Malojian – This Is Nowhere
It’s fair to say that there’s been a bit of a buzz around the new Malojian record and rightly so. Recorded in America with Steve Albini on production duties, expectations were always going to be high and the pressure to deliver a good record on the band even higher.
Halfway through the opening song ‘This Is Nowhere (Aren’t You Lonely?)’ those expectations have not only been met but are kicked right out of the park once the electric guitar kicks in. Think of the guitar tone The Beatles got on ‘Revolver’ and you’re pretty close.
The first single to be released from the record is ‘I’ll Be Alright’. This appears to be an affectionate tribute to a much loved family member. The premise is simple. No matter how hung up you get in your own problems you just need to remember there’s always someone who needs and depends on you more.
It’s funny to see you lost completely. You cry and I know I’ll be alright.
Another early example of where Albini’s production really shines is on ‘Dam Song’; a song that could be a rallying cry against rushing through life and making headstrong and impatient decisions to find the quick and easy answer. Frantic guitar work and a cleverly descriptive chorus drive a brilliantly intelligent song.
When you realise that you’re waiting in the wrong line you join another one but then it slows down. It’s alright. Don’t cry. Just try to walk along your own road or join the queue.
The soft and reassuring ‘Lean On Me’ and the brooding ‘You’re A Part Of Me’ are songs that show a continuing maturity to Stevie Scullion’s writing and also that not all love songs need to be ballads.
Not for the first time we look at our speakers during these songs as we hear Stevie’s hands changing chords on his fret board and the production mix makes it sound like the band are sharing the room with us.
One of the strengths of any Malojian record has always been Stevie Scullion’s ability to turn everyday mundane things into humorous songs and he pulls out all the stops on ‘Calling Borneo’. Inspired by nuisance cold callers and the irony of his brother getting a job coaching the same people in call centres this one is classic Malojian at their best.
I’m gonna tell you something that’ll blow your mind. My brother’s tryin to teach them boys to talk in time. Every time they call me I am at my tea. Tried to change my number but they followed me.
‘Whittle Me Down’ is a quiet work of sheer brilliance. Rounding off the record is the magnificently sombre ‘The Great Decline’. Appearing to describing the fallout from a relationship it features Stevie’s vocal over a piano track that in places cleverly mimics the chords of the opening song on the record.
This is a record that’s full of the quirky humour, strong lyrics and quality musicianship that we’ve come to know and expect from Malojian. The production is different enough to differentiate it from their previous two records, yet it stays firmly within what’s expected by delivering an edgy, live, “in the room” feeling to the listener and with the emphasis on distorted and over-driven guitar parts brought to the fore it makes the record an eclectic electric work of sheer brilliance.
When Dylan went electric people jeered. When Malojian went electric people cheered.
‘This Is Nowhere’ is out now on Rollercoaster Records.