Midlands-based The Musgraves begin their brand new EP ‘Lost In Familiarity’ with the in stantly classic ‘So Sofia’ and within seconds you know that you’re listening to something truly great, heartfelt and special.
On ‘So Sofia’ handclaps, vocals, piano, acoustic guitars and banjo combine thrillingly to grin-inducing, lip-biting, heart-swellingly perfect effect. It’s as infectious and upbeat as a pop song could come, like the first carelessly hopeful rays of sun poking through after the longest of winters. The Musgraves manage to capture concentrated positivity, a sense of fun undercut with the quietest of summers effortlessly.
The melody in “Back To Me” showcases a Mraz-like eye for easy going pop sensibilities and illustrates exactly why Imagem Music (home to Vampire Weekend, Phil Collins and even Britney Spears) came a-knocking this year and picked up band’s signatures on the publishing front. There’s something so genuinely feel-good in The Musgrave’s sound it’s very difficult not to get caught up in it all. The melodies on ‘Lost In Familiarity’ fit singer Matthew Bennett’s voice so naturally.
Third track “Discover Me” shows The Musgraves are entirely capable of using their considerable talents for something a little different. The arrangement and harmonies here recall “Warnings/Promises”-era Idlewild at their finest whilst Bennett’s vocal is hauntingly different to the carefree rallying cries of ‘So Sofia” and ‘Back To Me.’
Here’s hoping you all get want I am trying to convey, this is another quality EP from The Musgraves, the rest is up you you. From here on in the off kilter questions are me the words of wisdom are are from Musgraves lead singer Matthew Bennett.
I really like the ‘Lost In Familiarity’ EP. I gather (someone has to) that you recorded the upcoming release over the winter months?
“Yes, we spent a lot of time hiding from the snow, drinking hot chocolate and finishing the EP.”
At which studio was the EP mainly recorded? Produced by?
“The EP was recorded at Redhouse Studios and was produced by Stuart Roslyn.”
Does the ‘Lost In Familiarity’ EP mark any change in your sound? I can hear classic roots folk on ‘Oh Musgrave’’, but what has sparked this question is the glow and pop tinged ‘So Sofia’?
“We have our roots in more traditional music but we love the joy and rhythms of feel good pop music. Our one main aim as a band is to be able to cover all the roots genres, from soul to country to folk and rhythm and blues but with pop sensibilities.We know it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea or deemed ‘cool’ don’t worry about its stigma.”
I used to edit a folk,blues, roots and indie magazine called Get Rhythm, the owner of which worked at Virgin Records as one of the men behind the late 1960’s through to the early 1970’s. He also lamented the arrival of punk ended a "beautiful and heartfelt scene". I just saw folk as I did indie, as changing scenes, changing times. Do you think that this is a golden time
" for Roots music in general? “I think roots music will always be around due to the fact it is the bed rock on which everything else comes from. People will always go back to it. Yes punk music did get rid of some of the more sentimental folk music but it brought back to the foreground the political side of folk music with people like Billy Bragg.”
Back to the EP, could you tell With Guitars about a couple of songs?
“Yes, but find it difficult to discuss our own songs with a direct question about a particular song.”
Your Press Release states “’Discover Me’ shows The Musgraves are entirely capable of using their considerable talents for something a little different. The arrangement and harmonies here recall “Warnings/Promises”-era Idlewild at their finest". – I have seen and interviewed Idlewild, and that is high praise in my book.
Is that something ‘The Musgraves are keen to explore? Pushing at so called boundaries? Or is it just a natural expression of the band?
“’Discover Me’ for us is just one of our songs and comes from the heart. We didn’t write the press release and didn’t particularly set out to recall Idelwild, but we gave the song everything it needed to work.”
Good to hear some real instruments, I am not claiming that I could tell the difference between synthesized music and that of acoustic except for one thing the keys on the piano do not always sound "perfect" the snare on one song is tighter than the last, the multi direction microphone, subtly muffled is either nearer or had the ‘intensity and volume turned up. We always use real instruments.
“The only two electric instruments on the EP are bass guitar and organ, that is intentional. Real instruments carry more positive vibration then synthesized sounds, this adds to the feel of the record.”
After all of that, I just wonder that in concert if it is part of The Musgraves appeal, that is apart from overall song, the lyrics, the music is more organic, it has more passion as the music gets to breath and is not programmed.
“We are essentially an acoustic band but it’s not totally obvious to some ears. It is quite organic but it’s also very pop!”
Sorry this is my last question. I have heard you described as Folk, Folk Pop, Folk Blues, I took no risks had used an umbrella term. Describing you as a roots band. I am not trying to fit you in a box, just wondering, is it that important, I would love to hear some 1930’s a or 1990’s Deep South Acoustic Blues Guitar.
“Labels like ‘folk’ or ‘pop’ are not massively important to us; they only help to market records and acts. We are a roots pop band but then not a lot of people will get that, so it’s just better to listen and make up your own mind.”