Minor Victories carries that heavy term “super group” that can be the kiss of death in the music world. Comprised of Rachel Goswell (Slowdive, Mojave 3), Justin Lockey (Editors), Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), and James Lockey (film-maker, also Justin’s brother) – it truly is an alternative music world super group. Fortunately in this case the group exceeds all expectations. Braithwaite had claimed in an early interview (before the album was released) that the group sounded like the best bits of the members main bands. And, well – he wasn’t wrong. The album also features contributions from Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon) and James Graham (The Twilight Sad). Each contribution adds something to the overall atmosphere of the record. In fact, I expected this to be a nice stop-gap to hold me over until the forthcoming Slowdive album. Instead what I got was an album that I’ve had on repeat since the day of release.
Give Up The Ghost introduces us to Minor Victories and it serves as a perfect encapsulation of what the band does well. Atmospheric opening, somewhat direct vocals from Rachel Goswell, and a killer guitar riff that culminates in a noisy, but melodic, finish. Breaking My Light is my favorite song on the record. An orchestral undercurrent that threatens to explode while insistent riffs power the song forward. Goswell’s vocals are simply perfect – perhaps one of her finest vocal deliveries ever. The music slows down during the verses putting the focus squarely on the vocals / lyrics. Lyrically, it is a downer of a song. “Will these shadows lift / They’ve been breaking my light / I’m not gonna fight”. For You Always features Mark Kozelek doing one of his stream of consciousness vocal deliveries that people either love or despise – I love it. I think it is a nice change of pace for the record, kind of like how Ciao! worked for Lush on their Lovelife album. A folky duet between Kozelek and Goswell, it tells the story of how they became friends. The Thief is perhaps the tune where you can say this is Slowdive meets Editors meets Mogwai. It seems to include every strong element from those bands perfectly. Post punk meets shoegaze meets post rock. Again, another really strong vocal performance from Rachel Goswell. Atmospheric yet direct. The song progresses in a way that leads you to expect it to end in a cacophony of sound, yet it segues into dreamy 1 minute epilogue. Perfect. Lyrically it speaks to doomed love (again). “Push past the ghosts of all our fears / And stagger into the light / Face of love forsakes the thief / Cut away by the sun”.
What else can I say? It is pretty much a perfect album from start to finish. I hope the band remains a going concern even after everyone involved gets back to their other bands.
Verdict: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts
For Fans of: Slowdive, Editors, Mogwai, Doves, Coldplay, Grandaddy, Mazzy Star
- Give Up The Ghose
- A Hundred Ropes
- Breaking My Light
- Scattered Ashes (Song For Richard)
- Folk Arp
- For You Always
- Out To Sea
- The Thief
- Higher Hopes