When you spend your one day off from work researching ancient greek literature terms and modern psychoanalogy in aid of an album review, one thing best true; the record better be worth it. This is the position I found myself in (method blogging?) when starting my review of Something For The Weakened, the new LP from Scottish folk-darlings Meursault.
So was it worth it? Absolutely. The bands third full-length record is a dramatic and striking piece of work that builds upon their previously raw and coarse sound and turns them into a bonafide rock and roll band; albeit one that still deals with the entire spectrum of human emotions and all the dark and often bleak places that that may take you.
Ahead of the albums release in mid-July, GoldFlakePaint had a chat with Meursault chief Neil Pennycook about the bands change of direction and the processes behind it…
Hi Neil, how is 2012 treating you?
Hello. The year has been pretty good so far.
The new album is out mid-July. Do you get excited by such things or is it more nerves/impatience at this point?
I think we’re all just really looking forward to it. It always feels like a long time between finishing a record and actually releasing it. So yes, impatient.
What was the catalyst for the change in sound found on Weakened?
I think we all wanted to move towards something which had a more human element to it. And my macbook broke.
You’ve spoken in the past of seeing songwriting and recording as the same process. Does this mean the songwriting process itself was different this time?
The main difference was that everyone was a lot more involved this time. I’d written a bunch of songs, a few we’d been playing live for a little while in some form or other, but most were worked up from pretty sparse guitar/piano and vocal demos. So there was still an element of the songs taking form as they were being recorded, but at the same time everyone had a lot more prior knowledge of the songs than they had in the past.
What effect has that had on the songs?
Well, the aim was to give the songs a more natural/organic sound, so everything is a lot more defined. It makes performing much more exciting as well. Everything feels a lot more spacious and loose.
For all the downbeat moments on the record there is a strong and positive side that crops up at various points. Which songs do you find harder to write?
That’s hard to answer. Most of the time I don’t sit down with the intention to write a spefically upbeat or downbeat song. The music seems to take care of itself once I’m happy with the lyric. At their core most of the songs are fairly simple structurally, sometimes they would go through various incarnations before we were happy with them, but we always tried to present the songs in the most direct way possible.
Why did you feel it necessary to re-visit Lament For A Teenage Millionaire on the new record?
I always felt that the music on the previous recording didn’t really sit too well with what the words and the vocal were doing. It was also nice to take one of the songs which was probably quite representative of us at one point and put in a different context.
Which song on the record means the most to you?
I think Dull Spark. It has spunk.
Were there any albums/artists that influenced what you were trying to achieve on the new record?
I’m never sure what aspects of my listening habits end up filtering into my songs, but now that the record’s finished I can hear some things which I can pick out, but I think it kind of ruins the fun if these references are pointed out to people. It’s more fun to draw your own parallels I think.
Did the recording process all go to plan? Any humorous/interesting/terrifying anecdotes from your time in the studio?
Nothing humorous or interesting happened. Only terrifying things, unspeakable things…
How did the experience of working in a studio compare to home-recording the first two albums?
Everything felt a lot more intentional, more streamlined. Instead of constantly layering sounds as we’d done on the previous recordings, things seemed to be resolved a lot quicker and with less fuss.
Something For The Weakened is released on July 16th. Read our review of it here.