The Loose Salute, named after the 1970s album by ex-Monkees man Michael Nesmith, is the brainchild of ex-Mojave 3 drummer Ian McCutcheon. The band released their debut album, Tuned To Love, back in 2008 to mixed reviews, but even so, the record’s feel-good summer glow and relaxed vibe was irresistible. The five-piece’s follow up, entitled Getting Over Being Under, treads a similar path to its predecessor, with more country-tinged, dreamy, surf-pop.
McCutcheon’s background with Mojave 3 once again has a strong influence on his songwriting and the overall sound of Getting Over Being Under. The string-laden album opener, It’s A Beautiful Thing, eases the listener in, with a comforting combination of McCutcheon and Lisa Billson on vocals. It’s easy to see what drew McCutcheon to Billson when he first heard her singing along to Bob Dylan‘s Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands in the kitchen of a studio where he was recording. Her softly spoken vocals possess a beautiful, intoxicating tone that is both charming and affecting.
Billson’s voice is often the focal point of Getting Over Being Under, with her soothing resonance dominating the compelling Perhaps She’ll Fly, a song that is adorned with trumpets and a folk-driven guitar solo. You will find yourself unable to resist the songs tempting toe-tapping beat. Unfortunately, too much of The Loose Salute’s second album is underwhelming, relying on a mellow, restrained sound that is, at times, overly sweet. Happy I Don’t Count is a whispery ballad in the same mould as The Mutineer from the band’s debut album. It’s constructed around a delicate acoustic guitar and the melancholic aahing of both Billson and Charlotte King – a prominent component throughout the record.
This Is Love is another acoustic led track that revolves around the satisfying vocal harmonising of McCutcheon and Billson. It’s the sort of understated song a love-lorned teenager would come up with – nice, but ultimately unremarkable. The album does have uplifting moments, though. Run Out Of Morning is more jovial than the rest of the LP combined, a song that wouldn’t be out of place on the 500 Days Of Summer soundtrack, and the like. It’s an exuberant and spirited little tune, with an addictive melody. Another track that avoids being bogged down with faux romantic posturing is the jaunty Sister Corita, which features a country-inspired guitar riff suitable for a hoe-down. However, it’s a rarity on an album that tends to lean more heavily on a wistful and sparse sound, with Billson’s vocals the only real distinctive highlight.
So Out Of Time manages to build up some much needed momentum, before the album concludes with the poignant closer That’s What You Said. “Maybe I’ll get to heaven before the devil knows I’m dead,” sings McCutcheon, over the simplistic, slow-burning guitar twang. It’s a suitably subdued finish to an album that flirts with the quaintness of Neil Young, while also reflecting the polished pop of Fleetwood Mac.
For the most part, The Loose Salute’s sophomore album is a calming, heartfelt effort, which benefits greatly from the tight production of Pritpal Soor (Anna Calvi). The Cornwall-based band may touch on several different genres on the follow up to Tuned To Love, but the end result consists of far too many middle-of-the-road songs. After taking a break of almost four years between making their first album and releasing Getting Over Being Under, The Loose Salute should have progressed markedly. Instead, they played it too safe.