Oh, to spend a day in Meilyr Jones‘ head. Not because he’s such a hugely talented, beautiful, young thing (though he is; more of that later)… but more because it’s impossible to tell where he’s going to go and what he’s going to do next.
As the frontman of the sadly short-lived Race Horses, he stood out for reasons more than just being the one holding the mic. Already a pop enigma in the making, he slithered about the stage in sequinned outfits, finding it uncomfortable to make stage chatter but easy to perform, to become someone else.
Justice permitting, his former band’s second album, Furniture, will go down in history as a lost classic. Packed full of smart pop songs, they split up months after its release, leaving a growing, hard-earned gaggle of fans enduring the curse of the indie fan; you’ve only just discovered your new favourite band, and now they’ve split up.
Those fans will be more than happy with Jones’s solo work; it creams off the best of Race Horses, but adds a more sophisticated, personal slant. For it wasn’t just the fans that felt a sense of loss when Race Horses split; Jones himself was apparently gutted, and took himself off to Rome for a bit of R&R. The two experiences – along with a relationship break-up – proved inspiration enough for this record, which he named in honour of that fateful year.
The result is an energetic, demanding collection, which flits between sights, scenes and musings so quickly, you’ll struggle to catch your breath. It launches with the charging, jubilant How To Recognise A Work Of Art. With the kookiness of the best of Gorkys Zygotic Mynci and Super Furry Animals, it makes 2013 an instantly endearing proposition. Track number two, Don Juan, then throws the listener off the scent with a more orchestral number that looks to the drama and wry humour of The Divine Comedy. Later on, with songs like Olivia and Strange Emotional, he even starts to channel Morrissey.
2013 is one of those records you get something new from with every listen. He’s unashamedly intellectual, and 2013 is dripping in high brow references, from Byron to architecture, but for all the theatrics, it’s an incredibly tender, accessible album, with sing-along choruses and musical quirks that will lodge in your brain for days. There are musical secrets to unearth on your umpteenth listen too, thanks in no small part to the 30-strong orchestra he assembled – from “friends and friends of friends” – for the recording. Name an instrument, it’s in there; bassoon, sax, clarinet, harp, timpani…there are gems to discover at every corner.
Meilyr Jones is gloriously original; eccentric, flamboyant, he wears his mad young heart on his sleeve. So now we’ve found him, let’s hope he sticks around longer this time.