Album Reviews

Merz – Moi Et Mon Camion

(Gronland) UK release date: 24 March 2008

Merz - Moi Et Mon Camion You can see why Conrad Lambert wanted to translate the title into French. I mean, who really is going to buy an album called Me And My Truck? Still, if past performance is anything to go by, Lambert could call the album Free Million Pounds Inside and no-one would buy it. For despite receiving critical praise since his first EP releases in the mid-’90s, Merz has never managed to snare the public’s interest with his laptop folk.

The title track and opener kicks off with the sound of the eponymous truck, turning into a jolly lilting number in the style of Nick Drake, the resigned optimism of being “turned out on the street again…”. The indifference to an apparently crappy situation is typical of Lambert’s understated approach to events good and bad.

Lambert quickly runs through his box of musical tricks, from expert Nick Drake style picking on the opener, to soft fuzzy electric guitars on the slow burning Call Me, to laptop trickery on Shun. Relying a great deal on laptop and acoustic guitar, Lambert allows the simple but affecting tales of unrequited love shine through. His slightly unperfect voice, fragile and wavering, is warm and inviting.

Perhaps not surprisingly given Lambert’s unhurried delivery of albums and his seeming indifference to the music industry’s and public’s indifference, he hails from the west country. And the relaxed approach gives a wonderfully sleepy feel, making an appearance in Bristol-based music video cum TV teen drama Skins almost inevitable. A slightly contrived flower-child spirit has a tendency to shine through; as the title suggests, Silver Moon Ladders would, if it were a person and not a song, where a kaftan and live off mung beans.

Most of the album is so laid back, that after six tracks it’s practically supine. The only real respite from the narcotic pace is the wonderful Lucky Adem. The repeated variations on the refrain “You know I love you but I can’t see how lucky I am, this is a pitiful tune” set to a looping brightly strummed guitar line, sloppy bass drum, and shimmering bells makes for an utterly charming love song. This brief slap in the chops of a track gives way to yet more sunny folk as the album coasts into the sunset.

Rarely getting above comatose, Moi Et Mon Camion is ideal for a hazy late night, or lazy summer day in the park, but the relentless soporific tone could do with a few more breaks. Lambert is a skilled songwriter and musician, and even if this album could do with a shot in the arm, with the current interests in trippy folk acts such as Tunng and Goldfrapp‘s latest offerings, this might just get him noticed, finally.

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More on Merz
Merz – No Compass Will Find Home
Merz @ Bush Hall, London
Merz – Moi Et Mon Camion