With members of Clearlake, Hope Of The States and the Willkommen Collective making up their numbers, it would be easy to make assumptions about where The Miserable Rich would go with their second album. Beardy chamber-pop, right? Not far wrong!
Of Flight And Fury might do what it says on the tin, but it’s a great listen and sees the band embracing their sound with a more structured, confident approach than their first effort, Twelve Ways To Count. There are more boozey, hazy tales of mischief, lust and hungover reflection – and this time the listener is invited along for the ride.
We meet the Brighton band at the start of their session, with Pegasus, which sets the scene for their pursuit of extremes: “I pray for someone to break my wrists, I believe in something that doesn’t exist,” admits singer James de Malplaquet. But the album really gets going with Chestnut Sunday, which recalls the Victorian tradition of Londoners descending on one of the royal parks in May to enjoy the chestnut blossoms in full bloom. It’s balmy and dreamy and paints pictures of traditional English fates. De Malplaquet’s vocals have the old worldly warmth and dry wit of Rufus Wainwright, as he twists his way around the playful, intricate yet subtle layers of piano and strings with a laid back ease.
Short instrumental bursts, in the shape of Flights 1, 2, 4 and 3, separate the album’s moods and, now warmly intoxicated, we shift into the horny, mischievous territory of single Somerhill. It tells of sneaky drinks and stolen kisses with the local yummy mummy, while avoiding small town gossips. It’s tongue in cheek and lifts its cap towards some of The Divine Comedy‘s smuttier moments. A beautiful instrumental backing that crops up again as the album’s hidden track, it shows off the immense array of instruments the band has at its disposal. Often lost to de Malplaquet’s vocals, the hidden track is performed and recorded entirely by pianist Will Calderbank and sweeps the listener along with it.
Bye Bye Kitty marks the next stage of the journey. A darker, more sinister track, off-key strings transform de Malplaquet’s vocals – he’s menacing and knowing, almost taunting. The half way point of the album has a fuddled, drunk feeling that gradually gives way to a more reflective, emotional state. Let Me Fade is an irresistible break-up song that takes something from every split in history – the excitement of escape, the tearful end scenes, it completely wallows in itself. “Pick your shoes up off the floor, take your sofa through the door, that red t-shirt you never worse, not is the time you’ve waited for, just let me fade…”
The close of the drink-addled trip comes courtesy of the aptly named Hungover. “In the morning I’ll be the man I want to be,” de Malplaquet promises, adding in the album notes that if anyone needs this song explaining they should go out with the band for a night while they’re on tour.
There’s the odd forgettable, album filler – For A Day and The Mouth Of The Wolf, for example, leave no lasting impression – but Of Flight And Fury is the perfect soundtrack for chilled out summer evenings; booze optional.