album review: Malojian, 'The Deer's Cry'

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If you're a close follower of this blog, you will notice that I have my favourites, and when I post something about new or undiscovered music it is usually left field. Over the years though I have been known to admire the writers of conventional song as well.

You may not have heard of Malojian, an act based in the heart of Northern Ireland, led by the skilful songwriting of Stevie Scullion. For this debut album he has assembled a collection of songs and with the help of producer Barrett Lahey brought them to life with a quality that recalls the likes of Elliott Smith, as well as newer, more-feted acts such as Dawes or Matthew E White.

The opening track 'The Deer's Cry' is a catchy tune with a bit of a swagger to it, with lots of ideas on show. In fact the two things which stay with you throughout the whole of the album are the high quality of the songwriting and the inventive production. For example, 'Do You Believe' is impressively layered with effects, percussion and backing vocals, making it sound like a bigger budget release as opposed to a debut album. 'Julie Anne', for example, could be a lost slice of prime period Elvis Costello.

As I mentioned, there is a strong Elliott Smith influence on tunes such as 'Often Wonder', in the way the melody works and twists within the song, and the way the songs shift pace like this keeps it all interesting.

It's always tricky to pull off lighter more whimsical songs, and I tend to give most people other than the Beatles a wide berth on such things, but 'Tea-time song' and 'Mario' - a song about video game addiction - have an appropriately light touch which balances the melancholic feel of some of the more downbeat pieces.

Having said that I think some of the downbeat material provides the real highlights. 'Watch the Rain' is a pretty acoustic tune with a reflective tone and 'Old Timer', with just acoustic guitar and piano, is equally good. 'All I Need' is the prettiest thing here, again showing that thoughtful, reflective side and combining it with a really strong tune. It's definitely worth filing Malojian under "ones to watch", and it will be interesting to see how they build on this strong debut.

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  1. MALOJIAN s'affranchit des stéréotypes, échappe à l'exercice de style, et livre un album sans contrainte

  2. that translates as "MALOJIAN overcomes stereotypes, escapes the exercise of style and delivers an album without constraint"