Three albums in and The Miserable Rich are really hitting their stride as one of the UK’s most innovative acts, mixing compelling story telling with chamber pop and most importantly some damn fine tunes.
Miss You In The Days sees singer and songwriter James de Malplaquet and the band’s string ensemble tackle the ghostly themes of possession and haunting. But this is not just lyrically. The production setting, in a haunted pub attic in the grounds of Anne Boleyn’s home Blickling Hall, and the Halloween release date also add to the spooky feel.
It’s a well thought out theme that avoids the pretence of many concept albums, and while the tracks are mostly sad there’s an epic quality that prevents the album becoming downbeat. It’s probably their most complete album yet, demanded to be listened to as a whole, rather than to cherry pick tracks, as perhaps listeners may have done on their previous two albums.
Among the highlights is the swirling Ringing the Changes. This waltz conjures up the themes of possession and haunting perfectly with the dancing protagonists spinning increasingly more wildly in each others arms as the song builds momentum. You can almost see the spectres and vampires dancing around.
Another is the first single One A Certain Night, the key track on the album on the theme of possession.
While the music is still focused on the band’s central instruments of cello, violin and piano there is a greater use of electric guitar and drums than on previous releases. This fills the gaps nicely and gives tracks such as opener Laid Up in Lavender an added dynamism. There’s also some fine melodies, with the chorus of ‘Honesty’ perhaps the best example of this.
In terms of tunes, playing, singing and having a strong sense of purpose Miss You In the Days ticks all the boxes. It just staggers us that a band this interesting (and named one of our Top Ten Bands To Watch Out For in 2011) still has to put out its begging bowl and raise money through pledges rather than through the pockets of record labels. As the instruments build up on tracks such as Honesty I can’t help but wonder what they could achieve with a wad of record industry cash and perhaps a full orchestra at hand. Maybe in another life that’ll happen.
by Joe Lepper