The opening track from The Pictish Trail’s brilliant new record begins with moody, droning strings coupled with a Massive Attack-style retro hip-hop beat and is inspired by the Coen Brothers’ snowy thriller Fargo. This mismatch of ideas and styles pretty much sums up ‘Future Echoes’ - it’s diverse, it’s original, but most of all, it’s super fun.
Pictish - AKA Johnny Lynch - has never been one for seriousness, peppering his live shows with gold jackets and glitter, anecdotes on the wonders of rural Scottish island life and massive electro rave outs to end a moving folky number. He’s an entertainer in the best possible sense.
So you’d expect this record to be no different. It shines Lynch. But it has huge depth too - beautiful melodies, gorgeous harmonies and groove you can dance too. The production by mate and collaborator Adem Ilhan is perfection, balancing fuzz and pop with strings and synths and percussion.
There’s not a dull song on the album. ‘Lionhead’ has an indie tinge while ‘Dead Connection’ is all psych pop. There are melancholic moments too, like the dreamy ‘Half Life’, showing off the breathy, lovely tones of Lynch’s vocals like an Alexis Taylor number.
There’s a lot going on on the record, but it never feels overcrowded. A smattering of harp and affected vocal on ‘Easy with Either’ fits perfectly with the trip-hop subtleness of ‘Who’s Coming In’, bridged with a feel of Caribou, to make an album that fits any mood. It’s lush and summery. ‘Strange Sun’ drops the synths to go back to Lynch’s more folky roots, acoustic guitar and harmony led, with the twittering of birds fluttering around your head. It’s just lovely. And, of course, there’s no chance of ending on a down beat. Final track ‘After Life’ makes sure you’re left dancing until the bitter end.
‘Future Echoes’ is a reflection of Lynch’s home life in a caravan on the isle of Eigg, where he wrote the album. The remoteness, the silence, the space, the nature. It wraps you up like a sunny day in the middle of no where. But Lynch is never far from a party, and every moment of this record is glazed with fun and pop and excitement. If this record is anything to go by, Eigg life sounds pretty prefect.
Words: Gemma Hampson
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