The Mojo Fins – Circa
Recorded once again at the legendary Rockfield Studios, and again produced by Dave Eringa, ‘Circa’ is the follow through album; whereby ‘Shake the Darkness’ saw the Mojos' sound given more textures, more foundation and a 'produced' feel that verged on the cinematic, ‘Circa’ is a more complete, rounded album, featuring a stream of great songs, from the opener ‘Longwave Reach’ to the closer ‘Hands of Flashing Light’.
’Longwave Reach’ is typical Mojos; tinkling piano, echoing drums, bass, guitars and strings harmoniously building up to the brief moments of cranked up and distorted guitar, adding a bit of menace and foreboding to the mix. 'I forgot, forgot to think of you/I lose the plot, get wrapped in myself' sings lead singer Stephen Brett.
’Introverts’ is the poppiest track on the album; helped along by an underlay of burbling synth, the song once again building up into a rush of euphoria, with a splendid guitar solo, echoes of U2 and The Sound making themselves heard. And it also contains some fine lyricism: 'Divested of the dreams/that served to keep us stationary/Extraordinary whims unfurl/Introverts'.
Brett's singing is powerful throughout, without ever overwhelming a song, and on ‘Circa’ he shows how good a singer he really is, especially on the very personal ‘Catholic Guilt’ track, a low key, acoustically finger picked song, the gentle melancholy of the music coalescing nicely with the regretful tone of the lyrics. Later on, the very personal ‘Friends’ sees Brett almost in solo mode.
’Arterial Road’ also harks back to the foreboding sounds and textures of The Sound, a hugely admired band from the early 80s, although whether or not The Mojos had ever heard of them is another story…
The REM feel of ‘Grass’ is another welcome change of gear; there's a lighter touch here, more of a band live-in-the-studio vibe, on this relatively straight forward number, which talks once again about possible regrets but this time with less guilt attached. 'We were care-free, we were guilt-free'.
’Black Sun’ epitomises the naturally euphoric nature of much of the Fins music, from the inventive tribalistic drums and Brett's downbeat vocal, it erupts into a glorious symphonic wave, before fading back again into the 'gloom.' While final track, ‘Hands of Flashing Light’, is two songs in one, a darkly grooving instrumental passage segueing into the final that finds the band once again musically dueling between dark and light.
The music of The Mojo Fins is often suggestive; the titles of the songs offering a direction to go, but not specifically pointing the way: ‘Longwave Reach’, ‘Exhale’, ‘Arterial Road’, ‘White Heart Beats’ and so on… their textured and euphoric meets melancholic atmospherics are yearning, regretful, hopeful, happy, sad, and all those other human emotions you expect to experience in the everyday. While the instrumentation is never flashy or fussy but spot-on throughout, little moments here and there serving to emphasise the mood of the song, but staying strictly away from the bombastic. In particular the drumming is inventive throughout, while the piano, instead of leading a song, is used as a tool, to embellish, to heighten the sensations.
The Mojos' generally euphoric and suggestive music is very much in the British tradition of bands such as Editors, the soundscapes and lyrics sympathetically conjoined. With the help of Dave Eringa, responsible for most of Manic Street Preachers back catalogue, but whose varied CV now also includes the rootsy R'nB vibes of the recent Roger Daltrey and Wilko Johnson album collaboration ‘Going Back Home’, they have engineered a complete work to be proud of, made more so by the evocative cover photograph of sculpted sand and rock formations of the Utah desert.