So far, Meursault have been racking up a hell of a lot of praise from the media for their inventive sonic sound scapes. They're the latest in that old familiar long line of 'new favourite bands' but unfortunately, and this might sound harsh, that is praise that I for one just do not understand.
Don't get me wrong; sure, the songs are here. Crank Resolutions is a slow burning and minimalist epic, as is New Ruin. Both songs have the potential to be huge: The potential to be something special.
These epics are sat next to more sombre and introspective numbers like the beautiful acoustic tones of Weather, and the poppy One Day This'll All Be Fields. Unfortunately, sometimes the vocals can not quite do the songs justice, with so much reverb on them that it sounds almost like whale song. It is a shame because as I have said, these songs have bags of potential. The vocals however are not the main problem with this album. Up until this point in the review I've been ignoring the absolutely colossal elephant in the room that really brings the album down for me personally. The main issue I have with All Creatures Will Make Merry is its production.
Given that in this day and age it is not that difficult or expensive to make a decent sounding recording anymore, it seems odd to me to do such a poor job on producing songs that you have perhaps toiled over day and night for massive amounts of time. Put plainly, when you put this CD in the player, it sounds like you are listening to a band performing about three rooms away with cotton wool stuffed in your ears. It massively detracts from the experience and the overall quality of the album so much so that it just can't be ignored. If I'm honest, it makes it difficult to get through the album in one sitting. You can call it a DIY ethic, but I never heard Black Flag sounding this poorly produced. When you can't hear a band it makes it difficult to judge how good they really are.
With that in mind, All Creatures Make Merry is the most frustrating album I've heard in my life. I want to love the melancholy piano sounds of album closer A Fair Exchange, but through the layers of reverb and whatever other effects they've layered on to this, I just can't. It is a real shame that this potential is shot dead by something so easily fixed. I hope Meursault and other bands that have done this sort of production job on their albums can learn in time for their follow-ups that making a great sounding album is not selling out.
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