Scottish quintet My Latest Novel return in May with ‘Deaths and Entrances’, the much-anticipated follow-up to debut album “Wolves” which was released in 2006 to huge critical acclaim and went on to sell 10,000 copies in the UK. ‘Deaths and Entrances’ has been very much a labour of love for My Latest Novel who spent more than two years holed up in a cold and damp studio in Greenock cultivating a sound that would bring forth a new era for the band.
From the opening bars of the first track its clear that this is a band that have evolved and matured significantly since the release of their beguiling debut. Whilst retaining many of the elements which made them so special first time round, My Latest Novel have become a far bolder and more confident outfit, developing a much fuller and more powerful sound in the three years since the release of ‘Wolves’.
“All In All In All Is All” immediately sets the tone of this extraordinary record, the beautiful interweaving harmonies and epic soundscapes demonstrating My Latest Novel’s unique musical vision. This is followed by the equally brilliant ‘Dragonhide’ with its oh-so-dark lyrics: “Forget what I have said, watch what I do / In my head my hands on my neck” followed by “When me eyes are fixed on you there’s no telling what I could do / I could turn you to Dragonhide or make you a grain of sand / And let you fall, and crush you like an ant / Or place you on my tongue and swallow”
So we’ve established that My Latest Novel can do dark and threatening, but they can also deliver moments of gorgeous, lovelorn beauty, as evidenced on third track ‘Lacklustre’: “Annie, turn and smile, run away / Through alleyways and boulevards / Run, through the streets, to the sea / To sail into the night tonight”. Though what makes My Latest Novel truly special is the way they often combine all these elements within the one song, switching from intimate and delicate to epic and powerful with effortless ease.
It’s hard to imagine a band with more musical ideas than My Latest Novel. ‘Deaths and Entrances’ consistently displays a remarkable inventiveness and artistry – complex harmonies, over-lapping vocals, sweeping arrangements, songs veering off on unusual tangents… As lyricists, My Latest Novel truly live up to their name, easily matching their musical invention with their literary prowess. By turns romantic and dramatic, unusual and intriguing, the band’s words are always wholly captivating.
My Latest Novel’s sophomore album is the sound of a supremely confident band truly hitting their stride.
‘Deaths and Entrances’, in the words of the band…
Deaths and Entrances was a title before it was an album – and a poem before it was a title. By Dylan Thomas. We loved how vast it was, and it seemed to sum up exactly what we wanted to do next. It gave us something to aim for. We wanted to “pull the thunderbolts, shut the sun, plunge, and mount our darkened keys”.
Many of the songs from the album are inspired by literature, specifically ‘Lanark’ by Alasdair Gray. The book is about life, death, dreams, nightmares, war, heaven and hell. Cycles. So is our album.
We were drawn into the illogical nature and conflicting thoughts of the anti-hero; the time travelling Billy Pilgrim; the cowardly Yossarian; and the main (unnamed) character in ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’.
During the writing process, we were holed up in an old pub, which had been turned into a rehearsal space in Greenock, our hometown. We had the only key, and were left to ourselves to create the album. The roof leaked, there were no windows, but it was amazing to have somewhere of our own to work together. We used it for the 628 days it took us to write the album.
We wrote a lot of the songs on the album at the same time, rather than one at a time. I think this makes it sound much more cohesive. It sounds like a band at a certain point in time. You end up developing your own language as a band; all these ideas were swirling around in our heads and in our room, and it feels spontaneous.
Space and time were important to us. So much so we mentioned it in ‘Hopelessly, Endlessly’. The thought that we didn’t need to think about anything other than what was happening within the four walls we were writing in. Like we’d hibernated into our own private world.
While we were writing the album, I began suffering from some horrendous nightmares, or night terrors as we called them. I was waking up in the early hours having screamed my throat dry. It started us thinking about dreams and also pent up emotion. This is the subject of ‘Dragonhide’, which is also the name of the skin disease in ‘Lanark’.
‘Lacklustre’ was probably the song which was most difficult to write. It was the first we started, and we finished it the day it was recorded. It’s about a resuscitation doll called Annie, which is based on the l’inconnue de la Seine – an unidentified woman who died in the river in the early 1900’s. We thought it was a tragic but beautiful story. A woman drowns, her face is immortalised in a plaster mask which is then used as a resuscitation doll to help save people from drowning. Deaths and Entrances.
Nearly every song has been linked or inspired by a novel or artist title: “Deaths and Entrances” from Dylan Thomas, “If the Accident Will”, a song about The Slaughterhouse 5, Dragonhide and All In All…by Alasdair Gray’s “Lanark” and “A Dear Green Place” by Archie Hind.
The albums themes involve dreams, cycles, life, death, war, time travel, murder, rebirth, science fiction, and time and space.
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