Having been largely unconvinced by the first two records from Mull Historical Society, I was prepared to be bored rigid by a load of formulaic tosh. After all, a band’s name says so much, and naming yourself after a community group from a remote Scottish island that houses just 2000 people doesn’t exactly bode well: Mull Historical Society doesn’t exactly conjure up images of an exciting rock band breaking boundaries on all sides now does it? But even on his third album, one-man-band Colin Macintyre, who writes, arranges, and performs these songs manages to sound fresh and inspired, and when you consider that it has all come from the brain of one man, ‘This is Hope’ really starts to seem impressive.
The standout track, ‘Tobermory Zoo’, which owes more than a little to The Coral, is at once a sing-along dance-along extravaganza and a dark, dark stomp that leaves you wondering what kind of sinister goings on might take place in the Hebrides. Future single ‘How ‘bout I love you more’ is three minutes of cute, Super Furry Animals meets The La’s style summer fluff that is part love song, part scientific rant that will most likely only just scrape the top forty, despite being basically a great song.
Excluding the cheesy spoken “I am hope” intro that sounds a bit like an early-nineties Benetton advert, this album is pretty genuine as it dashes around the pop world visiting old friends like the piano ballad, a gaggle of jangly guitar tunes and the mandatory acoustic-one-where-I-exaggerate-my-regional-accent. Much better thought out than earlier work from Mull Historical Society, ‘This is Hope’ is an accomplished mix of instantly recognisable pop and heartfelt growers. If there can be a genre known as Scottish indie pop, comprising Belle & Sebastian, Orange Juice and Teenage Fanclub, then MHS have definitely earned their place. Third time lucky, and finally Colin has made a record that cuts the proverbial mustard. Simple, melodic pop? Mull Historical Society might well be onto something here.