In April 2017 we introduced The Loch Ness Mouse on this blog with an overdue review of their self-titled album: after getting an email in my inbox and playing the first notes of “Warm Circuitry“, I knew I was a fan for life (The Loch Ness Mouse S/T). Now, nearly two years later, the band has released a brand-new album by the title of “The Loch Ness Mouse II“, which, of course, we wouldn’t want to miss out on.
Since the Norwegian indiepop outfit – founded and supervised by laconic a-team Jørn & Ole Johannes Åleskjær – saw their 25th year anniversary last year, the original idea was to do an album consisting of reworked highlights of the band’s back-catalogue, on Japanese label P Vine Records. Along the way, some new songs, and a cover (and 2 bonus tracks in Japan) were added for good measure. The result is an interesting one, and once again, we have an LNM album with a whole new vibe and mood, but this time also combining the moods and influences of all their former bodies of work.
After a few spins of The Loch Ness Mouse II, it becomes evident to me that I seem to have a penchant for the adaptations of the LNM classics, and that they are also the ones that seem to dominate the general mood on the album: overall, much more sober and introspective than its poppy forerunners. First track “The Tea House” sets this particular mood straightaway: it’s a diametrical shift from the original sunny beach (boys) of Key West’s “Adrift” (2002, Little Teddy Recordings) to an austere autumn day in Berlin. Despite its sobriety, “The Tea House” is drenched in atmosphere and melancholy and awash with spells of stunning chords. The spell is abruptly broken by two new songs: the soothing lounge-pop of “Dirty Realism” and the airy, soulful “D.C Lee“. The latter was released as the first single from the album on February 8th on Norwegian label Voices of Wonder who release their version of the album on March 15th (vinyl version).
At “Hayland” we pick up on brooding-and-nostalgic once more. Whereas the original “Hayland” (Flair for Darjeeling, 2000, Perfect Pop Records) was a lo-fi jangle-pop track in the tradition of C86 and Teenage Fanclub, the adaptation is pastoral and detached. It’s a vision from a bird’s-eye, soaring over a landscape of memories and impressions: a setting unchanged by time and yet everything is different.
“Unwarranted” (New Graffiti, 2009, Forward Records) has been transformed from a jazzy and poised eulogy to an upbeat poppy tune with a Prefab Sprout vibe, which brings us to the covers on the Japanese version of the album, amongst which we find a noteworthy version of Prefab Sprout‘s “The Sound of Crying“, made in collaboration with Tenant from Zero and originally adapted for The “I Remember That” sophistipop compilation (Fadeawayradiate Records 2017).
Another cover on the album (the only one that will be on The Norwegian release) is a balmy version of Tracey Thorn’s“By Piccadilly Station I Sat Down And Wept”, which happens to include guitar solo’s by Rhodri Marsden who used to be in 80’s band Scritti Politti, who’s “Overnite”was revised in 2016 by The Loch Ness Mouse and is included as a bonustrack on the Japanese issue.
Loch Ness Mouse II can be added as another jewel on the crown that is The Loch Ness Mouse’s lustrous treasury. Something to be very proud of.