“Music is love, kiss a musician !” – Marina Records – 1993 – 2019
Sometimes it happens. A record shows up that you just wanna join hands with, walk down the aisle with, kiss and make a vow to love forever. It may not happen that often these days, but when it does, it hits you with a bang! It’s a late Thursday evening in Gothenburg and spring is slowly introducing itself outside my window when I put “Love and Other Hopeless Things”, the 9th long player (8th with Marina Records) by The Scottish band, The Pearlfishers, in my cd player. Two hours later, not only have I managed to keep my social media addiction at bay, but I have also felt the tears streaming down my face. At this point I am pretty sure, this is David Scott‘s biggest musical moment yet.
“Love and Other Hopeless Things” marks last album for German label Marina, who after more than 25 years are winding down operations. During this time Marina has been a home for lovers of Scottish popmusic with roots in the 80s ( think Orange Juice, Aztec Camera etc ); unknown German treasures and music at the softer end of the pop spectrum (think Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach and general loveliness). All of them dressed in the meticulously precise artwork of Stefan Kassel, who shares the label ownership with Frank Lahneman. Frank explains their label’s demise: “People don’t want to buy records anymore”, that’s just the way it is. As you may know, sales for the physical product are decreasing more and more – even with the utmost effort in marketing and promotion. In most cases you cannot even recoup all your expenses. Very sad times for releasing music, I’m afraid“. The new musical landscape and streaming services, like Spotify have contributed in making record labels like Marina pretty much obsolete, causing a lot of them to close down.
Writing this review I’m quite aware that I might be one of the last species who gets melancholic about the days of music connoisseur labels like Marina who captured sound, art, and ideas in a single, neat package. But times change whether we like it or not. The reproducible form of digital files and streaming services seem to have made records lose some of their appeal and “aura”: making people feel an obligation to buy records more than that of an inner need, as it used to be. One could think, however, that we could have it both ways: cherish the digital files as well as the fully fledged artefact. Records like “Love and Other Hopeless Things” certainly could be an example of that.
David Scott always been good . A firm craftsman in the school of Paul Mcartney, Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach; Scottish pop disciples like BMX Bandits and Ricky Ross, but also masters like Paddy Mcaloon. Out of the 9 albums by The Pearlfishers, “Across the Milky Way” remains a favourite: a bit quirkier than the others and a sharp display of his talents. The problem at times though, with this type of pop, is that it’s quite an overcrowded genre. Littered with references to yester-year, the music sometimes lacks the emotional spark that fuelled the classics, and just be a little too much of…. record-collector nerdism. No such problem on “Love and Other Hopeless Things”. What inspired this new collection of songs for David Scott I do not know, but this time, he is not only in your ear: he gets to your soul like never before.
Highlights? How much time do you have? It’s hard to pick favourites from a record that you want to cuddle up with from the first minute to the last, but 2 songs leap out at me: “Sometimes it Rains in Glasgow” feels like an instant Pearlfishers classic: a sad, forlorn ballad with a cello in which David is joined by singer Becci Wallace to wondrous effect. If there is one song that the music-students David Scott teaches will remember him by, and sing to his memory, “Once I lived in London” might be a candidate. It instantly jumped out from my speakers and hugged me. A tale of days in 80’s London, pop-dreams and listening to Spandau Ballet‘s “True”; Jobim and Yazz, backed by the most gorgeous of melodies. It contains the line “close your eyes and keep believing”, a line which feels central to the whole record:… no matter how hard life is, you keep on going, and somehow make peace with the bumpy ride. Just close your eyes and keep believing. If “Love and Other Hopeless Things” will become an epitaph for Marina Records, remains to be seen, but if so, it’s certainly is one of the most beautiful ones. And David Scott’s songs might have been blessed with that last liberating kiss.