Out in Leeds the other night, I came across a unusual beer that was essentially like drinking bacon. A pint of ‘Smoked Porker’, a rather unique and very, very dark ale, took a little getting used to. The barman who served it, and happened to be its creator, recommended taking a sip, putting the glass down and waiting a moment before continuing. There was, he said, a need to let your palette adjust before proceeding.
That might be true too of Birmingham’s Malpas. We first came across the unusual blend of sounds they call electro-bluegrass when our New Bands Panel gave them a listen back in 2010. Since then, they’ve been away polishing their sound and recording their debut album, due next year.
The band mix a variety of sounds FFS readers are well-versed in – guitars, glockenspiels, flutes and the like – with a heavy dose of electronica, and if you listen to the title track of this EP alone, you’d say a very heavy dose of the latter. At that point, the folks fans might be wondering if they have come to the right place. But there is a little here for everyone to get along with. ‘Under Her Sails’ begins as a gentle, catchy little ditty, a genuine delight that builds slowly before the effects department take over midway through to deliver a powerful finish.
These themes continue on the sweet ‘Sea Dreams’ before the dream-like closer ‘June Exit Strategy’, all shimmering synths and delicate licks comes on as this record’s highlight. Above all you’ll be struck by how successfully Malpas seem to have mastered a strange brew. Take a taste, put it down, and await the album.