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Joyous chamber pop from
Chicago indie collective

The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir - Self-titled
(Bloodshot Records)
4 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Nov. 29, 2007
The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir

Review by Tony Bonyata

Okay, let's first set the record straight by stating that, other than their Welsh-born and raised lead singer/songwriter Elia Einhorn, The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir are not from the U.K. (they're actually based out of Chicago). Nor do they specialize in songs of worship - unless you count Einhorn's knack for crafting songs that pay a sort of twisted worship to his former drug habits, mental illness and sexual identity. And despite that fifty musicians appear on their recently released self-titled effort for Bloodshot Records they are not a choir either - although they certainly manage to layer in some pretty sweet vocal harmonies throughout the album.

The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir are, in fact, a large indie rock collective that orbits around Einhorn's rich chamber pop songs that incorporate elements of classic '60s Brit rock (The Kinks), fey alt-rock (The Smiths), along with early U.K. punk and rootsy folk aesthetics.

From the self-confessions of a confused youth on the hand-clappy exuberant punk opener "Aspidistra" and the more introverted pop of "This World Has No Place For Me" Einhorn's own self-doubt is well-documented. But just as guitarist Johnny Marr's effervescent guitar and ethereal melodies added dapples of shimmering hope to Morrissey's eternal, and often hilarious, self-loathing, Einhorn's strong sense of songcraft and arrangement turns many of his darker ruminations into celebratory moments. Even when he questions his own sexuality at one point as he sings, "who'd have thought I could feel this way for a boy" the music remains lighthearted, even jubilant, as if giving some reassurance to his feelings through his music.

Along with the more joyous moments on this effort there are also a few tender folk sonnets such as the lilting beauty of "Broken Front Teeth" sung and co-written by bandmember Ellen O'Hayer, along with the sparse "In Hospital" complete with corridor blowing winds, and the closing gem "Everything You Paid For."

The majority of the numbers on this nine-song collection are short-and-sweet - with two-thirds of them clocking-in well under three minutes - and the only real complaint here is that the entire affair only lasts a fleeting twenty-six minutes, which in terms of a full-length album is ludicrously short. But then again, like most of the best things in life, it just leaves you wanting more. And with The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir you'll definitely not only be wanting more, but needing more as well.

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