Much has changed in the Murmur Tooth camp since 2016’s The Room. Now a solo musical vehicle and described by its creative driver Leah Hinton as being “dedicated to the passing of time, to the peeling of memory and to the shedding of skin,” which before I have even pressed play sounds like my sort of thing. But I guess I knew it would be. So if the previous outing revelled in some moments of wide-screen, alt-rock drama, Dropping Like Flies is more intimate, more bruised, more soul searching, that with most of the short-circuiting sonic turmoil removed what remains of the bands sound is something beautiful, stately, darkly majestic and, ironically, more powerful.
A Belly Full mixes an almost music box rhythm with brooding sweeps of cello but oddly enough for a song built mainly on understatement it is actually one of the fuller songs found here as the rest of the album is woven as much from atmosphere and anticipation as it is from notes and beats. I Will Never is a dark waltz between vocals and piano and the short and brilliant Interlude is a celebration, a quiet one at least, of layered harmonies and glitchy, pulsating electronica.
The Accomplice is a fantastic piece of noir-ish minimalism and is the only track to creep beyond the two and half minute mark, which says something about Leah’s ability to convey so much emotion and reflection in the time it would take most writers to get to the first chorus. The album’s swan song is the haunting Of Memory, straight out of the Cave/Ellis emotive music manual and proving that writing minimal music is more than just leaving gaps but understanding the power music still has even when it has moved beyond actually making any sound.
The other piece of advice from the album’s accompanying notes states that it is “not for elevators, not for dancing,” but late night musical rituals in just such claustrophobic environments seems exactly what it is designed for. Let’s make such low key art-attacks the trend for 2018 and this its perfect soundtrack.