What do you do when everything you’ve known for almost a third of your life comes crashing down? For Meilyr Jones, the former frontman of Aberystwyth psych-poppers Race Horses, who split in 2013, the answer was to gather up his things and head to pastures new.
Jones chose to move to Rome for six weeks with little to no knowledge of the language or the city. “Everything was drawing me there,” he says, now back in London, referring to his growing interest in the likes of romantic poet Byron and 19th-century French composer Hector Berlioz, both of whom had significant experiences there.
In Rome, Jones spent his days exploring the city, walking for hours, visiting churches and looking at art. He didn’t know whether he’d ever write music again. His intention wasn’t necessarily to find inspiration for a new project – he just wasn’t sure what to do next, full stop.
Although Jones says he “didn’t want to try something just for the sake of it”, the trip did end up producing his first solo album, ‘2013’, which came out last month. A record based around that year of his life, with its endings and new beginnings, it has Rome at its core and marks the renaissance of one of the UK’s most original artists.
Full of baroque orchestration, giddy choirs and pop hooks, ‘2013’ sounds unlike anything else that’s been released in recent times, seemingly refuting the notion that it’s not possible to make anything original in indie any more. “I moved away from fashion,” Jones says of how he ended up with a sound so striking. “There’s not a lot of confidence [in the music world] to say, ‘Let’s just see what happens.’”
‘Don Juan’ (one of the record’s highlights, named after a poem by Byron) has Jones commenting on the safeness of current mainstream culture, singing, “There’s a band on the radio singing politely/‘Is this my generation?’ again and again”. By ripping it up and starting again in his own distinctive way, Meilyr has struck gold and found something magical to counteract the bland and the beige.
Meilyr Jones: The Details
Buy: Debut album ‘2013’ is out on Moshi Moshi
April 25 Ramsgate Music Hall
April 26 London Moth Club
April 27 Birmingham Sunflower Lounge
April 28 Bristol Louisiana,
April 29 Liverpool Studio 2
April 30 Leeds Live At Leeds
May 1 Manchester Sounds From The Other City
May 2 Newcastle Cluny 2
May 3 Glasgow King Tuts
May 13 Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
May 14 Wrexham Focus Wales
Fact: Jones studied at the Royal Academy of Music and has played with Gruff Rhys in the Super Furry Animals man’s other band Neon Neon