Stardate 1999: we're on the verge of a new millennium that'll be filled with flying cars and robot servants. No-one seems to have told [B]The Mutton Birds[/B]....

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Ananda Shankar

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Ananda Shankar

Stardate 1999: we’re on the verge of a new millennium that’ll be filled with flying cars and robot servants. No-one seems to have told The Mutton Birds. There’s that album title for a start, borrowed from a Turner painting. Like, what’s a [I]painting[/I]?

They may be out of step with the times, but they parade unfashionable influences brazenly: [a]Crowded House[/a], Matthew Sweet, Martin Stephenson. The closest they get to being up to date is sounding like Teenage Fanclub on ‘Green Lantern’. Yet these are all solid pop classicists, and no student of such tutors can graduate without an ear for swooning melody. Songwriter Dan McGlashan proves this early on with ‘Winning Numbers’, a glorious hymn to the joys of finding fulfilment in your life. It would give Alex Chilton sleepless nights if such an idea weren’t so… [I]anachronistic[/I].

After this ecstatic pop rush you can almost forgive The Mutton Birds anything. But despite the beguiling acoustic shimmer of ‘Jackie’s Song’ and the compelling ache of ‘Ray’, little else here really registers.

One good song is enough to make you smile. But it’s not enough to make you ignore the fact that when we’re living in the 21st century, albums like this might seem a tad embarrassing.