Play: Void Lighting >>>
Not recommended as a party kick-starter, the sound of Paisley-based pairing Small Town Boredom (STB) should be experienced alone; preferably with a whisky in hand, possibly nursing a broken heart. Interruptions are not welcome. Sign on the door: Do Not Disturb.
Originally formed in 2001 by Fraser McGowan and Colin Morrison, STB's 2007 vinyl-only release, Autumn Might Have Hope, seemed to require extra care when placing it on the turntable for fear of fracturing its delicate reveries. Barely rising above a whisper, the record's impact was profound. It was involving and introspective, or, as McGowan puts it, "honest, if a touch depressing".
What followed was a tour alongside the likes of Adrian Crawley and Eagleowl that ultimately ended in burnout; the heavy schedule culminating in the sort of personal demons that somehow make artists all the more compelling.
Thankfully, after a period of rest and reflection, STB have returned with a new album. Like all their work, Notes from the Infirmary was lovingly made in a Paisley attic "using computers, 8-tracks and dictaphones" with help from bassist Richard Kengen and guitarist Gordon Bartholomew.
Both permanent band members work as full-time engineers, crafting their recordings during their spare time. "Personally I find making music very therapeutic, I can lose myself for hours each night in recording and mixing - that's the stuff I enjoy," says McGowan.
But, after the fallout from their last tour, the duo are unwilling to delve too deeply into the music business. "Playing live and promoting what we do I hate, so we don't do it that much," McGowan explains. "I think we will keep making music as long as we enjoy the process, if that ever goes I don't think I would do it anymore."
Despite their west-coast roots, STB are much more excited about the Edinburgh music scene than Glasgow's. "There is a lot of great stuff going on in Edinburgh just now. Bands such as Eagleowl, The Kays Lavelle, Withered Hand and The Leg for example, their music has affected me massively," says McGowan, "I'm really not a big fan of the music scene in Glasgow, I think it's completely overrated and most of the bands getting hype or press just now bore me."
The new album continues where Autumn Might Have Hope left off. 'Void Lighting' is a carefully crafted love song which draws you in with an intensity rarely heard since Nine Inch Nails' 'Hurt', while 'World's Most Unwanted' dares to raise the tempo, vocals building to a stunning finale.
A magnificently hushed masterpiece, Notes from the Infirmary proves Paisley has a band to shout about. If this is what small town boredom can create, then it's certainly not as futile as it sounds.
Notes from the Infirmary is due for release later this year, although no date has yet been finalised. In the meantime, Autumn Might Have Hope is available from tromerecords.com
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