Quietly, Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell pulled off a smooth transition during the mid-'90s, abandoning the then-trendy shoegazer sound they'd perfected with Slowdive for an organic, country/folk aesthetic with Mojave 3. On their new band's first two albums, the British singer-songwriters maintained an even keel from beginning to end, reserving emotional peaks for the most memorable songs. Excuses for Travellers finds Mojave 3 confidently striding into their own style, with Halstead's near-whisper balancing atop a cascade of electric guitar notes and strummed acoustics, horns, piano, and backing vocals adding bursts of color. Even so, it's not without its touchstones. "Return to Sender" brings to mind the Rolling Stones' collaborations with Gram Parsons, finding common ground in the pub singalong and the roadhouse dirge. "Trying to Reach You" sounds like an update of Neil Young's "Lotta Love," with Halstead singing longingly over a wash of banjo and pedal steel. On "Bringin' Me Home," with Goswell on lead vocals, the group juxtaposes a budding melody with a sad waltz of words, placing Mojave 3 as contemporaries of Belle & Sebastian. Though it's too simple an album to call perfect, Excuses for Travellers sets out to sustain a genteel, reflective mood, and it does so, perfectly.
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Excuses for Travellers based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Mojave 3 is a band which has progressed a long way. Listening to the band's 1996 debut CD Ask Me Tomorrow, the audience begins to feel like a professor reading an English paper prepared the night before its due date; there are one or two nice ideas intermingled with so much fluff, that one asks, ''what's the point.'' The band improved immensely during the next three years, adding variety and freshness to their relase Out of Tune. Mojave 3 continues its growth through its newest installment, Excuses for Travellers. The album stays true to the band's overall hypnotic, mellow sound, but a diversity in style is also apparent. ''Any Day Will Be Fine'' exhibits an uncharacteristically accelerated tempo. The drunken-group-karaoke chorus in ''Return to Sender'' lends a creative, unique sound. Horns, organ, and harmonica, instruments sadly underutilized in many bands repertoire, are integrated beautifully into many tracks including my personal favorite on this cd, ''Always Right.'' Excuses for Travellers balances between tradition and exploration, simultaneously retaining the bands unique style and expanding their musical and creative capabilities.
Since Slowdive dissolved into Mojave 3 some years ago, Halstead appears bent on getting in touch with his inner child to the point of wallowing in it. While ''Out of Tune'' churns out some happy songs, here on ''Excuses for Travellers,'' Halstead appears to have more of a solo record about his own trials and tribulations, often with disasterous effects. Rachael Goswells appearance here is almost non-existent leaving the listener to suspect that there is trouble in the Mojave camp. The focus of Halstead's songs are so self-pitying and self-centered you can only hope that it isn't the sign of a break-up. Next time out, fans of Mojave 3 and Slowdive should take a careful listening to the new LP's before buying, lest they suffer the same fate of wallowing in sadness.