December 4th, 2006

The Independent Scrutineer

Originally published at Please leave any comments there.

Today I have mostly been listening to The Independent Scrutineer, Pagan Wanderer Lu’s new EP. It’s very highly recommendable, and well worth the fiver I paid for it.

Unlike his previous releases, The Independent Scrutineer comes on a properly pressed CD (rather than a CD-R) and in a shiny jewel case with full-colour printing, though I know that in time I’ll miss the look and feel of the handmade folded brown paper, handwritten/newspaper cuttings CDs.
But that’s not the only thing that feels more “professional” about this release than his previous EPs… it sounds brilliant. With a cleaner, better-edited sound, PWL makes for genuinely fantastic listening. It’s still characteristically Lu: Repetition 2, my favourite track of the disc, still has it’s quirky discordant moments, but now they sound more funky than ever. Repetition 1 is clean and sharp and just slightly more openly emotional than many of his songs, and —- and Knight -> King 4 remain the fabulous ballads they were born as. There’s nothing new, strictly speaking, here, but the presentation, but it’s easily worth taking the time to listen to even if you’ve got a full library of pirated MP3s already.

Our New Hospital Sucks disappointed me a little. It’s a great song, but I think the best I’ve ever heard it was live, which is somewhat unusual: it just feels like it’s trying too hard to be loud and not hard enough to be smart. The Memorial Hall is a wonderful (and sad) song, but I preferred it when the time-signature transition in the middle was a little more obvious: a little more “raw”. Perhaps PWL’s just finding his feet in this exciting fast-paced world of “having real CDs cut and not having to burn them himself,” or perhaps I’m just being a little bit nostalgic.

Nonetheless, a brilliant CD. My minor gripes with it are most likely my general pickiness, and certainly don’t make the compilation itself any less enjoyable. And you can even listen to plenty of it online before you decide that it’s worth five of your Earth pounds.

Additional: What the fuck is Knight -> King 4 actually about? We’re very befuddled by it, lovely though it is. Answers on a postcard. Or in a comment would do, too.