Mojave 3

Excuses For Travellers (4AD)

Note to Mojave 3: For the love of all that's holy, free Rachel Goswell! Let her sing! And while we're at it, how about plugging in those guitars for a few numbers? The amps may not go to 11, but they must go past 4, people.

Anyone who enjoyed this terminally mellow bunch of Brits back when they were called Slowdive has to be thinking along these lines. Excuses For Travellers is the third disc from Mojave 3, and like its predecessors, Ask Me Tomorrow (1996) and the critically acclaimed Out of Tune(1998), it's a one-note listen. No soaring high or crashing low, just even-keeled melancholia. It's a decent disc for sipping merlot and watching the sun set on the beach, but there's more to the emotional palette than pastel oranges and purples. And by the third such offering, you can't help but wonder if Neil Halstead, the driving force behind both Slowdive and Mojave 3, has anything else up his sleeve. The answer is yes, but he seems reluctant to pull out the big guns.

Which brings us to the question of Mojave 3's other singer, bassist Goswell. The woman is blessed with an angelic voice: gauzy, sexy, and ethereal all at once. She opens her mouth, and beauty flows into the world -- witness the achingly lovely "Love Songs on the Radio," the first track on Ask Me Tomorrow. Yet Halstead doles her out in frustratingly small doses on Excuses For Travellers. She's featured on just one track, the bouncy "Bringin' Me Home," which she wrote. Just as he did on the other two Mojave 3 discs, Halstead keeps Goswell under wraps, apparently preferring the sound of his own nasal voice.

Back in the days of Slowdive, Halstead wasn't afraid to crank it up a bit either. The result was often discordant, cacophonous, but surprisingly pretty, like Radiohead when that band gets it right. Critics called the band members "shoegazers," but Slowdive had bite, buzz, and introspection. Halstead seems to have given up on the first two and become lost in a world of the third.

 
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