Being born a Scot brings with it a wealth of initiatives. For one, or so it would seem, you have more gumption than many others of our shared island nations, a spirit that is spunky, inquisitive and engaging. But don't think for one minute that I infer others, from Wales, Ireland and England haven't got their share of similar artists but Scotland does seem to be on the cusp of something currently. Fiercely independent, passionately committed and not among those sleepwalking through a revolving door to an unknown future. This is not, we are told, a concept album. I care little whether it is or isn't. What I like about it is its relentless energy, it's possessing a sense of standing on its own two legs and not being lead by the nose to chew the cud some corporate, some politico has fed you. Here are songs, individual in their concept, that make you sit up and listen. There is a future out there and you, the public, need to know what it is. Be it good, bad or indifferent. It is after all your future and only you can shape it the way you want to live it. All else is a transference of responsibility, a shifting of guilt onto somebody else's shoulders. That, dear readers, is just dumb. That is sitting back and accepting whatever shit is thrown your way then whinging. That doesn't wash. Take charge of your life, of yourself. This album certainly does that.
Back in the nineties, Noel Gallagher championed The Beta Band. They were among many critics band of choice. They were not of the Brit-Pop movement, if such a thing truly existed, they came after. They were different. They were good.
In 2009, Steve Mason began work on his first solo album. It was to be called 'Boys Outside.' It had a quirky, pop-meets-electronica sound. It was warmly inviting and a little thrilling. It too was good. Reminiscent in many ways of acts such as New Order or even Hot Chip. It was, still is, very much of its time.
Then, in 2013, Steve released 'Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time.' An examination of his long term suffering with depression. His sense of isolation and loneliness. Two emotions I empathise with. It was, I guess, quite introspective but not at the risk of distancing the audience from listening to what was fine, and worthy an album.
"Meet The Humans" is equally notable even if its raison-d'etre is very different. Definitely worth a listen if not a purchase.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.