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Mordecai Smyth -The Mayor Of Toytown Is Dead album review

A collection of curious, psych-soaked pop – from Reading

Mordecai Smyth -The Mayor Of Toytown Is Dead album artwork

You can’t fault Mordecai Smyth’s attention to detail. The first full-length follow-up to 2011’s Sticky Tape And Rust is brimming with instrumental settings that constitute a kind of aural shorthand for late-60s breezy pop and the darker tones of the early 70s. If some of these tunes appear familiar in places, that’s because his writing is ‘informed by the music of yesteryear’. Thus twangy guitars, breathy flute, sweet harmonies, sinuous clarinet, sprightly beats and folds of luscious Mellotron are craftily marshalled into an agreeably trippy set consisting of nine songs. The clever trick here is that they manage this heart-on-the-sleeve homage while avoiding any obvious rip-offs. Just in case the connection to a more whimsical era wasn’t entirely obvious, a swaying, singalong cover of Caravan’s Golf Girl dispels any doubts. Its inclusion, though pleasant enough, seems unnecessary given the strength of the material, such as Heading Back West, which could’ve been found down the back of Ray Davies’ old sofa, or the impending uncertainties lurking beneath Far From The Crowd’s sunny exteriors. Guest spot soloing from Strawbs‘ Dave Lambert bookends a lovingly assembled collection blessed with a special atmosphere.

Sid Smith
Sid Smith

Sid's feature articles and reviews have appeared in numerous publications including Prog, Classic Rock, Record Collector, Q, Mojo and Uncut. A full-time freelance writer with hundreds of sleevenotes and essays for both indie and major record labels to his credit, his book, In The Court Of King Crimson, an acclaimed biography of King Crimson, was substantially revised and expanded in 2019 to coincide with the band’s 50th Anniversary. Alongside appearances on radio and TV, he has lectured on jazz and progressive music in the UK and Europe.  

A resident of Whitley Bay in north-east England, he spends far too much time posting photographs of LPs he's listening to on Twitter and Facebook.