Over a decade in the making; The New Mendicants (made up of Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake with ex and current Pernice Brothers members Mike Belitsky and Joe Pernice) follow this summer’s Australia EP with Into The Lime; a ten-track collection of breezy, harmony-heavy tracks combining witty storytelling with 60s influenced vibes.
While the influence of both individual bands is there, it’s a watered-down measurement, with any electric influences ridden from the studio (with the exception of closer Lifelike Hair, which shifts from the floaty Byrds-esque 60s to experimental Doors-style distortion). The problem there lies within the fact that it’s one of the most interesting tracks on the LP, which otherwise comprises of nine pleasant but mostly forgettable songs.
Even when the subject of Christmas is approached, the subject matter is interesting enough (“On a very sorry Christmas Eve I wonder if the ghosts will let me be,” did Fred get Scrooge an acoustic for Christmas?) but musically it’s the same inoffensive style, which can be heard on Sarasota, Follow You Down and even the more upbeat Shouting Match, where a dose of humour not heard since the heyday of The Beautiful South is upped (“Started as a lover’s spat, now it’s World War 3 in a third floor flat”) but still struggles to raise a smirk.
When the songwriting is simple without trying too hard for laughs, and the instruments are turned down to make way for the stunning blend of vocals, there is something special to be heard. If You Only Knew Her (“…you’d love her truly”) does it best, channelling messrs Crosby, Still, Nash and Young, while the harmonica stabs of Cruel Annette and rich-production of the title track appear to reference Macca at various parts of his career.
There are moments of honesty and sincerity (alongside some mediocre puns), but they aren’t always the stories you want to hear.