Nick Mulvey - First Mind
Do we need any more bearded blokes with guitars, so legion they now qualify for their own sub-genre? That’s the kind of jaded view that Nick Mulvey is fighting against. Formerly one quarter of Portico Quartet, Mulvey has an intricate knowledge of musical form and history having studied music and art in Havana at 19 before returning to the UK to study Ethnomusicology at the School of Oriental and African Studies. If that all sounds a little pretentious that feeling seems to be confirmed by the centre pages of his debut’s CD booklet and its "Table of right hand picking & strumming patterns". If you've switched off, consider yourself forgiven.
Happily, Mulvey and this thrilling debut aren’t up themselves in the slightest. First Mind is guitar music at its purest and most deliberate. Building his songs around lightning fingered guitar playing, Mulvey relies on his voice and secondary guitar to create the atmosphere. The intricate ‘April’ is brooding, ‘Juramidam’ is pulsing, the title track and ‘Ailsa Craig’ contain impressive noodling while ‘I Don’t Want To Go Home’ is contemplative. Lyrically it’s intriguing in places too: ‘Meet You There’ (“After all the people picking people picking people apart”) for example. The Olive-sampling ‘Nitrous’ mixes things up. The highlight, followed closely by the sumptuous funky pop of ‘Cucurucu’, is the fantastic ‘Fever To The Form’. The smooth voice, dual acoustic guitar, and droning bass guide you through four minutes of riveting folk-pop. Delicate and beguiling, this is one of the year’s best. Push up at the back, we need room for one more.