Half Cousin - Iodine

Iodine continues in the vein of Half Cousin's 2004 debut album The Function Room. It's an Orkney-brewed blend of folk, pop and creaky electronica, only this time the results are easier to admire than to like.

Perhaps it's rather killjoy to berate such a determinedly offbeat release (especially in a week when Leona Lewis is at number one in the album chart). I mean, when was the last time you heard a song about an Irish country band touring Orkney dressed as Red Indians? Not that you'd know it without being told. Kevin Cormack somehow manages to be pure of voice yet frustratingly hard to understand, probably due to his accent. (At times, he seems only a small step away from Sigur Ros' Jón Þór Birgisson; although Half Cousin don't try for that band's otherworldly majesty.) Thank God for the lyric booklet, anyway.

Big Chief (The B&B Frequenter), juxtaposing beats with accordion, might make one think of Malcolm Middleton's Scottish miserablism and Your Name James Yorkston's back-to-basics folk, but mostly Iodine is like observing a strange island ritual with not much clue as to what's going on. Those seeking slightly more accessible folk-pop-electronica would be better off with Tunng's Good Arrows.


***


Kevin Cormack's track-by-track guide to Iodine.


Big Chief (The B&B Frequenter)
This is about an Irish Country band called "The Indians" who used to come to Orkney to play a lot in the 1980's. They all dressed as Red Indians. The singer was called "Big Chief". The song hints at an 'incident' in the B&B he used to always stay in.

Jim's Crash Memory
My Uncle was involved in a crash when he was a young. The van, him and his friends were driving back to town in went off the road and rolled down a hill. I remember he told me one guy was flung from the back door and left hanging on a barbed wire fence.

Charity
This is about walking down the street with a pretty girl and other men looking at her and trying to catch her eye..

The Absentee
In the pub this man drinks in everyone keeps on going on about 'the absentee'. He gets sick of it and starts dating the absentee's ex-girlfriend, as some kind of revenge. He also, supposedly, looks a lot like him.

Police Torch
This song is inspired by the character ThorfinnVik, from the George Mackay Brown short story "A Calender Of Love". He's a crofter who drives a green van around the parishes of Orkney, picking up girls at country dances.

Rat Pack Dad
This is based on a singer/crooner from the 60's a friend of mine used to know. But it could be about a lot of British men of a certain generation
who seemed to be very influenced by 1950's American culture, especially the more Show-Biz side of it.

Family Thumb
Is about someone trying to save someone else from their self-destructive nature - and the other person being suspicious of this.

Your Name
I'd read "The Name" in Raymond Carver's book "A New Path to the Waterfall', about what it's like to wake up and not remember your name for a few seconds. The old man in the song is suffering from Alzheimer's and I imagined it being similar to, and a more extreme version of, that state of namelessness.

Overall

5

out of 10

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