Listen to this song by one man act Colin MacIntyre, AKA Mull Historical Society. It’s the self-referential “Mull Historical Society” as taken from MacIntyre’s debut album under that name, Loss, put out in 2001 to critical acclaim if not to worldwide adulation. Yet, this is the sound of pure pop, and seemingly infused with sunshine and optimism, which is my favourite kind of pop.
There seemed to be a spate of pop artists coming out of Scotland by the end of the 90s and the early part of our current decade, inspired by the orchestral pop of the late 60s. And MacIntyre certainly struck me that way, along with other acts like Cosmic Rough Riders and The Pearlfishers, all motivated by the creation of bright pop tunes, heavy on the melody and on scale too. These were big and unabashed pop songs.
This one in particular is not only a big pop record, it seems to defy you not to sing along in spite of some very over-the-top arrangements of horns, wah-wah guitar, and anything else MacIntyre can think to add. With a sound like this, you’d expect that the Mull Historical Society was just that – a throng of people all playing together with whatever instruments they had on hand, rather than a single multi-instrumentalist with aspirations to Lennon-McCartney and Brian Wilson visions of pop grandeur.
And at the same time, this song and the approach it took to create it makes you think that indie music need not necessarily mean sullen, or po-faced. For me, creating a little world inside of a pop song is a tough bit of sonic alchemy at the best of times. Yet this one, seems to have been handed down from the heavens, maybe even on a flaming pie.
For more about Colin MacIntyre and Mull Historical Society, check out the Colin MacIntyre website.