The Border Surrender – Oh Mary (single)
Fortunately the four minutes of ‘Oh Mary’ stand up perfectly well on their own. The London four-piece construct an elaborate song that builds up and pulls back with relaxed restraint, supported throughout by a simple hooky bassline and soft vocals. At times the song’s almost minimalistic, with everything bar the bass and vocals stripped out, and other times it leaps out at you with understated drums, deft mandolin picking and fuzzed-up keys added to the mix, combining into a busy but smooth whole.
According to the accompanying press release the band spent most of last year working on their songwriting skills and developing a unique sound, and on the strength of this single they’re capable of combining their respective musical talents into an effective song without producing something distractingly cluttered. It’s just as busy as it needs to be, retaining a deliberate yet laid-back air throughout. It’s on the basis of this that I’m reminded of the latest Black Keys album, but aside from the occasionally fuzzy sound and the general air of cool there’s not much in common there. Classic artists like Neil Young and Buffalo Springfield plus younger outfits such as My Morning Jacket and Built to Spill are hat-tipped as influences, but I’m not familiar enough with any of those artists to really comment (yep, even Neil Young… I apologise for nothing). Still, on the strength of this single I’m keen to see what the Border Surrender do next. Roll on the next (hopefully longer) record.