Five Roses – Miracle Fortress

Label: Rough Trade

God, it must be nice in California. Scrap that – it must be perfect, really, mustn’t it. We’ve not been, not physically, though after imbuing a near half century’s worth of popular culture from or influenced by it we have a firm fantasy land in our head populated by undying rays of sunshine, waves crashing against golden sands, breathtaking desert vistas, geysers, film stars lolling on lilos in swimming pools full of narcotics, orange groves for sustenance and carefree days spent driving down Route 1 with the hood down and the wind in our hair. They’ve even got a comedy state governor from 80s blockbuster cinema. It must all be enough to drown out those packs of incessant psychoanalysing teenagers.

Miracle Fortress is not from California, nor is he (for in the studio Miracle Fortress is the solo project of Graham Van Pelt) a displaced Californian, not in the literal sense anyway. For all we know he may have never even been, only like us he’s clearly spent an awful lot of time there. In fact Montreal, Canada is the place he calls home – also seemingly the base for all that is creative in music at the current time – which only makes him all the more perfect.

This is west coast 60’s psychedelia, the kind that when you lie back and close your eyes you can feel the sun’s warmth nourishing your whole being. The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson may in effect inform the whole record, but this becomes especially pronounced on the undercurrent to ‘Maybe Lately’ and through the intoxicatingly layered vocals that build during ‘Hold Your Secrets To Your Heart’. The texture of the record is refined through more modern filters and holds more direct kinship with the likes of The Radio Dept and The Earlies. This is evident with the disciplined, clean, morning dew shimmer of the instrumentation and delicious light-headed disposition of songs like ‘This Thing About You’, ‘Blasphemy’ and album highlight ‘Beach Baby’.

‘Five Roses’ is the sound of genuine bliss, untainted. If he could put it in a capsule and sell it over the counter he’d be able to buy half of the State with which his music holds such an affinity. Aural administration will however suffice for the time being.

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Release: Miracle Fortress - Five Roses
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Released: 28 September 2007