[sic] Magazine

Musée Mécanique – Hold This Ghost

The Musée Mécanique is a fascinating penny arcade in San Francisco where over a hundred, working-order antique amusements are open to the public. On first appearance, the band seem a less intriguing proposition. Portland-based – who isn’t? – and surfing a 2008 rerelease of their debut album Hold This Ghost, they inhabit sonic space like an inoffensive breeze through one of Ray Davies ‘s lazy afternoons.

Not that this isn’t a likeable seam to mine. Their folkish indie and ebbing electronic percussion nudges Grandaddy awake on several occasions, and at their most folkish on the bucolic picking of “The Things That I Know” their shuffling nods and winks bathe the listener in aural sunshine. Notably, to coin an awkward term, it’s all rather un-Americana-esque and rather British as a result – restrained, reserved and pastoral.

Sadly though, this unchallenging soundtrack suffers just as The Leisure Society did last year. There is little to fault, but in the same caveat there is little to recommend. At their most effective, Musée Mécanique offer impeccable rhythms and laidback accordion and on “Fits And Starts” it’s all rather lovely. In other places however, Hold This Ghost is too insubstantial, too unwilling to make a scene and certain lyrics are questionable to the point of jarring. For example, on “The Propellors”, Micah Rabwin labours through precise dates to general ineffect, “December 17th, 1903/ Propellers turn to wings/ The age of air at hand.

Just as their namesake is, Musée Mécanique are a curiosity caught out of time. They seem to offer a window on another age, an age that unfortunately no longer impacts the present. Though a pleasant distraction, the mournful tones of Hold This Ghost – now already a two-year old vehicle – struggle in the fast lane.

Hold This Ghost is out now on Frog Stand Records.