Mobile Safari (Up)
by Nik Rainey
Thirteen years ago, The Pastels ambled out of Glasgow with a charmingly awkward pop shimmy and some of the most out-of-tune vox ever to grace vinyl. Their sound served as a touchstone for others (The Vaselines, Beat Happening, et al) to follow in their sweetly maledroit footsteps. Now it’s ’96, the P’s are back, and guess what? They’re still awkward and still sing like a bunch of pubescents in mid-crack! Arrested development? But of course – what would it benefit the ‘stels if they grew up?
Maybe I’m being a little unfair. Musically, they scrape off the leavings of Britpop with more polite finesse than before, and Stephen Pastel’s voice is a bit deeper, if still as stalwart in avoiding the right notes as before. Otherwise, femme-warbler Aggi sounds like Mo Tucker with haggis on her palate as much as ever, and their lyrical content still concerns itself with lovelorn teenybop matters like every other pop band on the planet. But when you’ve got lilting lovelies like “Yoga” and “Mobile Deli,” which transfers the best elements of low-budget antipodean pop to the Isles, there’s little room for complaint. Gentle and plaintive, even when complaining about the state of commercial music, Mobile Safari puts a nice sway in yer kilt.