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Now Hear This: Micko & The Mellotronics | ½ Dove – ½ Pigeon

I'm getting caught up on the good albums that have come out lately. Like this one.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “I titled the record ½ Dove – ½ Pigeon because I thought it was an honest reflection on how most people see themselves…” muses Micko Westmoreland of the record’s intriguing title. Tongue firmly in cheek, it’s an early indicator that this is a record of a different breed. Packed with Jarvis-esque lyrical quips, wry humour and a gleeful sense of experimentation, ½ dove – ½ pigeon takes us into the idiosyncratic mind of Westmoreland, a musician, actor and creative already well known for his solo releases under his own name and material as The Bowling Green.

From the observational to the personal, Westmoreland is a songwriter unafraid to put some of the world’s peculiarities and his own fascinations under the microscope and on ½ dove – ½ pigeon he offers ruminations on a kaleidoscopic gamut of topics. Tracks such as explosive opener Noisy Neighbours, previous single The Finger and Sick & Tired (the first track penned for the record) find Westmoreland blowing apart the petty and mundane in life with rollicking ripostes. Elsewhere, the likes of You Killed My Father, Psychedelic Shirt & Good Friend find time for reflections on the passing of time and of bygone eras; technicoloured in their time paradoxes, rather than sepia-tinted with a sense of nostalgia, these are songs packed with “an emotional quality, but one that goes easy on the violins & dressing” jokes Micko.

Matching their infectious art-punk sound with lyrics that are erudite and entertaining, Westmoreland crams in innumerable references to pop-culture, philosophy, history and more throughout. From punk-rock ditties about Filipino dictators (Imelda) to philosophical fantasies about the work of eminent psychologist Georg Eifert (The Fear) and life imitating art in New York City (Halcyon Days), ½ dove – ½ pigeon is an education of the most eccentric and electrifying kind. Building-up an array of TV & film connections over the years (most notably in his starring role in the cult ’90s movie Velvet Goldmine, but also working with actors Paul Putner (Little Britain) and Susy Kane (The I.T. Crowd, Gavin & Stacey) on the music videos for the Mellotronics singles The Finger and Noisy Neighbours respectively, Westmoreland’s fascination in drama intrinsically spilled into the record too.

“I’m interested in ‘kitchen sink’-type themes & often reflect upon this through ‘comment’ or ‘discussion’ which comes from the mouths of others; day to day stuff,” says Micko. “I’m interested in using ‘headlines’ but not always mine; my take is in the small print. So the tracks are tiered a bit like a wedding cake, they can be ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’ for that matter on any level.”

½ dove – ½ pigeon is the first release in which Westmoreland is joined by his impressive backing band. Forming in 2017, The Mellotronics initially began playing out as a three-piece with founding member Nick Mackay (drums) and the enigmatic addition of Vicky Carroll (band “wicket keeper” and bass player) in the wings. Making steady headway on what would become their debut album, a chance encounter in 2018 with revolutionary guitarist Jon Klein (Siouxsie & the Banshees/Specimen, and founder of the iconic Batcave club) would prove to be a pivotal moment. As Klein and Westmoreland hit upon an instant and stimulating creative chemistry from the off, ½ Dove – ½ Pigeon began to really take flight both live and in the studio.

Speaking of their working relationship Westmoreland says: “I met Jon Klein when I was a good way through the writing but his input to the sound, feel & production of the record is vast & extensive. I’d come up with something & work it up & then take over to Jon’s, usually on a Friday where we’d go at it, push things around, take it to bits until it came into full focus, we’d both work collectively & independently on the material. Jon is our ‘rock star hiding in plain sight’ with quite a pedigree, he’s not a secret weapon, he’s deadly.”

A stellar array of special guest musicians and songwriters also crop-up throughout the record. The Specials’ bassist Horace Panter (a friend & collaborator who has worked with Micko on an annual charity record alongside Rat Scabies for the last seven years) contributes to The Finger and Sick & Tired, plus the late Monty Python/The Rutles/Bonzos great: Neil Innes lets his playing skills shine on You Killed My Father. Elsewhere horn impresario Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey/Madness/Nick Cave) and alternative violinist in excelsis Dylan Bates (Waiting On Dwarfs/Penge Triangle), bring ample amounts of horror to creepy curve-ball cut The Fear.

An album of slick new wave and razor-edged rock ’n’ roll, packed with even sharper quips and bone-dry witticisms; ½ dove – ½ pigeon invites you to revel in the obtuse and celebrate pop’s avant garde with a novel and inclusive sense of fun. While quite happy to leave convention and commonality at the door, it’s a record that always knows not to take itself too seriously but with a point. The world is surely serious enough right now… ”