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Margot & The Nuclear So and So's - The Dust Of Retreat

Margot and the Nuclear So and So's, The Dust of Retreat

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

NOT much is known on these shores about Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, an eight-piece from Indianapolis – but they’re worth checking out for any fan of leftfield indie pop.

The band is fronted by Richard Edwards, who describes their sound as “chamber-pop” – although comparisons have been made to indie rock groups such as The Arcade Fire, The Decemberists and The Shins, as well as the likes of Paul Simon.

There’s also a touch of quirkier bands such as Ben Folds and, to a lesser degree, The Polyphonic Spree thanks to their expansive sound and offbeat songwriting.

Just to add to that idiosyncratic sensibility, Richard once claimed that the band’s name was derived from his daughter, Margot, even though he doesn’t have a daughter, as well as his enjoyment of president George W Bush’s pronunciation of the word “nuclear”.

It’s actually in tribute to the character of Margot, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, in the Wes Anderson film The Royal Tenenbaums – and it’s little surprise to find that some of their songs could easily find their way onto an Anderson soundtrack.

To continue the quirky theme, they also live in one house, located in Indianapolis.

But what about the music? It’s an engaging collection of multi-layered songs that are all built around strong melodic hooks and a strong sense of instrumentation.

Edwards, himself, supplies the main vocals and guitar, while there’s the odd bit of cello and trumpet to augment the basics such as percussion, piano and bass.

Opening track A Sea Chanty Of Sorts is a fine introduction – an epic slow-builder that introduces Richard’s melancholy style and the wonderful instrumentation that accompanies each track.

The introduction of cello is well-realised and gradual, there are some hauntingly atmospheric electronics, a slow, entrancing beat and – late on – some wonderful female vocals drifting in and out.

It gives way to the more upbeat Skeleton Key, another track that’s rich in melody and wonderful imagery. The guitar licks are often quite inspiring, while the tick-tock style beat works well in tandem with the cello once more.

The change of tempo midway through is utterly enchanting and completely disarming.

Elsewhere, the wonderfully titled Vampires In Blue Dresses really hints at Ben Folds vocally, while introducing a country element into some of its guitar riffs – albeit with a quirky sensibility.

Quiet As A Mouse is an indie rock classic that’s a little more gutsy, while the guitar and cello combination of Dress Me Like A Clown gives rise to another of the album’s highlights.

The quirkier side, meanwhile, is best illustrated by the miaow laden Paperkitten Nightmare which completes the picture in suitably diverse fashion.

As previously mentioned, Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s may not be a name that rolls off the tongue or one that is particularly well-known on this side of the Atlantic – but for those who enjoy discovering excellent new bands early, The Dust Of Retreat offers a veritable goldmine of quality.

It’s well worth making the discovery!

Track listing:

  1. Sea Chanty of Sorts
  2. Skeleton Key
  3. Vampires in Blue Dresses
  4. Quiet as a Mouse
  5. Jen Is Bringin the Drugs
  6. Dress Me Like a Clown
  7. On a Freezing Chicago Street
  8. Paper Kitten Nightmare
  9. Barfight Revolution, Power Violence
  10. Light on a Hill
  11. Talking in Code
  12. Bookworm