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Matt Costa – Mobile Chateau

Matt Costa, Mobile Chateau

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4.5 out of 5

MATT Costa reinvents himself with the release of his third album, Mobile Chateau, which draws successfully on his long-time love for ’60s psychedelic heroes such as Donovan and The Zombies.

The ensuing collection of songs is a real retro blast that delights from start to finish, and which firmly establishes Costa as a fearless and hugely talented performer.

The tone is set from the start with The Season, a smart slice of psychedelic rock that tells its tale of heartbreak amid crisp ’60s pop guitar riffs, show-time piano chords and Mamas and Papas style harmonising. Costa may sing resolutely “go on and break my heart”, but he’s all set to win ours.

Johnny’s Love of Majik combines Beach Boys melodies with some more sparkling guitar work and excellent lyricism (albeit slightly trippy), while Drive – like its name suggests – is pure Brian Wilson, with a breezy sunshine element befitting playing it loud on the beach.

The title track, Mobile Chateau, finds Costa adopting an almost falsetto vocal style, stripping things back to acoustic levels, but maintaining the classic vibe – rather than the campfire sound more befitting his Brushfire label mate Jack Johnson. If anything, it’s Costa’s Simon & Garfunkel moment.

Elsewhere, there’s a funky slice of ‘60s pop-rock on Can You Tell Me, a trippy, edgy number on Idol and a breezy slice of ‘60s trad pop on the excellent former single Witchcraft, another of the album’s pure highlights.

It’s clear from listening to the album as a whole, however, that Costa likes to be diverse… so even when indulging his passion for a retro scene he still keeps the mix lively and eclectic.

Hence, Painted Face – a tale of a melancholy clown – is beautifully cryptic (“there are two sides to a painted face, one side’s real and one side’s fake”), simply told (with just acoustic licks and slight percussion) and as trippy as its head-space suggests.

There’s a minimalist vibe surrounding the almost a capella Bleeding Hearts until some horns and twinkling piano arrangements enliven things at around the minute mark, again showcasing Costa’s knack for keeping things playful and the listener on their toes.

Secret boasts a mysterious romanticism about it, that’s more than a little psychedelic in delivery, but with a fine sense of melody, and Strings of Change a real classic in the making, thanks to its husky delivery and cracking guitar work. It’s got to end up on a soundtrack of some sort.

Final track Next Time brings things to a premature end, meanwhile, with a Byrds on acid slink that’s utterly irresistible.

Costa has therefore created an ode to a classic sound that is an instant classic all of its own. It’s a brilliant return from one of the most interesting artists of the moment, which – at a little over 30 minutes in running time – doesn’t last long enough!

Read our interview with Matt Costa

Download picks: The Season, Drive, Mobile Chateau, Witchcraft, Painted Face, Strings of Change, Next Time

Track listing:

  1. The Season
  2. Johnny’s Love of Magik
  3. Drive
  4. Mobile Chateau
  5. Can You Tell Me
  6. Idol
  7. Witchcraft
  8. Painted Face
  9. Bleeding Hearts
  10. Secret
  11. Strings of Change
  12. Next Time