McAlmont & Butler – Bring It Back

Album Review by Mark Bayross

It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since McAlmont & Butler scored hit singles with YES and YOU DO, as well as the accompanying album THE SOUND OF MCALMONT & BUTLER, before having the mother of all bust-ups and stomping off their separate ways.

Fortunately, time is indeed the proverbial Great Healer, and the ex-Suede guitarist, feeling the overwhelming urge to create that epic sound of his once more, knew he had to bury the hatchet and seek out the one man whose voice could do justice to his songs.

And he must be delighted that he did, because David McAlmont (formerly of indie-soul duo Thieves) possesses an astonishing set of tonsils. It was little surprise that David Arnold asked him to lend his Shirley Bassey-tastic voice to his cover of DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and the composer returns the favour here with some enormous-sounding orchestral arrangements.

From the opening back-in-business THEME FROM [“He’s a Stratocaster kinda guy / He plugged his Copycat inside and turned his Marshall up to grind… / And he, he sings like a bird or an angel or sumthin’ / He sold his soul to get those vibes”] and epic wall of sound first single FALLING, you can tell that these two haven’t abandoned the sweeping arrangements and soaring vocals of old. The scale of the sound is impressive, although does have a Christmassy-bells-and-strings feel to it that could sound naff if you were in the wrong frame of mind.

David McAlmont’s soulful voice can’t help but lend many of the songs a Motown vibe, especially when accompanied by backing harmonies like on SUNNY BOY, but other tracks have a stripped-down acoustic (BLUE) or electronic (WHERE R U NOW) backing that turn down the dramatics and give him room to breathe.

The album ends in rousing, anthemic fashion with BEAT, an epic closer with everything but the kitchen sink thrown into the mix. As if anyone would have thought otherwise.

This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea by any means, but if you liked what these two very talented, very different chaps did last time, you’ll love this. Plus, it goes to show what reconciliation can do for you.

4 stars

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