Label: Slow Train records Release date: 26/07/10 Link: Myspace Buy: Amazon A good album cover can be essential for a band – it’s the opening gambit, the first thing the listener will see of the band, it’s supposed to tell you what the band is all about. The Clash’s London Calling told us that they were about taking popular music and twisting it into punk, Television’s Marquee Moon, with Tom Verlaine looking deathly thin showed us the darker side of stripped down post punk, the Manic Street Preacher’s seminal Generation Terrorists with its deliberately over coloured and orange body with the tattoo told us that this was something new, something with real passion. Hell, even Rumours by Fleetwood Mac told us of its complexity and intricacies, along with its air of the unexplained. Now there is no way that I could dismiss Miyagi’s Electrosaurus cover without pondering its artistic merits – is it a Dadaist statement deliberately placed to say exactly nothing about the content? Ceci n’est pas une serious album? Or is it made in the same vein as Jorn and Debord’s book ‘Memoires’, famed for its sandpaper cover, setting itself out deliberately to be a commercial failure? Or is it just mucking about? Because it hides what is a semi decent album in its grotesque cover, an album that deserves more than the cover gives it. The sound itself that Miyagi have crafted is not too dissimilar to the aforementioned Fleetwood Mac at times, drifting from there through 60s and 70s pop, through folk rock (‘Tomorrow’ sounds like an unreleased Broken Family Band track), through innumerable other influences resulting in a very original, if not perfected sound. The music can move between 60’s style psychadelia pop (‘Be Cool Stay Cool’, ‘Little Pink Dress’) to catchy harmony lead tunes (‘Sheep’) trumpet blurting danceable tunes (‘Cold’) into balladic pop (‘Turn’) [see: slow Elvis Costello]and through any number between. The album itself pushes its way to almost 50 minutes, though it shouldn’t in all honesty. There are tracks here that are week – 'Turn’, ‘Sorrow’ and ‘Roman Nose’ all feel superfluous for a start, in my opinion they don’t add anything. Another problem is that some of these tracks simply don’t know how or when to end – ‘Sheep’ for example, builds up a massive crescendo that sounds like a good, climactic ending before returning for the second half of the song, ‘Alaska’ ends up as a jam session – a good jam session, but not needed and it tests the patience, ‘Then I Get That Feeling’ finishes twice before the end. I think it’s a symptom of having too little refinement – the crescendo of ‘Little Pink Dress’ is ridiculous and stupid, but somehow it works after repeat listens, the trumpet solo and the layers of sound that slowly build up work beautifully, against all sense. It’s moments like this that show off Miyagi’s real talent. They’ve got talent for writing hooks and catchy tunes, they’ve certainly got instrumental talent and they’ve got songwriting talent hidden in there too. It’s when they can tap into the latter, as they do in ‘Little Pink Dress’ and ‘Faithful Retainer’ (7 and a half minutes of genius, seriously), that we get really good songs. Instead of getting a refined album, we get an album that needs editing and more time to grow and evolve, an album recorded before it was ready. Not bad, but not great either, despite some excellent moments. Photobucket