When the long-list for 2012s Scottish Album Of The Year was announced, this celebration of Scottish music, demonstrated just how eclectic the music Scotland’s musicians have been producing. The twenty albums featured everything from indie rock, pop, electronica, folk, jazz, dance and R&B. One album incorporated not just variety of these genres but much, much more. This album was Miaoux Miaoux’s debut album Light Of The North. Released on Glasgow’s Chemikal Underground label in July 2012, Light Of The North was hailed as one of the albums of the summer. In their desperation to categorize Light Of The North, critics described it as “indie dance pop.” There’s much more to Miaoux Miaoux’s music on Light Of The North. Indie dance pop is merely scratching the surface of the music Light Of The North. The best way to describe Miaoux Miaoux’s music is genre-sprawling. You’ll realize that, when I tell you about the music on Light Of The North. 

Before producer Julian Corrie decided to make a career out of music, he lead an interesting life to say the least. He lead something of a nomadic existence. Heading off on his travels, Julian eventually settled in Peru, where he spent five years. From the exotic climes of Peru, next stop for Julian was England. After moving between towns and cities, Julian moved to Glasgow, where his musical career began.

Having settled in Glasgow, Julian’s musical career began in 2010. He dawned the guise of Miaoux Miaoux. It didn’t take long before people realized Julian was a talented producer and remixer. His first release as Miaoux Miaoux was the critically acclaimed Blooms E.P, which Julian released himself. With the publicity generated by the Blooms E.P, Miaoux Miaoux were suddenly playing at concerts all over Scotland. Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Rock Ness Festival were introduced to the delights of Miaoux Miaoux. 

Suddenly, Miaoux Miaoux were establishing a reputation as one of Scotland’s up-and-coming bands. Later in 2010, Miaoux Miaoux released their Knitted E.P. Not only did it feature three innovative tracks, but featured a memorable hand knitted CD cover. In November 2010, Miaoux Miaoux were one of four groups who contributed a track for the Split E.P, which was released on Gerry Loves Records. Along with the two E.P.s Miaoux Miaoux released during 2010, Julian Corrie was establishing a career as a talented remixer. 

Remixing was another string to Miaoux Miaoux’s musical bow. This second career saw Miaoux Miaoux tranform tracks by Silver Column, Discopolis and Chvrches. Soon, Miaoux Miaoux had gained the reputation as Glasgow’s go-to-guy for anyone looking for an innovative remix. However, all this was just working towards Miaoux Miaoux’s debut album.

Released in July 2012, Miaoux Miaoux’s debut album Light Of The World received plaudits and praise aplenty. Critically acclaimed and hailed as one of the album of the summer, Light Of The World was described as indie dance pop. That’s an understatement. It’s a genre-sprawling album where indie rock, pop, dance, electronica, synth pop, dream pop and much, much more. You’ll realize that, when I tell you about Miaoux Miaoux’s debut album Light Of The North. 

Light Of The North opens with Sweep Clean, where dramatic washes of synths sweep in. Veering between a broody drone and an elegant orchestral sound, it builds to a crescendo. Then hesitant, jittery and excited drum ‘n’ bass style drums break loose. They’re joined by buzzing synths and a heartfelt vocal that’s reminiscent of Paddy McAloon of Prefab Sprout. Soon, the arrangement is heading in the direction of indie rock and pop, albeit with a touch of electronica. Crystalline guitars, swathes of synths and driving, pounding drums combine as drama, energy and poppy hooks seamlessly become one. 

Autopilot sees the tempo drop, and an atmospheric, electronic arrangement unfold. Drums crack, melodic synths meander and then buzzing eighties synths usher in Julian’s tender vocal. By now, you’re struck by the similarities to New Order in their prime. It’s almost uncanny. Especially when the harmonies accompany Julian’s vocal. However, this isn’t a New Order tribute band. Far from it. Instead, Miaoux Miaoux add their own unique twist to this sound. Synths and a wall of guitars provide a dreamy backdrop, as the anthemic chant: “you can think for yourself emerges.” It becomes almost like a mantra, albeit one that’s a hook-laden, slice of musical sunshine that’s a fusion indie rock, dream-pop, electronica, synth pop and dance music.

Hey Sound has a dreamy, spacey sound as washes of synths and drums combine to produce a hypnotic groove. Reminiscent of trance music, bursts of harmonies emerge from the arrangement. They’re sung call and response style, as you embark upon a musical journey. It’s one that’s truly captivating and irresistible, and will bring back memories of dancing till dawn in crowded warehouses.

As Better For Now begins, you realize that it’s impossible to categorize Miaoux Miaoux’s music, given how eclectic the music on Light Of The North Is. You also realize this is a truly irresistible and anthemic track. Dance-floor and radio friendly, indie-rock and the dance music are combined. Instantly, your faith in music is restored. It’s impossible to be won over by this track. With the rhythm section providing the track’s heartbeat, buzzing synths and melodic keyboards provide the backdrop for Julian’s vocal Spurred on, he delivers one of his best vocals on the best track on Light Of The North.

Kraftwerk. That’s what I thought when Cloud Computer began to reveal its secrets. With its sci-fi sound that come courtesy of washes of synths and pounding drums, it’s like Chicago House meets Autobahn. They’re joined by sound effects that remind me of eighties video games. Soon, it’s all change again. A wall of guitars makes a fleeting appearance before it’s back to the captivating combination ofChicago House meets Kraftwerk, albeit with chiming guitars that give the track a melodic sound. Again, this reinforces the eclectic nature of Miaoux Miaoux’s music and proves that you should never second guess Julian Corrie.

Is It A Dream is an elegant, ethereal soundscape that sweeps in. Atop the wash of synths sits Anna Miles vocal. Then just as you were wallowing in the track’s beauty, the arrangement fills out. That’s when a few curveballs are thrown. Am almost disturbing, droning noise appears. It’s almost as it’s meant to challenge you. However, given the quality of the music, you just ignore it. Meandering keyboards and deliberate synths play their part, before the tempo is increased and Anna’s vocal becomes high pitched. You begin to think Julian’s toying with you. Even when he adds echo to her vocal, the track’s innate beauty shine through.

Virtua Fighter is an enigmatic track, that has many secrets and surprises to reveal. At the start, a real eighties sound emerges. For some reason, I’m reminded briefly reminded of a track from an old Stranglers album. Then when sweet harmonies sweep in, it’s all change. The track has a real poppy sound. Behind them, an edgy, rap from MC Profisee emerges out of the shadows. It transforms the track and proves to be a game-changer. MC Profisee’s performance steals the show as everything from eighties electronica, hip hop and pop are thrown into Miaoux Miaoux’s musical melting pot and given a stir.

Just a chiming guitar and drums accompany Julian’s tender, pensive vocal on Stop The Clocks. The understated arrangement is perfect, allowing you to listen to some of the best lyrics on Light Of The North. Soon, it’s all change. Gone is the vocal, replaced by an arrangement that gradually grows. Again, there’s a Kraftwerk influence. You’re propelled atop an arrangement where washes of synths and drums play leading roles. Later, the arrangement grows to a disturbing, dramatic and captivating crescendo.

Singing In The Dark has a dark, moody sound thanks to the thunderous drums and buzzing synths. When Julian’s vocal enters, it’s heartfelt and accompanied by banks of distant meandering synths. Key to the song’s success are the lyrics, which have a strong narrative. Julian’s delivery is emotive, while the arrangement grows in power. Hissing hi-hats, claps of drums and keyboards combine, before later, filters strip out everything but the vocal. As Julian scats, the arrangement builds up, and another anthemic, catchy unfolds.

Closing Light Of The North is Ribbon Falls. It’s the perfect track to close the album. The understated arrangement gradually builds and builds, as Miaoux Miaoux have settled into a groove. Julian’s vocal is accompanied by stabs of synths and keyboards. You know that the understated arrangement is about explode. It’s just a case of when. When it eventually happens, Miaoux Miaoux examine every nuance and subtlety of the groove. The arrangement grows in power and drama. Guitars are unleashed while banks of keyboard and synths are at the heart of the action, before the track, and Light Of The North, reach a dramatic and explosive climax.

Earlier, I said that describing Light Of The North as an indie dance pop album was an understatement. There’s much more to Light Of The North than that. It’s a much more complicated and sophisticated album. Instead, many musical genres are thrown into Miaoux Miaoux’s musical melting pot and given a stir. There’s everything from indie rock, pop, dance, electronica, synth pop, dream pop, drum ‘n’n bass, trance, hip hop and ambient music. Among the musical influences that shine through are Kraftwerk, New Order, Mogwai, Prefab Sprout and Chicago House. Layer upon layer of complex music unfold. That music is variously dramatic, melodic, hook-laden, poppy, captivating, anthemic and much more. Subtleties, surprises and nuance await discovery. Trying to second guess Miaoux Miaoux isn’t possible. Similarly, a bag full of curveballs are delivered by Miaoux Miaoux on Light Of The North. A track might head in one direction, but be transformed into something very different. That’s what makes Light Of The North such an enthralling and captivating album. It’s also why Miaoux Miaoux’s debut album Light Of The North is deserving of its place on the long-list for the 2012 Scottish Album Of The Year. 

Critically acclaimed, innovative, genre-sprawling and lauded as one of the albums of the summer 2012, Miaoux Miaoux’s Light Of The North is one of the best debut albums I’ve heard in recent years. It’ll be fascinating to hear what Miaoux Miaoux’s sophomore album will be like? Will it be as eclectic, hook-laden, anthemic and captivating as Light Of The North? Let’s hope so. Standout Tracks: Autopilot, Hey Sound, Better For Now and Stop The Clocks.


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