Our Daily Bread 446: Rezo ‘Travalog’

May 14, 2021

ALBUM REVIEW/Dominic Valvona

Rezo ‘Travalog’
17th May 2021

Few albums to emerge from these unprecedented pandemic-eclipsed times have yet managed to quite articulate the draining emotional fatigue of lockdown, yet also dares to hope for a bright release of humility in the slow emergence from it as the Irish duo of Colm O’Connell and Rory McDaid. For The Mitcheners band mates have accomplished something very special indeed on their debut album of gently unfurled travails and blissful sentiment; composing a warm, welcoming songbook unafraid of a beautiful melody, even when translating the restrictive and debilitating symptoms (and metaphors) of Covid-19.

Travalog is an album that travels well and far despite being created in isolation, a thousand or more miles apart, swings between American troubadour and country influences, the new wave (both British and German), folk, indie and what can only be described as Spanish acoustic guitar led electronica Ibiza: A mix in fact of both real instruments and the computerized, delivered with an analogue feel.

This seamless transition and balance between the softened, eloquent and hushed sung Sparklehorse and CSN&Y lit ‘Rezo’ and the Der Plan meets Moroder in Magaluf sunnier dispositional ‘Route 1’ is in part down to the musical partners lockdown separation; with O’Connell working from his home studio in Dublin and McDaid from his studio in Malaga – not to be disingenuous to Ireland and its temperate damp climate, but McDaid may have had the luck of the draw in that department.

Like musical chameleons on this virtual travelogue, they adopt a meander of Damon Albarn, Baxter Dury, Blue House and a sedated Warren Zevon when pining for a more “ordinary” life after the pandemic on the semi-wistful ‘Life During Lockdown’; Paul McCartney, XTC and Mark Hollis on the breathless themed ‘Loner’; and a nice hazy acid wash of New Order, Jason Pierce and Stereolab on the touching, and utterly gorgeous lulled tribute to Margate’s greatest but most abused export, Tracy Emin (‘Girl From Margate’): a seaside town backdrop yearn prompted by Alan Yentob’s candid TV interview come documentary on the YBA star’s infamous career; a projection that took her from Kent to global success. It’s possibly the album’s most heartbreaking ditty too; prescient in light of Emin’s near terminal cancer diagnosis in 2020, the chances of survival so slim that doctors didn’t believe she’d make it past Christmas. Fortunately now in remission, Emin has not only defied that diagnosis but will also make it to her new show at the Royal Academy this summer.

An album of poignancy (never laid on thickly mind) there’s even a lullaby-like, softly pitter-patter rhythmic song about O’Connell’s daughter Rosa to bring us all full circle, back to family and that joy of parenthood: a safe haven focus in the midst of a despairing, raging plague. 

Travalog is almost like two albums in one; with a penchant for Joe Jackson bassline new wave, soft rock and transformed country sophistication on one hand, and something akin to the Beloved and soulful electro indie on the other. It works well, and suddenly changes the mood and direction when it makes that change, more or less, halfway through the album. A highly mature production with a certain analogue warmth, and yes a certain air of pleasant nostalgia, the duo’s debut musical map of life in extreme times is a real achievement; a triumph of great melody, feel, and above all songwriting. It would be a travesty if it didn’t make the best albums of the year: it will certainly be heading towards mine.

Hi, my name is Dominic Valvona and I’m the Founder of the music/culture blog monolithcocktail.com For the last ten years I’ve featured and supported music, musicians and labels we love across genres from around the world that we think you’ll want to know about. No content on the site is paid for or sponsored and we only feature artists we have genuine respect for /love. If you enjoy our reviews (and we often write long, thoughtful ones), found a new artist you admire or if we have featured you or artists you represent and would like to buy us a coffee at https://ko-fi.com/monolithcocktail to say cheers for spreading the word, then that would be much appreciated.

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