The story goes that Elia Einhorn, songwriter and frontman for Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, got his start singing Belle & Sebastian covers—and it's no surprise when you hear songs like "Everything You Paid For" or "Pins and Needles." There's a mopey sweetness evident on Scotland Yard Gospel Choir's second, self-titled album, out now on Bloodshot Records.
From "Then and Not a Moment Before" to folksier songs like "Obsessions," Scotland Yard Gospel Choir's seemingly sweet, bouncy pop songs come with a strong dash of melancholy and bitterness and dry humor, a self-aware cynical hint that they know how futile and silly it is to write songs about heartbreak, but knowledge be damned—they're doing it anyway. And, of course, songs like "Broken Front Teeth" betray a sweeter side and more optimistic tone. It's not a new formula by any stretch of the imagination, but SYGC nail it with such precision, subtlety, and humor, that in their hands it feels fresh, even exciting.
It'll be interesting to see how a band this size does in a venue like Mississippi Studios, a place typically suited to more stripped-down solo or duo performances. As tricky as it may seem to cram so many players (typically seven) into the Mississippi space, shows here hinge on the intimacy of the setting, and Scotland Yard Gospel Choir bring an immediacy to their shows that makes them feel intimate by design. It's cheesy, I know, but when a band can engage their audience and top it off with a successful sing-along, as SYGC often do, it puts us all momentarily on the same team; we are all happy, or all sad, or all newly dumped or newly in love. Scotland Yard Gospel Choir bring the same subtlety and humor to their shows as they do to their records, and while they will certainly be among the liveliest bands Mississippi Studios sees this year, they'll also be among the most fun.