Mancunian Candidate – Mancunian Candidate (Pancake Repairs Music, 2017)
Mancunian Candidate is the new project of British-born, San Francisco-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Matthew Swindells. He was the drummer and vocalist with much-admired American progressive rock band Moth Vellum. Swindells was also lead vocalist for Matt Bissonette’s Raising Lazarus project and live tour drummer for celebrated English electronic music act Fila Brazillia.
The album Mancunian Candidate has a relatively short song format. The first half of the album sounds as if pop band The Police had gone progressive. The vocal style and part of the song structures are definitely closer to pop, but the arrangements and instrumental sections are totally different. In those parts, Mancunian Candidate delivers highly-skilled, masterfully crafted and climactic symphonic progressive rock, inspired by the great masters like Genesis and Yes.
One of the highlights of the album is track 5, “AnikusDominuscrappedonfactor” that has a progressive rock-era Yes flavor with notable drumming, keyboards, bass and guitar.
Another high point is “Circle lies Unbroken,” where Mancunian Candidate opens with a fabulous Mahavishnu Orchestra-style intro. It’s great to hear jazz-rock fusion added to the mix. Overall, one of the most “progressive” pieces in the album.
Other highlights include “The Air Has Changed” and the climactic “Fanfare for the Dammed,” where Matthew Swindells uses vocals that lean heavily towards progressive rock instead of pop. There is even a fabulous church organ section that recalls Rick Wakeman’s masterful work.
The last song is another goodie. It’s a progressive rock reprise of “Garden Party” with wonderful mellotron and an outstanding guitar solo.
The remarkable lineup includes Matthew Swindells on drums, vocals, keyboards and acoustic guitars; Matthew Charles Heulitt on electric guitar; Johnny Heyes on guitar; Andy Shepley on bass; Neil Fairclough on bass; Ollie Collins on bass; Jon Evans on bass; Matt Bissonette on bass; and Jasper Wilkisnson on mandolin.
Mancunian Candidate is an impressive recording that straddles pop and progressive rock and I look forward to listening to more of the progressive side of Matthew Swindells.
The album is available from MancunianCandidateMusic.com.