[28 August 2005]
The sparse, beautiful music of Isle of Wight band Motion Pictures is due for a Volkswagen commercial. Their self-titled debut album, though not likely to make a splash on radio or earn headlines in the snarky British music press, has a certain quiet, appealing beauty that makes it a shoe-in for wild-card popularity. It is the kind of music you hear, perhaps in a hip store or in the background at someone’s dinner party. At first you don’t notice it, but after a while you have to sit back and ask, “What is this?”
Motion Pictures offer a soft, psychedelic brand of folk-pop not too common among today’s new wave-obsessed indie rockers. A press release for the band describes the minor-key harmony pop of first single “My Queen, Your Dream” as what would have happened if “The Stone Roses spent their five year hiatus sitting on beaches drinking red wine with the Mamas and the Papas”. This is accurate, and it is this small touch of Mamas and Papas-esque ‘60s rock that makes the sound of Motion Pictures interesting. They are making no attempt to be retro, though their influences sneak in.
“My Queen, Your Dream” fades into one of the one of the most beautiful pop songs I’ve heard in a long time, “Moomer Fus 3”. Singer Tom Gardner sings, “I just like the way it is, I don’t want it to change”, and it’s so sweet and simple that it fits onto the play list of so many cool summer nights. Motion Pictures are at their best in this vein of simple, soft pop. Other highlights like “Unforeseen Prophecy”, the darkly uplifting “Maybe Another Time”, and the lovely “Time For A Smile” have been a perfect musical backdrop for me as the summer draws to a close. This is sit-out-on-the-porch music. This is come-home-and-lie-down-in-the-dark music.
Without the hype of your typical young New York band, or the tabloid fodder of your typical young London band, Motion Pictures are quiet people from a quiet place. They make soft, pretty, quiet music, but sometimes that is what resonates most deeply. If this band were given grand exposure, would most people fall in love with them? You can bet on it.