Schoozzzmmii isn't an album of new material. Lone Pigeon didn't write any new songs for this release, but rather recorded a bunch of songs from the same time period as his last release, 2002's Concubine Rice. Mr. Lone Pigeon, Gordon Anderson, is currently working with Badly Drawn Boy's producer, Joe Robinson, on a new album. Schoozzzmmii, then, serves as a preview and appetite-whetter for this upcoming release. And it's quite the preview. With 16 tracks and only 40 minutes of music, Schoozzzmmii (I really like saying that) is packed with minute-and-a-half folk ditties and psychedelic meanderings, along with several longer works of both sonic and lyrical beauty.
But first, who is this Long Pigeon bloke? Know the Beta Band? The Scottish quartet is all about the trip-hoppy, hippie chill-out music that'll diffuse any potentially tense situation after only a few minutes of listening to a track like "Dry the Rain". Anyway, the band's co-founder and co-writer, Gordon Anderson, never really got to take part in the Beta Band's success because he had to return to Scotland for health reasons. So, a few years back, he started doing his own thing and dubbed himself Lone Pigeon. (The Beta Band's original name was the Pigeons.) In 2001, Lone Pigeon released the Touched by Tomoko EP and in 2002, Concubine Rice on Domino Records. Both albums garnered substantial critical acclaim, and so too, will Schoozzzmmii.
Anderson writes in an ancient style. His roots in the folk tradition could put some of his songs back with the early ballads of Scotland. Mostly, though, Lone Pigeon presents a collection of sophisticated and sad songs using '60s-era songwriting. The first track -- of course none of them have names -- is a slow-paced rambler that jangles with Byrds-like harmonies and guitar timbre reminiscent of Santana.
Track two ambles along with a "Doo-be-doo-wa" chorus over a plodding bell-like beat. The synthesizer work is gorgeous, though, and lends the tune an ethereal haze. On the third track, Anderson sounds like he's singing in some echoing chamber, a barn perhaps, since the only lyrics in the song are "Hey now, Mr. Brown Cow / Won't you come home?" However, it's the song's simplicity that makes it so starkly beautiful.
Track seven is a serious time warp song. From Anderson's harmonies to the fuzzy keyboards, this track is all Mamas and Papas -- minus the female voices -- the Mamas if you will. The similarities are striking, but at the same time, ground Lone Pigeon in a classically celebrated songwriting tradition.
The amount of soul on the ninth track distinguishes it from the rest of the album. It tells the story of a man looking for himself as well as some greater meaning in a bleak and tragic world. Depressing? Yes. Haunting? Absolutely. Anderson's songwriting definitely possesses a world-weary outlook. He's melancholy and tired, and extraordinarily skilled at illustrating that.
Tracks 12 and 13 immediately remind me of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine -- 12 because of the beat and piano playing, as well as the various toots and whistles. The vocals even imitate Lennon's slightly nasal inflection. Track 13 is very reminiscent of the Beatles during their sitar experimentation days. Both tracks are under two minutes long, but they let the listener know how much Anderson respects his influences.
The last track also seems inspired by the Beatles, with its use of different percussion instruments as well its happy-go-lucky rhythm. Add in some random vocal tracks of a few Brits saying, "It's a magic mouse. He's got a very big house", as well as absurd and hysterical laughter and you've got a plucky, albeit frightening, Beatles tune.
Lone Pigeon shows remarkable variation in both composition and songwriting on Schoozzzmmii. His influences are obvious, but who better to imitate than some of the greatest writers of the '60s? Gordon Anderson may have had to leave the Beta Band and watch them gain success and fame without him, but in the meantime, he has created three albums of simple pop/folk brilliance.