Euros Childs The Miracle Inn

[Wichita; 2007]

Styles: pop, folk
Others: Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Paul McCartney, Nick Drake

Euros Childs has a lot to be nostalgic about. As a lad of 16, he found himself enjoying moderate success fronting early ’90s Welsh folk-pop ensemble Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, making dreamy psychedelia and indie-pop with Gorky’s until their 2006 break-up and continuing on as a solo artist. But with the release of his third album, The Miracle Inn, it seems Childs still longs for the days when love was new and his band was forever.

The album is an interesting turn for the singer-songwriter, who, given the relative success of 2006’s Chops and the Welsh-language Bore Da, has decidedly departed from the Supergrass-esque alt-rock he’s established himself with. Instead, The Miracle Inn is an amalgam of summery images and youthful memories, with major-key melodies paving the way for pretty girls, red dresses, and horseback rides. Unfortunately, such straight, feel-good tunes do little to underscore Childs’ smooth, choir-boy voice; rather, the combination often results in what sounds like a commercialized, soulless Stuart Murdoch. The first three tracks are cheesy and uncreative “grooves” (as Childs would no doubt call them) quivering with vocal embellishments that tread a little too close to Mariah Carey territory. It’s not that Childs shouldn’t use classic pop structures or nostalgic lyrics, he just needs to command them in a way that keeps the listener from getting bored.

It’s only when Childs returns to his acoustic Gorky’s roots that we hear an artist who is more than a caricature of ’70s feel-good pop. “Hard Times Wondering” is a moody modal piece in which he sighs, "And all the boys/ They all sing your melody/ When all I want to do to/ Is wake up next to you." Such sparse acoustic numbers leave breathing room for musical emotion and weight, and supplement rather than depersonalize the softness of his voice. Closer “Go Back Soon” is perhaps the perfect example of this, a sleepy resignation of memories that provides an ideal single-song soundtrack for a long drive alone. When at his best, Childs maintains his integrity as a solo artist without abandoning the talents that first brought him into the spotlight.

However, just as you consider letting him under your skin, you encounter the clumsily-placed 15-minute suite that is the title track. Though intended to immortalize a favorite teenage hang-out, the six parts of the song do not flow together, nor do they complement each other. Rather than serve as the climax of daydreams, “The Miracle Inn” appears to be little more than a regurgitation of the first half of the album, with Childs returning to pop choruses and musical odes to the Inn’s resident bar band . As the suite slows down, we hear Childs yet again realize the inevitability of the future and the distance from his past. But, unfortunately, as the singer lingers, the listener is only too eager to move on.

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