Album Review: Mt. Doubt – Doubtlands

Before a recent trip to the North of Scotland with my dad, I was assigned the task of deciding what music we would listen to during the drive from Glasgow to Oban. Normally I love curating a playlist but when it comes to music, my dad has very specific taste. If it’s not Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, The Clash or BBC Radio 3, he most likely will not be interested.

My options to fill a two and a half hour playlist were limited, so I decided to play safe and queue a selection tracks from Moondance, Blood on the Tracks and London Calling. Half an hour into the journey, I realised that my choices weren’t quite fitting the atmosphere. I decided that we needed music that reflected our stunning surroundings as we drove the length of Loch Lomond. Who better to provide this than Scotland’s own Mt. Doubt?

I queued Headless, Caravans on a Hill and Dark Slopes Away – the three tracks that Mt. Doubt have gifted us in the run up to their third studio album Doubtlands, which is set for release on the 18th of September. I couldn’t have picked a better choice to compliment the serenity of the Loch and the happiness that we felt in escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, even if just for a day. Now, each track within Doubtlands take me back to the peace and calm of that day where I had the freedom to observe the beauty of the Scottish scenery and reflect upon the events of the last few months.

In a recent interview with The Music Files, Leo Bargery (musician, lyricist and vocalist) told us that the album ‘encapsulates that post-University adult wilderness’, explaining that ‘Doubtlands as a concept loosely seeks to give some sort of physical parameters to that sense of wilderness and panic.’ This sense of ‘wilderness’ that Bargery makes reference to is shown primarily through the album’s atmospheric and rich sound, however the ‘panic’ is depicted through his intimate and poignant lyrics, which create a strong feeling of nostalgia in the listener.

The album commences with 68th in Orbit – an indie-rock track featuring booming percussion and prominent acoustic guitar, which brings an element of folk to the song. We are introduced to Bargery’s brooding, Nick Cave-esque vocals and we witness Mt. Doubt’s ability to reach an impactful, yet structured, crescendo. Close listeners will also hear Annie Booth’s vocals drifting in the background, however her haunting harmonies are more distinct in tracks such as Caravans on a Hill, Stairwell Songs and, of course, in Bargery and Booth’s duet Murmurations.

The swaying percussion and shimmers of delicate guitar featured in Yawn When I Do reflect the song’s title by resembling a calm lullaby. The music almost forces us into a dream-like state, however, Bargery’s lyrics do not promote a feeling of calm and serenity. He describes his relationship with a girl who fails to yawn at the same time as him – those clued up on psychopathic traits will surely understand what this implies. Mt. Doubt’s ability to combine beautifully capitating music  with such ominous lyrics makes Yawn When I Do reminiscent of work by The Cure, Mogwai or Joy Division.

In Waiting Rooms, we witness Bargery channelling Tom Waits through a fusion of blues and jazz- style vocals and piano chords which travel alongside smooth electric guitar. Bargery opens the track by stating ‘I have weird thoughts/ I sometimes wonder if their mine’ and as the track continues, we witness him completely letting go of any inhibitions. He provides us with an insight into the impact that these thoughts have upon him through raw vocals which are overcome by emotion.

In Eshaness, we are given the opportunity to immerse ourselves in Mt. Doubt’s signature expansive sound, which compliments the rugged and natural landscape which Bargery describes in his lyrics. If we close our eyes whilst listening to the song, it is easy to imagine that we that we are ‘teetering’ on the edge of the cliff which holds Eshaness Lighthouse, with the song’s percussion mirroring the violence of the sea below.

In a world where it seems that chaos and fear reign, Mt. Doubt encourage us to find peace by focusing upon our innermost thoughts and feelings and reflecting on our life experiences, both positive and negative. Bargery’s ability to do exactly this is what makes Doubtlands such an inspiring piece of work.

On the trip back from Oban to Glasgow, my dad told me to ‘stick on that band we were listening to on the way up’ – his discreet way of telling me that he had enjoyed what he had heard. My attempt to throw him headfirst into the twenty-first century had been a success, all thanks to the sublime Mt. Doubt.

It just so happens to be my dad’s birthday next week so I think I will be heading over to Last Night From Glasgow’s online store to order a copy of the magnificent Doubtlands so that he can update his music collection for the first time since 1982.

Keep up with Mt. Doubt through their socials:

Facebook – @MtDoubt

Twitter – @MtDoubt

Instagram – @mt.doubt

Published by orla_brady

I write things about music for The Music Files Blog and isthismusic? Always open to review new bands/artists wherever you're from and whatever you do. I also write articles for The Glasgow Guardian and The Indiependent and dabble in creative fiction writing.

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