Marsicans – Ursa Major
Leeds quartet Marsicans have been making music since 2014, but Ursa Major is their first full-length album, released under Killing Moon Records. This year the band have been getting attention across the music press. They were named in the Guardian’s 50 New Artists to Watch in 2020 and have appeared on Radio 1 and Radio X’s playlists. They have even garnered an endorsement from professional hardman-whisperer Ross Kemp, who displays a hitherto unnoticed vocal tic of sometimes slipping into a broad Leeds accent in his promotional video for them (disclaimer: this may be fake news). This advert shows some inventiveness and an endearing sense of humour; with drummer Matthew “Cale” McHale creeping out of some bushes and bass/keyboard player Rob Brander explaining how he used “to sell replica football shirts for a living”. Lead singer James Newbigging shows ingenuity and clearly has an eye on the stars.
The album is named after the big bear constellation and, with a band name that references Mars, you might expect a cosmic-leaning record, maybe full of psychedelia and spirituality. However, this is much more of an indie-pop offering, with a slick sound. The tunes are smooth enough that they don’t all snag a hook into the memory. The four-piece follow quite tried-and-tested lines and the slickness borders on the formulaic at times. They’re clearly reaching for arena-filling indie with a sound reminiscent of Two Door Cinema Club and Foals.
There are some glimpses of real beauty on Someone Else’s Touch, with its interlude of reflective melancholy amidst the otherwise upbeat proceedings. Oliver Jameson’s spacey, mournful guitar chords and Newbigging’s introspective lyrics are the highlight of the album. Can I Stay Here Forever (pt.II) has some lovely colourful guitar licks, while Summery in Angus is a breezily catchy number.
There is artistry in creating music built for the radio, and you root for these endearing guys, but the music industry is so saturated it might be hard for them to jostle their own space.
Image: Jake Haseldine
Ursa Major is released on 14th August 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Marsicans’ website here.
Watch the video for Someone Else’s Touch here: