366 Songs 037: Disappointment

The idea that people could complain that David McAlmont’s vocals during any of the McAlmont and Butler songs were too over the top is one that I’ve always found amusing. Sure, he swoops and soars and chews the aural scenery as much as humanly possible – although at no point does he do the thing that American Idol contestants love so much, when notes stretch to include multiple ups and downs to show off just how well they know their scales; clearly, he’s a show-off in an entirely different way – but listen to what he’s competing with; Bernard Butler was the one in charge during the McAlmont and Butler sessions (The first album, The Sound of…, at least), with the tracks doing their best to become his attempt to fulfill the old Brian Wilson saying about pop songs being teenage symphonies to God; listen to “Disappointment” and try to argue that McAlmont’s vocal isn’t just icing on a cake that doesn’t even necessarily need it – something, of course, that Butler helps to convey with his 90 second instrumental freak-out in the middle of the song, which may be the most interesting point of the proceedings, before McAlmont comes back to chant “Disappointment,” his voice becoming just another instrument in Butler’s grand experiment, as everything seems to build towards something that has always felt like a George Harrison guitar solo that the Beatles forgot to include somewhere at 7:07 (Yes, the track is more than seven minutes long; I’d argue that the “song” portion is actually closer to three minutes, and the rest is Butler going crazy with sound). It’s epic, and overblown, and more than a little self-indulgent, but also completely and utterly Bernard Butler’s creation. Let David McAlmont sing as wildly and as openly as he wants; he’s always going to lose when he’s surrounded by music like the stuff on show here.