Neil Halstead - Oh! Mighty Engine

Jorge Costa 28/09/2008

Rating: 2.5/5

Things have been quiet on the Neil Halstead front of late what with it being well over a decade since his Slowdive days and the last Mojave 3 album having been out for over two years already. Seems he has been slightly busy, however, putting together his first solo album since his 2002 debut 'Sleeping on Road', but having spun 'Oh! Mighty Engine' a few times now, it is probably fare to say that things are still very quiet on the Neil Halstead front.

Composed of twelve acoustic tracks, 'Engine' is as laid back as nearly everything else on Jack Johnson's Bushfire Records label with Halstead's sighs and folksy mumblings hardly daring to disturb the air around the speakers. Occasionally there's a pulse, such as on the breezy highlight 'Queen Bee', but the album wallows for far too long in 'Five Leaves Left' territory and while it may be inoffensive, those droning guitars can get rather bland and wearisome.

Still, it is inoffensive and tracks like 'No Mercy For The Muse' and 'Baby, I Grew You A Beard' (“Cos I know you love a man whose follicles are growing just for you”) show that Halstead is a poet with a sense of humour. 'Oh! Mighty Engine' may just hum along with all the ferocity of a hatchback for three quarters of an hour, but you could probably find a use for it during dusky summer evenings. Just don't expect it to be anything other than midly distracting.