Morcheeba are like a hug. Warm, comforting, and sometimes nothing else will do.
Formed in London in 1995 when brothers Paul and Ross Godfrey met with singer Skye Edwards, their first, low key, release was the single Trigger Hippie. This established the lazy beats and warm, languid tunes that characterise Morcheeba's sound.
The following year the album Who Can You Trust was released on China Records, packed full of more melancholic yet comforting spliff hop.
After Who Can You Trust, Skye and the brothers went into the studio and started to subtly reinvent Morcheeba. Of course they retained Skye's sultry vocals, as well as Ross's impassioned instrumentals and Paul's low slung beats and turntablism, but they had progressed. They were more confident, perhaps a little less depressed, but still committed to creating some great music. In 1998 they released the product of this work. Big Calm is their most accomplished album. A searing, sexy, heartbreaking and heartwarming masterwork, it was a huge critical and commercial success for the band. It deserves to be more than dinner party music, but it had turned into 1998's Dummy. In my arrogant opinion, tracks from Big Calm like Blindfold, Over and Over and Fear and Love are some of the most touching, tragic and simply beautiful songs around. But that's just me.
I'm so glad to have you and i'm getting worse
I'm so mad to love you and your evil curse
From Blindfold. My favourite.
Coming not long after albums released by Massive Attack and Portishead, comparisons were inevitable, sharing as they do the same weed-soaked influences. Nevertheless, the style of Morcheeba is significantly different from their Bristolian contemporaries. Their tunes are purer, and the music in general is warmer and brighter, despite the intense melancholy that infuses much of the tracks.
In 2000, they released their third album: Fragments of Freedom. Disaster. They seemed to be careering towards the middle of the road, ready to crash into The Lighthouse Family at any point. OK, so Skye still sounds wonderful, and Paul and Ross are still great musicians, but now the music seems to lack passion. I think this was inadvertently explained by the band in an interview. Would you know it: they went and got happy. Yes, they'd all sorted their lives out, made a nice bit of cash from Big Calm, and started to settle down with their families. Good for them, but bad for us. It seems they need the pain and torment to create good music. Or maybe it is summed up on the best track on the album, Shallow End, where Skye sings:
I'm through with feeling deeply
lets dive into the shallow end