Scotland’s loss has always been Wakefield’s gain, at least in the case of Mi Mye. We at Rhubarb Bomb may try and bring all of Scotland to Wakefield for a single weekend each Long Division, but this one came (and stayed) by choice. Perhaps this duality was the intention behind the beautiful vinyl artwork; one side the band on a local train, the reverse what I assume is the North Coast of Scotland where frontman Jamie’s parents live.
Possibly Mi Mye’s fourth album (depending on whether Christmas and Live albums count), it is quite probably their best, mixing familiar ideas with a fresh and re-energised approach.
This is likely down to the expanded and stable band that Jamie Lockhart has built around him. Featuring two members of The Spills, Morgan from Buen Chico and Emily who also moonlights in Crake, the record feels like a true band effort.
Witnessing this record grow has been an interesting experience; I recall what I believe was an early run-out of these songs in a shop on Wood Street. Mi Mye records seem, at least from the outside, a slow evolution of the material, and often the version that ends up on the record is different from that which i’ve become accustomed. “Sometimes Life’s Cool” from the album of the same name was a good example – compare the album version and the live version from Long Division 2013.
That is true here again, but perhaps the additional focus of Adam Killip and Lee Smith producing (at Greenmount Studios) has helped create what feels more of a human and natural record. Little moments of beauty are spread across the whole album, but aren’t studio trickery, they are just subtle movements of the focus of the track.
‘I Think Everything Is Going To Be Fine’ is a wonderfully fragile introduction, built around an excellent ambling beat. ‘Determan The Extent’ is equally fantastic with a lovely drop out to Morgan’s line on the keys. ‘Night City Air’ is a welcome loud-blast and ‘Night Swimming And The Snow’ is a fine ballad of Wakefield life. This album favourite for me is probably the title track, an expert sonic expression of what a ‘Sympathy Sigh’ may sound like, with gentle fiddle lines and backing vocals.
There aren’t too many bands I could place Mi Mye against. They could easily support King Creosote or Steve Mason, yet a show with The Cribs or Low would work just as well.
The Sympathy Sigh feels like an album resigned to happiness, and sits as part of a recent catalogue of Wakefield albums (both released and in production) that seem to both be the most perfect summations and personal of those bands careers. Yet their brilliance could easily soundtrack the final chapter of music in the city too. There is the air of a swansong.
I am sure that shan’t be the case with Mi Mye however. It feels like there are ideas, songs, thoughts and passion left to spare and this is just a hint of the new version of the band. Take a listen for yourself.