|Review by Stewart Smith of The Only Stars 7" in Beard Magazine.|
It's been too long since we last heard from National Park. Never the most prolific bands, they've preferred to maintain an air of mystery, releasing the occasional single and playing the occasionl gig, most memorably on the roof of the old John Smith's book store in Byre's Road.
While his sidekicks Simon Shaw and Michael McGaughrin have gone on to make their own music with Lucky Luke and 1990s, head Park-keeper John Hogarty has been keeping a lower profile, storing up two albums worth of material (oh boy!). The first glimpse of this comes with The Only Stars, a dreamy piece of out-pop. A hypnotic tom rhythm and droney chord progression underpin a psychedelic smear of gauzy guitars, minimalist piano (courtesy of the great Bill Wells) and woozy flute and horn (Sarah Martin and Mick Cooke of Belle & Sebastian take a bow). Hogarty sings softly, the melody recalling Teenage Fanclub at their most reflective, before a more visceral, yet melodic, guitar break emerges from the haze. Far from ruining the song's atmosphere, it reveals the darkness lurking beneath the beauty.
A most welcome return.