A Little Place in the Wilderness
･ Pop theatre, soon to be immortalized on video by Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket).
Memphis describe themselves as a South-meets-North duo. Torquil Campbell and Chris Dumont crossed paths in New York City, in an early incarnation of Stars. Guitarist Dumont stayed in NYC and Campbell's better-known band is now poised for further breakthroughs after Set Yourself on Fire, but Memphis allows Campbell and Dumont to fashion songs in a simpler setting.
A Little Place in the Wilderness was recorded in a metropolitan Vancouver hotel room, inviting the image of Memphis as a Brill Building songwriting team think Bacharach and David, or Goffin and King or their offspring, Squeeze, the Pet Shop Boys and Prefab Sprout. When Campbell inserts the Blue Nile song title "A Walk Across the Rooftops" into "A Little Place in the Wilderness," he announces Memphis's aspirations to listeners who regard the romantic Scots as songwriting geniuses. Similarly, naming the disc's first track, "I Dreamed We Fell Apart," after their 2004 album, implies a leap forward for Memphis.
Craftsmen craft, and A Little Place in the Wilderness often resembles a rehearsal for a soft-pop musical. "Incredibly Drunk on Whiskey" could drive a character-setting piece. "A Ghost Story" and "From the Highest Room" build on monologues Campbell is an actor whose credits include Law & Order and Sex and the City. "Swallows and Amazons" even offers an intermission and a nod to "Let's Go Away for a While" from Pet Sounds.
Memphis colour their songs with brass, violins and hazy electronica. M.V.P. Jon Hyde's pedal steel guitar garnishes the album. The closing song darts between tunesmithery and confession, compressing the objectives of A Little Place in the Wilderness into a show-stopping conclusion and the best analogy between shift work and isolation since "Daysleeper" by R.E.M.