September 5, 2019 My Life Story – World Citizen (Album Review)
Formed in 1993, in London, England, My Life Story was among the late ’90s batch of Britpop-associated bands. Its music resides in the same sonic spectrum occupied by that of the likes of The Divine Comedy (“Through a Long and Sleepless Night”) and Belle and Sebastian (“If You Find Yourself Caught in Love”)—rooted in Indie Pop but often heavily orchestral.
My Life Story catapulted to commercial popularity with the strength of their brilliant and ornate singles “Sparkle,” “The King of Kissingdom,” and “12 Reasons Why I Love Her,” all of which entered the U.K. Singles Chart. The Chamber Orchestra–stylized collective released three full-lengths in their prime—1995’s Mornington Crescent, 1997’s The Golden Mile, and 2000’s less complex Joined Up Talking—and then they disbanded.
After a number of low-profile reunion gigs that started in the mid-2000s, My Life Story—still headed by singer-songwriter Jake Shillingford—returns properly with a new, full-length album. Titled World Citizen, it reclaims the band’s stylistic predisposition—grand, majestic, lush.
Scheduled for release on September 6, 2019, via Exilophone Records, World Citizen opens with the subtle and unassuming carrier single—the piano-led “No Filter.” This is then followed by the ultra-catchy and infectious, upbeat tracks “Taking On the World” and “Broken,” both of whose melodies and choruses will surely nestle in the auditory consciousness of the listener even long after the songs have stopped playing like ear candies. Next, “Sent from Heaven” is certainly a trek back ’90s Britpop memory lane—playful, cheery, tuneful, and yes, heavenly!
“The Rose The Sun” then slowly pulsates into a buildup of sonic patches and aural framework—sweet, romantic, and flowing melodiously like a saccharine soundscape. Another hopeful and inspiring track plays next in the form of the guitar-oriented and drum-and-bugle-designed “The One,” which highlights the presence of guitarist Nick Evans of Doves as Shillingford’s cowriter and co-producer. The celebratory mood and anthemic guitar lines continue on with the singalong sensibilities of the title track, whose dramatic mid-song interlude makes it the perfect mid-album highlight as well.
Shillingford as My Life Story then treats the listener to the sparkling beauty and golden grace of “Telescope Moonlight Boy,” which is made extra special by featuring Spandau Ballet’s Steve Norman on his trademark, soaring soprano sax. New Romantic at its best; yes, this much is true! Near the end of this beautiful record, “A Country with No Coastline” then marches its beat and rhythm and parades its delicate piano pieces and other classy and big-sounding orchestral parts with its proverbial seaside arms.
Finally, My Life Story concludes World Citizen with something Classical and eerie—the hauntingly cinematic and World/Gothic combo “Overwinter”—what an unforgettable and poignant way to wrap up an elegant comeback album. Nineteen years in the making! Every chime and bell and strings and horns are well woven. Shillingford remains the tunesmith and musical genius whom he always was. World Citizen is worth the wait! That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 5 out of 5 stars.