The Waterboys – Good Luck, Seeker: Mike Scott refuses to rest on former glories

Fri, Aug 21, 2020, 05:00

   
 

Album:
Good Luck, Seeker

Artist:
The Waterboys

Label:
Cooking Vinyl

Genre:
Alternative

On his fourteenth album as a Waterboy, Mike Scott claims to have channelled the influences of the Rolling Stones, Kate Bush, Sly Stone and Kendrick Lamar. In other words, it’s business as usual for Scott and his “allegedly unorthodox” career.

Scott has been cocooning in his Dublin home studio, enjoying the immediacy of making music in the modern age. It sounds like he’s having a ball, especially on the swaggering opening track The Soul Singer. “He gets away with being rude,” Scott sings. “Cause everyone’s scared of his quicksilver mood. The soul singer.” Horns blast along triumphantly, and Scott even does a few yelps. This is clearly not Fisherman’s Blues. 

However, Scott explores Celtic mysticism in the latter stages of Good Luck, Seeker, where he leans into spoken word. Postcard from the Celtic Dream Time is based on a poem written back in the 80s while writing and recording Fisherman’s Blues at Spiddal House, Co Galway. It’s a spoken word track in the vein of Coney Island by Van Morrison. It works, and it doesn’t. If you don’t like the Waterboys, it is highly unlikely that this will change your mind.

On one level, it’s a pleasant musical stroll with Mike Scott as your narrator. On another, it’s an insufferable Celtic Twilight circle of hell. The first half consists of a reasonably conventional hybrid of pop, jazz, folk and rock, but the second will test some listeners, who will hail it as genius or doggerel, depending on where you stand with the Waterboys in the first place. 

Having said that, Mike Scott deserves great credit for not being afraid of having a go and refusing to rehash the same ‘big music’ schtick ad nauseam. Apparently, this is the third and final instalment of a trilogy that started with Out of All This Blue in 2017 and continued with Where the Action Is last year.

In typically prolific fashion, Scott has reportedly written the follow up to this record already, proving that he steadfastly refuses to sit still or rest on former glories. While many of his peers luxuriate in a stagnant stew of dated nostalgia, this is very much a good thing.  

My Wanderings in the Weary Land is a highlight, as Scott delivers some great lines. “I witnessed the birth and funeral of Laddism,” he sings. “I heard the Great Unspoken, Saw cruelty masquerade as humour.”

Even the more bloated moments are accomplished and entertaining. You can accuse Mike Scott and the Waterboys of many things, but you certainly can’t accuse them of being boring.