Personnel: Dom Morley (synthesizer); Andy Samson (drums, percussion).
Audio Mixer: Dom Morley.
Recording information: Flint Barn Studios, Oxfordshire; Sugar Cane Studios, London.
In the four years since reviving the Mull Historical Society (MHS) banner, indie pop stalwart and Hebridean renaissance man Colin MacIntyre also managed to publish his debut novel, The Letters of Ivor Punch. The book's title character, who makes his home on MacIntyre's beloved Isle of Mull, crosses over into the author's musical world on "The Ballad of Ivor Punch," the rousing lead single from MHS' fifth proper LP, Dear Satellite. It seems a fitting cross-pollination from an artist whose albums have always felt a bit like personal microcosms or creative habitats. While the world MacIntyre presents here is far more straightforward than the lush pop pastiches of his early-2000s output, MHS remains his personal diary and aural sketchbook. Produced by Dom Morley (Amy Winehouse, Mark Ronson) -- who also helmed 2012's City Awakenings -- Dear Satellite arrives a year after MHS' first greatest-hits package, indicating the start of a new era for the veteran songwriter. The ten tracks here range in character and texture, but all generally fall into MacIntyre's wheelhouse of warmly crafted, introspective guitar pop. Leading the pack are the aforementioned single "The Ballad of Ivor Punch," the dark and quirky "Bones," and the heartfelt jangle of "Each Other." Album opener "Build Another Brick" is also a lovely bit of pop balladry with its big, hooky chorus and unique transitions. If the remaining cuts don't quite live up to the artistry MacIntyre showed in his early years, their lived-in portraits of love, family, and mortality come from the heart and fill in the mortar on another solid MHS release. ~ Timothy Monger