I cannot emphasize enough how much I appreciate labels that consistently release terrific records. It is worth a great deal when you get excited whenever a label announces a new release, when you can blindly rely on a label’s good taste. Take Spanish label Meritorio Records. The label’s batting average in 2021 is off the charts. Basically, all of their recent releases are worth your money (i.e., Wurld Series, The Telephone Numbers, Monnone Alone, Real Numbers, Stephen’s Shore).
Meritorio’s latest homerun is the debut LP (RF) from Rural France, a duo (Tom Brown and Rob Fawkes) that actually lives in Rural England (Wiltshire). Rural France plays ’60s pop disguised as ’90s slacker indie rock. The guitars are fuzzy and jangly, and the lo-fi songs are short and forward moving. Oh, and there is the occasional synth lick saying hi, how are you. If you are looking for 25 minutes of worriless escapism powered by solid songwriting, look no further than RF. What I like most about this release is how coherent and accomplished it is as a full album. Usually, it’s easy to pick out the highlights of a record, but this one I would actually recommend listening in full. And the record still keeps getting better with each listen, despite being accessible right from the bat.
For some reason, it took Rural France (“The hardest working, nineties-influenced indie rock band in West Wiltshire”) several years to record and release RF. “The songs were mostly written during the heatwave of 2018, spurred on by Beach Boys bootlegs and a World Cup. Half-drunk on the sun and Brian Wilson’s genius, I’d make the short journey from the garden to my guitar to try and get down some vague ideas that were forming in the haze of that sweltering suburban summer,” Brown explains. Not sure if it had any influence on the band name or the songwriting, but France won that 2018 World Cup.
So yeah, Meritorio hit another one out of the park. And (spoiler alert) the next one is coming soon (Semi Trucks, out November 26).