My Life Story were done a disservice when they were linked in with the burgeoning Britpop scene in the mid 90s. While they may have been finding a rightful place in the top 40, they were always a far more cerebral and forward facing band than their peers. The ensuing decades have been kind to them with their music ageing well, so when they announced they’d be recording their first album in almost 20 years, there was much cause for optimism.
The crowd-sourced record was thrown into turmoil with the collapsing of PledgeMusic, but luckily most of the funds were recovered and the recordings could proceed. The result is the modern yet still sparkly World Citizen. My Life Story may be more globally aware on their latest record, but there is still plenty of room for matters of the heart. Stark piano ushers in #NoFilter, and harks back to familiar baroque pop territory for the band. Eventually the band kick in channelling Ultravox or Roxy Music before giving way to choirs, an orchestra and the typically emotive Jake Shillingford vocal.
In their heyday, the My Life Story orchestra collaborated with The Pogues, Marc Almond and The Wonderstuff. This time around, the band were stripped down to their essentials and the orchestra was sourced by recording the string sections in Budapest via Skype. It doesn’t stop My Life Story from referencing the strings of their biggest hit Sparkle during the bombastic Taking On The World. In a similar vein, the jaunty Sent From Heaven sounds as though it could be the companion piece to 1997’s King Of Kissingdom, and is every bit as much of an earworm.
Jake Shillingford hasn’t lost any of his command of the English language, with his lyrics being as whip smart as ever. Broken proves that the outfit can do power pop with ease, as they add a jangle that hasn’t been present in earlier works. In spite of their killer singles, My Life Story have always excelled when it comes to the slower, more sombre album tracks. World Citizen offers up its fair share of hidden gems with Telescope Moonlight Boy and The One being unhurried, lush and bold.
World Citizen finds My Life Story navigating the turbulent political and technological landscape while forging a new chapter of glitter laden splendour, albeit with some darker undertones. The signature My Life Story flamboyance still rears its head even when the band make an album that is “searching for truth in a world full of lies”. World Citizen is witty, rockier and worth the wait.