Every once in a while I think about would-be supergroup Minor Victories and wonder why I didn’t love their 2016 self-titled debut more than I did. I listened to it a lot on its release, and it certainly hit a lot of sweet spots for me, but didn’t end up having the shelf life I would have expected considering the DNA of the project.
For those who don’t know – or have forgotten – that’s Rachel Goswell of Slowdive, Stuart Braithwaite of Mogwai, and Justin Lockey of Editors along with Lockey’s brother James on bass: a pretty unimpeachable resume of shoegaze, post-rock, and post-punk right there. A Lockey project at it’s core, Goswell was added as a vocalist and she brought Braithwaite in on guitar. Writing and recording was all done remotely – this was years before the pandemic enforced this method of collaboration – though the principals did get together in the flesh for some limited touring in the latter half of 2016.
In conversation with Interview in June 2016 about how the project came together, Lockey said:
INTERVIEW: Can you tell me about the first time all four of you finally met in person?
LOCKEY: Yeah, we hadn’t been in the same room until way after the record was finished, which was strange—recording a record with three other people and never being in the same room as anyone. We started rehearsals in March and the night before, we all went out for a drink in Glasgow. There were no great surprises because there were no egos, no “my band’s this, my band’s that.” That’s not the kind of people we are. It was like, “Oh cool, we’re all together, it’s kind of strange, but not really.” Like, I live with my wife but I was more in touch with Rachel than my wife for most of the recording—in terms of technologically connected.All About Minor Victories @ Interview
In any case, I do recall being excited about the record mainly because, save a few occasional guest appearances over the years, this record was Goswell’s first record as a full band member since the last Mojave 3 record in 2006. Slowdive were reunited and touring in 2016, but their first record of new material wouldn’t come until the following year.
So why didn’t it stick? Maybe in trying not to be too Slowdive or too Mogwai, it wasn’t Slowdive or Mogwai enough for me (I like a few Editors records but don’t rate myself as more than very casual fan). But in revisiting the record just now, I’m being reminded of what I like about it far more than what I didn’t. So let’s revisit with the first single from the record, and the corresponding audio from the companion Orchestral Variations album which also came out in 2016.