Cinematic indie-rock with a quintessentially English flavour and a healthy dose of melancholy...

This is the third instalment in Duncan Lloyd’s solo career. The prolific writer behind Maximo Park, Decade in Exile and Nano Kino has quietly released a great album.

Finding its place somewhere in the cinematic indie-rock plain, it takes the finest elements of Midlake’s work (and those are some mighty-fine elements indeed), adds a quintessentially English flavour and a healthy dose of melancholy with a tiny dash of whimsy for the perfect combination.

‘Historic Elements’ is a fine opener, unfurling into a wistful wash of guitars and synths as it’s carried along by a rolling drum pattern and some gorgeous vocal harmonies. ‘Planetarium’ takes the best elements of ‘70s FM rock and gives them a vital 21st century twist. Sarah Suri adds excellent counterpointing vocals to the energetic title track and things seem set fair for a driving run to the album’s finish line.

However, the real beauty of this album is that Lloyd is able to showcase simultaneously the versatility and breadth in his song writing on the one hand, and maintain a sense of identity and purpose on the other. For a case in point, look no further than the fine, string-driven ‘Journey B’, the perfect soundtrack to an emotive moment on a forthcoming TV drama (Duncan can thank me when the placement comes, as it assuredly will). There’s a greatness at the heart of this song, and this album, which is unusual in contemporary British ‘pop’ music.

'Til the Fear Breaks’ takes things in an energetic, indie rock direction, whilst ‘Guess and Wonder’ leans into Lloyd’s double-tracked vocals before adding layers of harmony. Beautiful. This is only built upon by the harmonic interplay of vocals and strings on the closing track, ‘First, Monday’.

Make sure you carve out a decent amount of time to spend with this album. You won’t  regret it.

8/10

Words: Haydon Spenceley

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