This is a band like no other. If they ever have anything bigger than a cult following, it'll be the day that Iraq elects a secular government with a platfrom of joining the U.S. in invading Canada. Their previous albums were little more than 'soundscapes', with free-form poetry read over the top in a Scottish accent. But it was fascinating, hypnotic stuff; stories of white trash life set to slow guitar picking, the wheezing of some old organ, and maybe a violin thrown in here and there. There were tales of getting naked with the sister of a friend, and finding out about the secret affairs of a girlfriend in her diary. "As I said at the time," intones Adrian Moffat, talking about the hidden diary. "If you've got nothing to hide, why hide it?" These kind of words hang around in your memory a lot longer than whatever crap flavor-of-the-month bands babble in their rush to get to the chorus.
So anyway, after three albums of that kind of thing, it was apparently time to ramp up the drum machine, and put some work into the backing music, which is more complex and hook-laden than before. The lyrics are still about the usual themes of getting drunk, having sex, and breaking up - and they're just as profane as before - but they're sung this time. That makes this album the most accessible of their career so far, and maybe the best - if not the most groundbreaking. But what the hell, that ground was already broken, and it was time to build. With this album, they've built a really good ground floor. Here's hoping the second storey is as good.