That hiatus seems to have brought a new calmness and simplicity to their music – the default sound here is percussive yet restrained – but it has also allowed songwriter Gary Lightbody to bring artistic perspective to a number of personal issues.
Soon, which deals with his father’s dementia, is heartbreaking: “The secret storms of your wild youth,” he sings, “now just gentle breezes, warm.”
Equally impressive though are a number of songs detailing his own rescue by an unnamed woman from booze-filled unhappiness: Heal Me, with its beautifully twisting, turning vocal, and the curiously light and bouncy A Dark Switch.
Best of all is the powerful and resonant What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get? built over just a handful of mournful piano chords: “Come on over here, I’m in the ruins too/I know the record so well…”
Ryley Walker – Deafman Glance
Ryley Walker – Deafman Glance (Dead Oceans) – out now
“I just wanted to make something weird and far-out that came from the heart,” Illinois-born singer-songwriter Ryley Walker has said of the expansive, mercurial Deafman Glance.
That it is also playful, beautifully melodic and more accessible than such a strange mixture of folk, pop and experimental jazz deserves to be, is utterly remarkable.
The opening Castle Dome is a mournful plod through his adopted city of Chicago that is curiously uplifting; likewise the rapidly-shifting tempos of 22 Days and discordant 1960s-flavoured Accommodations.
Sounding a little like Bonnie “Prince” Billy or Gil Scott Heron at times, Walker has authored an instant cult classic here.
Bob Marley features on Island Reggae album
Reissue of the week
Various Artist – Island Reggae(Island, three discs) – out now
Including, for the first time on a compilation, two sublime Bob Marley tracks (Is This Love and Three Little Birds), Island Reggae is an exhaustive trawl through the genre, with stone-cold classics such as Ken Boothe’s much covered Everything I Own and Dave and Ansel Collins’s Double Barrel, the superb Steel Pulse’s Handsworth Revolution and U-Roy’s timely Chalice In The Palace.
With the sun shining, what more perfect accompaniment?