Friday 28 June 2013

The Short Stories - Send My Love To Everyone

Album review by

An uplifting swathe of horns welcomes you into 'Angry Young Man (1)' and quickly you are stepping into The Short Stories' world and their album 'Send My Love To Everyone'. This isn't an album for if you're wanting to rage against the world. It has a quintessentially English feel to it. 'Angry Young Man' glides through with those twinkling horns shimmering through the song. This is a song that allows you to feel like walking along on a lazy summer's day, with an ice-cream. After that bright introduction 'Short Stories For Long Nights' is a more sombre affair. It tells a tale of youthful frustration, leading into a paean about the redemptive abilities of the right song. This is painted with a sharp lyrical quip that recalls Billy Bragg or Jarvis Cocker, in taking an everyday scene and making it feel quite extraordinary.

'Make Me Smile' has a light footedness to it that lifts you out of the 4am reverie left over from 'Short Stories...'. This is a fresh and breezy song; lovely use of an almost mariachi sounding trumpet adds a sunshine edge to an already summery song. It has a lightness of touch that the Divine Comedy honed so well. The sun is kept shining with 'Are You Listening To Me Now?'. As before there is a darker undercurrent to the lyrics than the music suggests. Musically the song rides along, and you can simply loose yourself in its infectiousness, then take a deeper listen and it tells of a lost relationship, reminiscing on its journey. A chiming guitar swings you into 'Bridges'. It has a loose, hooky-bass texturing the darkening feel of the song. The vocal has a edge to it that recalls Ian Curtis' monolithic delivery. As the song progresses, it touches deeper into Joy Division and The Cure's territory. It's not trench-coated goth, but has a more introspective touch and enriches the album by its contrast. The song almost has a reprise built into it, lead by some guitar lines that would fit on any Richard Hawley album. 'Bridges' builds and builds into a nine-plus minute trip.

'Falling Star' is preceded by a lovely little wry soundbite on the meaning of love. Then, after 'Bridges'' epic grace, 'Falling Star' dances and swirls and turns out to be one of the best songs on the album. It has a true irresistibly that will always get you dancing, but it is a excellently crafted song, that has flashes of Belle & Sebastian, but stands tall in such company. With another crackling intro, this time lifted from Gershwin's 'Summertime', 'The Robin Song' ,echoes 'Summertime''s note with a bluesy harmonica. Another sharp lyrical picture is painted, delivered like some lost Lou Reed track from his 'Berlin' album. 'The Robin Song' meanders slightly and your attention almost wanes, then the all is pulled back into the song with some genteel and masterful guitar, then the song stretches out, almost overstaying its welcome.

After 'The Robin Song''s wander, 'Make Me Happy' is inevitably concise, yet not throwaway. A rich rush, namechecking Morrissey and recalling his former band at there brightest. It's not quite a Smiths homage, but it dances happily in their bequiffed shadow until switching it up with some classic rock 'n' roll Telstar guitar. Then those horns make an enchanting return. The Short Stories take us into the album's last couplet of songs. 'We're Still The Same' has a slower waltz-like feel to it, a lament with the refrain "we're still the same somehow". And so to the end and 'Angry Young Man (2)' returns us to where we began. Our "young man" has been through a journey and is looking forward. The song works lovely in the context to end the chapter of 'Send My Love To Everyone'. It then codas in an unexpected splendor that is noisily grand. With this album The Short Stories have given us a mature, crafted, at times enchanting album, that stands out for simply being about the art and pleasure of the song.

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