Enjoyed The Outer Marker, loved Overtones, and really wanted to love this. And yet, and yet, whilst there's nothing really wrong with it, somehow it's just a little too understated.
His subject matter remains the everyday and it's a subject he wears well and easily. The lyrics are still smart, relevant and snappy without being too self-conscious with just about each song well crafted around them, telling a short (often bitter-sweet) story.
But somehow this time round, the musical soul and variety which was there in Overtones is missing. The harmonies still work and the drum beats, violins and handclaps form a neat and clever backdrop to the lyrics but each song sounds just a little too similar and a little too underplayed. There's nothing which matches the lo-fi funkiness of "Disco Friends", the hip-hop-esque punch of "Life Stories" or soaring vocals of "No Time". Instead the tracks just roll into a steady and pleasant backdrop which just slides past you without you noticing.
Clearly there's a couple of stand-out tracks - Embers matches the best of Overtones - but equally there are disappointments, especially Goth at the Disco which, absolutely blinding live, is stripped of its passion and turned into an overly engineered series of electronic blips.
It's still worth getting, and better than a lot of similar music, but sadly just not what I'd been hoping for.