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is the follow up to Turin Brakes' critically acclaimed The Optimist
. As leading lights of the much vaunted New Acoustic Movement, Turin Brakes were one of the bands that took on the unenviable task of making quiet, faintly nostalgic acoustic guitar music appeal to a young audience that, rightly, should want anything but. However, their debut LP, The Optimist
had a certain soulful promise that ensured it appealed more to the post-clubbing than the pipe-and-slippers crowd, and its follow-up, the sturdy Ether Song
builds on its predecessor with added clarity of purpose. Now, South London duo Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian have chosen to bolster their fragile acoustic core with a slightly more robust instrumentation: drums beaten rather than brushed, vibrant piano motifs to flesh out the languid strum, and even--gasp!--the odd electric-guitar solo. They still fall for clichés with a slightly depressing regularity: "Summer rain / Dripping down your face again", they duet on "Pain Killer"--the sort of lyrical profundity that should really be left to Bryan Adams. But there is real content here: "Panic Attack" holds a hint of the peculiar Englishness of Syd Barrett, while the shiversome "Long Distance" stands out as the finest song Turin Brakes have yet written, a grandiose treatise on obsession spattered with electronic laser-bursts and borne out by a piano coda of weighty epic stature. --Louis Pattison