How can a record so submerged in misery and despair sound so hypnotically beautiful? By using a range of artists from 4AD's record label and covering a load of classics from the likes of Alex Chilton and Tim Buckley, the record draws you in by playing with your heartstrings through melancholic lyrics and dark, moody compositions.
The usual problem with these sorts of records is that they tend to sound repetitive, but you will not find any of that here. Some tracks are very minimal (the haunting Song to the Siren), others are deeply lush and textured (Fond Affections and Fyt to name a few) - there's something here for everyone, with the range of covers letting the older members reminisce about their Goth days in the eighties and tracks like The Last Ray giving the younger listeners a taste of eighties chillout music. And the good thing is it all blends into a cohesive whole.
Of course, the album is not without its short comings. The one track that I just can't warm up to is one with Lisa Gerrard on vocals called Dreams Made Flesh, and it pains me to say it because I love her soaring banshee-like wails, but throughout that track she just seems to be doing her own thing with her singing and the instruments not going with each other at all. Luckily, she is redeemed by a second track to which she lends her vocals, Waves Become Wings (which is one of my favourite tracks). I have a few other nitpicks, but they're mainly associated to the fact that the record was released twenty years ago, such as the sometimes rather clumsy way in which some of the songs are melded into each other.
But, those are just minor quibbles in what is a superb album full of captivating and emotive tracks.