I've always had a soft spot for bands who recommend 'further reading' in their sleevenotes - apart from The Manic Street Preachers, of course. Compatriots of those blustering blowhards, Jack are REAL bohemians and if you find them a little pretentious - well, off you go with your Keane albums and Celebrity Big Brother DVDs then.
Influenced as much by film and literature as music, Jack's songs reference Warhol, Nabokov, Bukowski, Cocteau, Fellini......But all this would be so much studenty name-dropping were it not backed up by their vivid lyricism and the powerful, chamber-rock sound of the music. Anthony Reynolds has also got a beautiful, richly-timbered voice: he needs it for this kind of conceit to work.
Rented rooms, afternoon drinking, recreational drugs, waiting in the housing benefit queue.....ah, the travails of the working-class intellectual - can't you see I'm trying to live a life of squalid glamour here?
With its dramatic, orhestral introduction and lovelorn, drink-addled narrator, '3 O'Clock In The Morning' is the perfect opener - "There's this all night garage and 7-11/ If you're pissed in the morning, it's like some kind of route to heaven...".
'Saturday's Plan' is a defiant "us against them" lovers' tale a la The Smiths 'Hand In Glove', 'Lolita Elle' is simply gorgeous - "love like ours is as doomed and stained as snow." 'Nico's Children' builds slowly up into an abrasive crescendo and 'Half-Cut, Wholly Yours' rounds things off in suitably sozzled fashion.
Less arch than The Divine Comedy, more authentic than Tindersticks, this album demands to be better known. Spread the word.