Wow! I had read that "Out of Here" was uplifting and positive, so I thought I would give it a try. What I did not expect was that it would be one of my two favourite albums of 1999. The album begins as it intends to go on, with "Music for Pleasure", an acoustic-guitar driven traipse through wistful melancholy, as the lyrics focus on dashed hopes being replaced by positive realism, looking forward to the future. A lot of the songs seem to look at either disappointment or a fresh start, "The New You" being a track to play after having given up smoking, or after having been dumped. Trust me, it'll make you feel a lot better. My favourite track, though, is "Postcard from a Friend", which ambles along at its own pace, a beautiful melody which David Bowie could have written supplemented with fine backing from Departure Lounge, and lyrics about that lost friend who has gone on to be famous and left you behind. We've all had them, right? "We've Got Everything We Need", a raucous Britpop throwback which constitutes the penultimate track, deserves a mention for some of the cleverest, funniest lyrics since Squeeze's "Up the Junction" hit the charts. If our garden is overgrowing/ We've got better things to do/ And if our bathtub is overflowing/ It means I'm in there too/ Yes that's me in there with the mask and snorkel Which just about summarises why this album is worth buying; after listening to it, you will be convinced that there is nothing to worry about, and that a fresh start is yours for the taking.
Gee--I thought Beth Orton was going to win as my favorite new discovery of the year, but...Out of Here is easily the most beautiful album I've listened to in ages. No nihilism here. A richly detailed, lush production (oboes, harmonicas, horns, steel guitars) with Mr. Keegan's heartbreaking voice telling you that there's nothing wrong with being wistful and happy and introspective all at once. I recommend lying down on the floor, head next to the speakers, and listening to the first track, "Music for Pleasure" with a cup of earl grey nearby. "Disconnected" reminds me of the best song Morrissey never wrote (sorry!), and it's lovely. This is an album that slowly unfurls itself with each listening.
Having traveled quite a bit this year this album best makes any hotel room or, indeed, departure loungue more like home. 'Save me from happiness', disconnected and 'win them back' are exceptionaly well crafted songs. This band is prolific and has already left behind songs other bands would kill for. This is the alternative alternative. Buy this album now so you can say you had it first.