He's a tricky customer, this Rhys guy. He's said before now that he can't help but write melodic tunes, even when he's angry. And he seems pretty angry here. There used to plenty of posters round Bangor when I'd come home for Christmas advising us to "stwffio'r Dolig" ("stuff Xmas") and I wonder how much Gruff might've been involved, because he seems pretty intent on reminding us about how shitty Christmasses can be.
One track, relevantly optimistic, is about people surviving nuclear holocaust long enough to mark the first post-apocalyptic Xmas. The second is about someone thinking about suicide. The third is "Slashed Wrists This Christmas", about a friend that tried to kill themselves in 1987. "Mistletoe and Wine" they amn't.
But the tunes are sweet as always; the vocals understated to the point of mumbling, which I suppose makes a midwinter sense. And the songs seem to have mutated from the likes of Mud's "Lonely This Christmas" those glamrock reinventions of the early Rock'n'Roll. "Post Apocalypse Christmas" in particular has a hazy, fuzzy T-Rex like shuffle to it with handclaps and everything - Showaddywaddy Claus or summat like that.
So a real antidote for warm, fuzzy festive feelings, if you want it. Cold, cold razor blades all round.
Rating: Travelling out of Xmas.