It's quite delicate and complicated. Overtones of one of those cigarello adverts from the Eighties on "Lick Your Wounds". "The Listening Times" has the sway of some Forties tune, setting sail for the tropic of Capricorn and shuffling with suave notions. Big, cavernous, sombre piano and that Lennonesque double tracked vocals opening the scene on "Bicycle Riding": the mood of the piece though sighs with ennui ("I've seen it all before/I've seen it all before"), the least happy song about riding a bike you'll likely to hear.
"The 03" seems to be about begging for bus fare before its hinges swing open onto a chorus of MacCartneyian dimensions with plans to write a letter to the editor. A soft shoe shuffle introduces "Early Kneecappings" (which is a great title), and I suppose shuffling would be fitting. It's a blackly slinky beast, which may or may not be about peer pressure in a rather blackly inverted fashion. Slinky too is "The Bisexual", about a man with "his eyes on dessert"; the tune unravels into the distance in an unresolved fashion as our narrator "contemplates disaster". Cymbal tap and end.
There's a jazzy, dawn walk of shame atmosphere surrounding "Dessau Rag". Dessau was the place where Kurt Weill was born. This is not likely to be a coincidence. Even though there are no words, I can hear moral values leaking all over the place. The album closes with "Legends", which pulls together a couple of character sketches while the band continue to make espionage noises in the background; jagged guitar jumping from the shadows, violins keeping the nerves on alert, bass smoothing over any cracks.
They sound like a crisper version of Tindersticks; the same after hours feel, but an altogether more confusing narrative mood. It is a tale of shady characters with shadier motives and back stories. Violins often scribble over the endings to obscure the matter. Probably best they stay in the dark.
Rating: Slinky Vignettes out of Leaky Morals