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“Black is the colour of my true love’s arrow, just the colour of a human’s blood,” stutters Elvis Perkins, opening this his second album with the guttural folk-stomp of Shampoo. This is a potent sentiment; the darkness of things is a recurring theme for Perkins, a self-professed ‘recording artist’ (he is said to condemn the term ‘singer-songwriter’), whose life and work was greatly shaped by the loss of his mother in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. His debut album Ash Wednesday was a caustic and distressed affair, whereas this album picks up the swagger a little, colouring Perkins’ simple yet effective melodics with smatterings of brass, harmoniums and tin-pan percussion. His voice is unmistakable – a pristine warble, youthful and exuberant, with no small inflection of Bob Marley’s Rastafarian arpeggios.  A strength of the record is the range of tone in these songs; from the sad sailor’s swagger of Hours Last Stand, via the Waits-ian nightmare of I’ll Be Arriving to the playfully sardonic antics of Doomsday – “And although you voted for that awful man, I would never refuse your hand.” This album feels like a singer – sorry, songwriter – coming out of his shell a little, lifting the intensity of his voice and instrumentation, and in doing so, presenting a weird yet wholly accessible and moving record.

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