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A BIG YES... and a small no

Jesus That Looks Terrible on You

(Thorough Left Records; US: 13 May 2008; UK: Unavailable)

A BIG YES…and a small no are many bands in one. Not in terms of personnel, you understand (though with six core members and double that contributing to this album in all, they’re hardly the most slightly staffed band around), but stylistically, their debut tip-toes schizophrenically through jazz, pop, indie and ska with the comfort of an outfit who’ve been playing their trade for a decade or two but the vibrancy of one only just getting started. The likes of “I’m Always Manic (When I’m Around You)” and “Faded Away” are playful, smile-on-my-face brass-tinged pop with a nod in the direction of They Might Be Giants, in contrast to the slow-burning indie-rock of the title track and the plaintive sigh of “Looking Over My Shoulder”‘s glockenspiel-speckled folk. Star of the show, however, is the mischievous “Composure”, in particular the suave Kevin Kendrick’s wry wordplay (“You need closure / So I’m proposing / If you keep composure / I’ll keep composing”) and the pass-it-along instrumental fugues in between. “This Doesn’t Quite Feel Like Goodbye” can’t quite cut it with the rest and at just under half-an-hour Jesus That Looks Terrible on You is one of those pesky albums reviewers can’t decided whether to prefix with mini-, but its such a genuine delight to hear a band experimenting fruitfully and having fun that that’s an easy issue to forgive.

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