Sontiche, 'Ever' (Mercy)
The piano makes a discrete plinking noise. The drum stick raps politely on the rim of the snare. The synths billow and the bass guitar goes for a leisurely stroll. This is what Sontiche do.
They are Mark Simpson and Martin McClatchey from Armagh.ï¿½ They make no apologies for liking The Blue Nile, Talk Talk and Scott Walter. And indeed, why should they? Therefore the music they make is cloaked in the purple hues of twilight, played with restraint, full of meaningful gaps and fade-outs.
Sometimes it's a little too precious. You want a bit of strangeness, a Sigur Ros style tangent, a shuffle into This Mortal Coil. The devil's alternative is Celtic jazzbo tranquillity, performed by long haired boys in velvet jackets. And we've got a surplus of those - right?
Three songs rescue the record. ï¿½Lost Love Song' is a singular tune, full of unscripted woe and washes of sentimentality. It sounds like John Grant from The Czars, which is shorthand for semi genius.
ï¿½Waking Brilliant' is a weary rebuke to the old girlfriend that's got the money and the lifestyle. But not the love, of course. All the singer can do is to savour the terrible ironies of this new scheme.
It finishes with ï¿½Here I Stand', tailing off into near silence. Ashes, dust and desolation. Not a record you want to hear all the way through, all of the time. But the selected highlights are rather deadly.