(Creation CRECD 173)
Winsome and reflective, 's Grand Prix bears its manifold gifts with unassuming grace and more vulnerability than we've come to expect from the British retro-pop tendency. Rather than the round of hurt, swagger and pearly-queen cockneyisms of their southern colleagues, the Scots quartet focus on doubt and lost love, on "the things together / that we'll never do", transmuting their emotional aches and pains into fragile pop structures that hint at, rather than borrow wholeheartedly from, their influences. As Ray McGinley puts it in "Verisimilitude", "...rebellion is a platitude / I hate verisimilitude".
So apart from the one track, "Discolite", which sounds like The Flamin' Groovies' "Shake Some Action" drained of its volition - more twitch than shake, really - their musical mentors are shadowy figures here, hiding behind weak puns like "Neil Jung" and letting the group mould them into new shapes. At times, the eternal pop verities of ringing chord changes and shining harmonies are held to be a little too much their own justification, their relative unadornment leaving them sounding at times like demos, but it's this monkish dedication to the essence of their art that is ultimately 's trump card. There's not likely to be another album released this year that backs quite so disarmingly into one's presence before stamping its character gently upon every waking thought.