There are no surprises on this reunion release from American Music Club, their first album since 1994's San Francisco. Indeed, it's as if they have been cryogenically frozen since then, so seamlessly do these songs extend that album's vein of self-mocking, misanthropic melancholy. "What kills your soul is the pain you make/ The fights you throw/ The love you fake", muses lead singer Mark Eitzel amid the booming percussion and reverberating piano of "Mantovani the Mind Reader". Eitzel has always been a glass-half-empty man, his eye at its keenest when seeing the downside of any situation. "If you buy a lottery ticket, you'll win one day/ A pile of dead scratchers with the gold and silver scratched away", he notes in "The Horseshoe Wreath in Bloom". This sardonic commentary on a life spent hacking at the indie coalface is the most upbeat piece here, its rollicking organ recalling The Band. Elsewhere, the glum musical landscape is significantly contoured in only a few places: the feedback noise that evokes depression in "Job to Do", the twinkling guitars of "Myopic Books" and the multi-tracked trumpet coda that lends "The Devil Needs You" a little of the unsettling discordancy of Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom.