Album: Sweet Billy Pilgrim, Crown and Treaty (Luxor/EMI)

 

Sweet Billy Pilgrim's follow-up to 2009's Mercury-nominated Twice Born Men finds songwriter Tim Elsenburg making great strides forward with an ambitious cycle of songs about identity and history.

It's a work of light and shade, quite literally, with recurring images of darkness being illuminated. "Arrived at Upside Down" is the centrepiece, its reflections on birth and life arranged for glockenspiel, avant-rock guitar and violin. Alongside it are sleek art-pop exercises that variously recall the likes of Elbow, Talk Talk and Radiohead, employing unusual sonic strategies to animate Elsenburg's thoughtful, literate lyrics.

Download: Arrived at Upside Down; Blakefield Gold; Archaeology

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