Album: The Beauty Shop

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The Beauty Shop's John Hoeffleur has one of those weary grunge voices that suggests an adolescence steeped in rather more J Mascis than might be healthy; and judging by the mournful tone of songs such as "Monster" and "Paper Hearts for Josie", you could be forgiven for thinking him just another suburban angst merchant "clad in plaid and flannel dreams", as he puts it in "Science Lights".

But there's a sly humour at work here, particularly in "I Got Issues", where the jaunty acoustic guitar and drum tattoo underscores the comedy in lines such as "I wrote 'fuck' on all my clothes/ But that's the life I chose/ I made a monkey out of me/ That's my ancestry".

Hoeffleur has a deft way with metaphors, using worms to represent outsiders in "Nightcrawlers", and the fairytale character in "Rumplestiltskin Lives!" to suggest the dark underbelly of pop culture that breeds Charles Manson and the Columbine massacre. There's nothing groundbreaking about the guitar trio's arrangements, but there is a haunting immediacy across a range of styles, from the droll polka "Baby Shaker" to the sprightly two-step "A Desperate Cry for Help", a pastiche of Johnny Cash's glum fatalism.

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'I Got Issues', 'Science Lights', 'Paper Hearts for Josie'