Album: The Long Blondes, "Couples" (Rough Trade)

If the Long Blondes' debut was written from the perspective of a "Fifties housewife" who wanted out, then '"Couples"' (the quotation marks are part of the title) is the testament of someone who's got out, and is making apprehensive steps back into cattle-market nightlife.

"Couples"' contains its fair share of shoutalong indie anthems, but producer Erol Alkan has amplified the Blondes' backbeat. The bleak futurism of "Century" and the woozy "Round the Hairpin" take the Sheffield quintet into new territory, as does the stealthily sexy "Too Clever By Half". One of the albums of the year from one of the bands of the decade.