Pop: You're Unbelievable

Clarity and transparency are the key to the sound of Oxford trio The Unbelievable Truth. Fans may find them a welcome antidote to the aggressive, guitar-laden sounds of Britpop Beth Orton and The Sundays were particularly lucky in their choice of support band on their tours at the end of last year - the quietly dignified Oxford trio The Unbelievable Truth. The band puts more faith in weighty song craftsmanship than in Britpop, and values intense tunefulness over aggressive guitars. Vocalist and guitarist Andy Yorke looks healthier and sings prettier than older sibling Thom of Radiohead, and the fact people are more likely to compare them to Crowded House and Talk Talk than Oasis makes them pretty much outsiders. "People's ears have just got attuned to big guitar rock, so it's very difficult to get something transparent-sounding across," explains keyboardist and drummer Nigel Powell. "Our intention is not to be hysterical and not to be insecure about songs; it's content over style we go for, and power through clarity."

The new single, "Higher Than Reason", is as vivid and direct as they get, and it's a stunner. Andy's voice is pure heart-tugging poignancy, especially when he delivers the lines: "My soul/ Is defended by the will to stay alive/ For some unknown reason, I can't keep that will for long," which refers to an experience dating back to adolescence. He became obsessed by a novelist dealing with "vaguely mystical, spiritual ideas, trying to find undercurrents of things that happen underneath the surface of everyday reality. I got a bit lost really. The song is about becoming disenchanted with that," he adds with a chuckle. "This was when I was 17, living with my parents in the middle of bleeding nowhere with no one to talk to."

That isn't the only occasion his sensitivity got the better of him. Andy, Nigel and bassist Jason Moulster began the band way back in 1993, but a crisis of confidence led to a split in 1995, during which time Andy "did a runner" to Russia. On his return in 1996, the band picked up their instruments once again. Things have gone so well that the first album is complete and will be released in April.

The music is topped off by Andy's intimate and vulnerable voice. "I've always loved singing, and done it since I was 10," he says. "It does feel a little bit like you're going into a trance sometimes, when it really works. When we were recording "Almost Here", Nigel was playing keyboards in one room and I was doing vocals in the control room, and we were both blubbing when we were trying to do the take."

The band should be a magnificent presence in 1998 - as long as Andy doesn't decide to go AWOL again, that is.

The Borderline, W1 (0171-734 2095) 11 Feb

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