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Curse of Lono Curse of Lono
Album: Severed
Label: Submarine Cat
Tracks: 10

Following on from last year's EP debut, Felix Bechtolsheimer's latest project following the demise of Hey Negrita return with a full album's worth of punchy Americana although fans might feel a little shortchanged in that three of the EP's tracks are reprised here, campfire ballad 'He Takes My Place', the Alabama 3 styled 'London Rain' and the cosmic country rush of opener 'Five Miles'. Even so, that leaves seven new numbers (albeit some were written over a 14-year period) , the first of which, 'Pick Up The Pieces', is an infectious thigh-slapper with what might be described as an Adam and the Ants drum pattern backdropping buzzing guitars, handclaps and Bechtolsheimer's airily treble vocals.

'Each Time You Hurt' shifts the mood to a midtempo ballad that kind of marries Simon & Garfunkel with Johnny Cash, followed on by the sparse slide blues intro that gives way to the catchy melodic hooks of the tempo-shifting five-minute 'Just My Head', a song essentially about being caught between who you are living up to who you've made yourself ("It's hard not to drink like a man, when the ghosts that surround you insist that you can") that's likely to draw comparisons to The Lumineers and Fleet Foxes alike

Fast forward over the other two EP tracks and you come to 'Send For The Whisky', another highlight laden with hooks and a massive singalong chorus ("Cause there's no use in crying / When you're hanging by a thread / When the curse of darkness / hasn't swallowed you yet") in service of a song about addiction and a distinct musical contrast to the minimal reverb and brief organ break of the resigned "All I Got", another number guessingly with its roots on the singer's past heroin habit.

A droning churchy pump organ introduces the penultimate 'Welcome Home', a fine slice of anti-romance about choosing to get high (on drink or drugs) over love that might let you down that again has a huge chorus, although the line "Love in your cup won't mean shit when you die" probably precludes extensive airplay. It closes with the gradually swelling Don't Look Down, an end of relationship number that balances its notes of regret ("Winds are howling round my heart") with acceptance ("Maybe we're better off apart/If that smile's not all that you're faking") rather than tear the other person apart by not leaving. Darker lyrically than the music would suggest, it's a tremendous piece of work. The EP promised great things to come and this delivers them in spades.

Mike Davies