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Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls
Album: We Came Here To Work
Label: Good Deeds
Tracks: 10
Website: http://www.thewonderstuff.co.uk

So at long last, The Wonder Stuff's Miles Hunt and Erica Nockalls, finally get round to releasing their third studio duo album - and boy was it worth the wait! "We Came Here To Work" reflects the softer more personal acoustic side to the pairs work, and on this album in particular Hunt's trademark acute yet pragmatic lyricism is tempered by a degree of very real introspection. Ally this to Hunt and Nockalls never-failing ears for a great melody and the result is hugely impressive.

Here, the songs are enhanced by a production that is effortless in it's clarity. Simply put, the songs are afforded artistic space in which to flourish - no grandiloquent or rhapsodic wall-of-sound approach here, just quality music that is underscored by a deliciously bright acoustic sonance and string arrangements that, although beautifully understated, seem almost ethereally orchestral in their manifestation.

All topped off, of course, by THE voice. Yes, when he's fronting The Wonder Stuff there's brilliant bombast, big broad ballads and any other superlative you can think of beginning with the letter 'B' - but "We Came Here To Work" is a different beast altogether. This is Miles & Erica in contemplative mode, hence titles such as "The Good In The World", "Reassurance" and "Waste Some Time With Me", and the lyrical union that inevitably thematically ties it all together.

Album opener "When The Currency Was Youth" tells it's own story and is the perfect aperitif for what is to follow. A fond homage to deeds of derring do(n't) viewed sideways from the vantage point of experience and sobriety, a melodic slice of melancholy that sees lustrous acoustic guitar weave seamlessly with sumptuously subtle harmonies and addictively haunting chorus.

And therein lies the astute songwriting acumen that the duo possess in abundance, as "Master Of Circumstance" and "Witnesses" duly substantiate with more addictively mellifluous melody-making wrapped up neatly in song-shaped packages that surprise and delight at every turn.

"We Came Here To Work" isn't an album of hit-making songwriters resting on their laurels, it's a collection of songs that have been lovingly written and nurtured, recorded with care and attention to detail where the songs themselves are very much the stars of the show. Fond memories, regrets and high hopes are the over-riding motifs of an album that has the innate propensity to both ponder past glories and failures and yet, conversely, simultaneously lift the spirits. I have no idea how Miles & Erica are able to achieve that, but they do, and that's what makes this album so special. A spectacular and very much welcome return to our musical lives.

Ken Brown

www.squarerootspromotions.co.uk