Sleeve With Hearts

For several years now they've lurked in the shadows, eking out a hushed, incandescent, mournful folk....

For several years now they’ve lurked in the shadows, eking out a hushed, incandescent, mournful folk. Like spirits of the forest, theirs was a slight, deliciously fragile magic; their previous two albums scurrying from lo-fi boughs, so skittish and otherworldly you feared they’d melt under focus.

A mercifully brief period [I]sans [/I]label brings us to ‘Sleeve With Hearts’, [a]Broken Dog[/a]’s third, and finest, album. And while the songs still feel hazy, as if their melodies were drawn from some waking dream, the duo have rarely sounded so well defined. No longer do the songs sound as if they are having to traverse some prohibitive crisis of confidence to reach their audience, although many, ‘Stranger’ in particular, recall Nick Drake lost in some immaculately opiated glide.

The instrumentation this time around stretches wider, from piercing strokes of brass on ‘Tracks’, to the lush orchestration of the sublime ‘Third In Space’. The songwriting, too, is noticeably more accessible, more ‘developed’, though these things are always relative – the best of this album sounding like Belly‘s more obtuse meanderings, further obscured.

The magic of [a]Broken Dog[/a], however, withstands these new developments; Martine Roberts‘ chillingly pure vocal still sounds like leaves floating on a river on an eerily still summer’s afternoon. Immerse yourself.