January : I Heard Myself In You

There's a good reason why sad songs say so much...

There’s a good reason why sad songs say so much. Whether heartbreak leaves you in the kind of catatonic trance that even makes the ordering of comfort-pizza an impossible task, or has you spinning into a verbal frenzy, hanging on the phone rather than spending a second alone, those are the songs that are here to help. In the depths of inarticulacy, they offer the best words and notes to express your misery; as you gabble incoherently, they shape wretchedness into something aesthetically manageable.

With their debut album, January clearly aspire to emotional cogency, striving for the intensity that belonged to The Verve and the veracity that’s been staked out in alt-country territory. Unfortunately, this translates as shoegazing in the desert, and that’s not a package holiday you’d rush to book.

Singer Simon McLean can write affectingly, yet the delivery shows the world of difference between being priceless and being precious. The propulsive love-logic of the excellent ‘Contact Light’, the Her Space Holiday doppelgänger ‘Through Your Skies’ or the echo-and-fade of ‘Fuse’ cannot conceal the mundanity that settles like sediment at the heart of this album: vocals that Nick Drake could knock out cold, a reliance on displaying whole ‘feelings’ rather than placing them on the dissection tray, the [I]whine ordinaire[/I] of ‘Sequence Start’ and ‘All Time’.

Sad songs say so much. If you’ve stopped listening,

however, they’re just talking

to themselves.

Victoria Segal