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The could've-beens, should've-beens are often twice as fascinating as those who get what they want and do what's expected...

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8 / 10 The could've-beens, should've-beens are often twice as fascinating as those who get what they want and do what's expected. Through no particular fault of their own, Longpigs must be the most admirably misguided, misunderstood and messed-up case in point.

Too unhinged to be Britpop, too old and dangerous to fit the corporate indie bill, Longpigs came, saw and never-quite-conquered back in 1996. There were the copious drugs, the endless tour of America that made them want to kill each other, a drummer who found God and left the band and then, of course, there was singer Crispin Hunt. Some adored his razor-tongue and disarming charm, but he was just too outspoken and, well, plain posh for most to take. His voice could make the hairs bristle on the back of your neck or it could crack hoarsely from too much, erm, partying. It was his lyrics that caught passing seconds of despair and ecstatic joy like a photographic diary... but soon dried up when he came to write the follow-up to debut 'The Sun Is Often Out'.

/img/Longpigs1099.jpg The eventual result is truly Crispin's album and one that encapsulates the ragged, unpredictable and indulgent majesty of a band who like to keep everyone on their toes. If you're expecting an album of 'She Said's, in fact, you'll be sorely disappointed. Any choruses here are sketchy, bleary-eyed affairs with sore heads and broken hearts.

While everyone between The Rolling Stones, Radiohead and Suede are acknowledged and abused, love songs are complicated by clouds of seediness and obsession. Indeed, the stunning opening trio of songs alone - 'The Frank Sonata' (ahem), 'Blue Skies' and 'Gangsters' - manage more stifling devotion, claustrophobia and hopeless desperation than most bands could cram in a whole career. Because Longpigs never, ever do anything by halves.

They might let you down at the last second, certainly. And they might never achieve what this beautiful album of ugly love songs promises. But at least they stand their best chance yet of converting the tediously perennial cynics. So shut up and get used to it.

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