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A touch on the gloomy side, that Jon Crosby feller...

A touch on the gloomy side, that Jon Crosby feller. "I can't find anything/Except a void inside", he coos on the towering 'I Don't Have Anything'. But hey, we all get days like that, right?

Later, in the slightly less chirpy 'Land Of Shame', Jon reveals, "I'm on vacation in the land of shame/When the pigs are flying/And it's freezing cold in Hell". Look on the bright side, old chap. Some places are much nicer outside peak season.

Alright, skewering overblown adolescent self-pity in

20-something Californian alt-rock is like shooting fish in a barrel. But what saves Crosby from the pits of navel-gazing wank is his sense of rock history and grasp of pop melody. His voice nods to Robert Smith, Dave Gahan and even Jim Morrison, while his breadth of arrangements encompasses Bulgarian choirs and Indian string orchestras. All are anchored to strong, well-crafted tunes which never slip their moorings and drift off into the bottomless swamp of New Grave pomp.

Vast's second album is how the last Nine Inch Nails record might have sounded if Trent Reznor loved Abba more than Ministry, tenderness more than torture. Crosby might be floating in an eternal vacuum of godless desolation, but his commercial instincts - and love for classic early '80s goth-rock - should carry him across to the sunny beaches of acclaim and success. Which, naturally, he will hate.

Stephen Dalton

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