The Something Rain, for The Guardian. Its an affecting record, streaked with jazz and loss and intimacy, and Stuart Staples' sad, rich, baritone poetry, which I think has the same kind of andro magic that I hear in Antony Hegarty.
What I didn't have wordcount/space to say in the review:
The 9 min spoken-word opener 'Chocolate' (perfomed by David Boulter) felt initially problematic to me. It essentially ends with a MTF joke, which I think, despite being one of the worst, hackneyed transphobic punchlines, is in this song's context an unexpectedly tender (if clumsy) comment on love, acceptance and human connection, and about how precious that is when life can be so sad and ridiculous and expect so much of us. It's a shabby, ragged kind of love song (cheap pints, woodchip bedsits, Fox biscuits) and totally lacking the high jinx comedy of Cukor's films, but it made think of the queertastic outro scene in Some Like It Hot when Jack Lemon's honeytrap drag act (which by the end of the film had evolved in to a genuine trans ID) is revealed to his magnificently nonchalant millionaire lover as they ride off in to the sunset in a shiny-white fancy speedboat, with machine gun gangsters on their tail and Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis (in his own Cary Grant drag) making out in the back seat, the uniting factor between the film and song being not the punchline but the reveal that follows it, subverting that "SHE is a HE!" pantomime in to an act of trans acceptance/empowerment.
Grief knits the album together, but I found the erotic instances the most exciting, particularly 'Show Me Everything'. Tight percussion, strip tease bassline, faintly sleazy organ notes and charged, ambivalent desire, glazed with numbness ("latex on my fingertips, we touch through glass, we feel nothing") but wanting and hoping ("We could take those stones, we could build something") to feel everything.