As the band themselves declare, "one helluva lot has happened" to Shipping News since their terrific 2005 album Flies The Field. With founder guitarist Jason Noble currently battling cancer, this already frequently introspective band could have been forgiven for retreating even further into themselves.
Instead they've resurfaced in apparent good spirits with a self-confessed "rowdy, aggressive and adolescent" new outlook. This latest release was recorded entirely live and features an unexpected but consistent blend of old and new material. It's a gritty, crisp-sounding collection that sits brilliantly somewhere in-between Slint and Fugazi (2003's brief Radiohead fixation having evidently waned).
Do You Remember The Avenues? is a tense, confrontational barrage of bass hooks whilst Bad Eve is the only real trace of previous melancholy majesty. Despite the fact that some of the material is already out there, One Less Heart To Fear is so unflinchingly gripping that the chances are there won't be many complaints. [Chris Cusack]