Lesser-spotted? The term doesn’t quite do justice to Scott Kannberg, who here emerges from hibernation for his first record in eight years. Last seen during the Pavement reunion shows in 2010, the man they call Spiral Stairs picks up from where the previous year’s The Real Feel left off, only with a fuller sound and greater sense of purpose – at least partly thanks to collaborators Kelley Stoltz, The National's Matt Berninger and Broken Social Scene’s Justin Peroff.
In terms of arrangements, this means mournful swells of brass, as on Trams (Stole My Love), and a more pronounced swagger to his well-established Fall worship (No Comparison bears more than a passing resemblance to Mark E. Smith’s mid-80s period). Lyrically, he veers from Scotland-centric goof-offs like Dundee Man to more poignant passages, referencing both death and his relationship with his daughter in straightforward yet subtly affecting terms.
Generally, though, this is an album of unobtrusive indie strum-alongs: Doris and The Daggers never quite explodes from the speakers, nor does it set your soul soaring with melodies to be bawled across fields and arenas. Choruses were never Kannberg’s strong point; instead he specialises in a cool restraint that’s more soothing endorphin than sheer adrenaline, and while it’s hard to imagine the world beyond Pavement fanboys flocking to pick this one up, its gentle charms are plentiful if you’re willing to let them find you.
Listen to: Angel Eyes, Emoshuns