Laurence Arnold, Comes With a Smile, Summer 2004

I’m glad I have this record. Not just because it’s good, but because it solves the mystery of who to contact and say ‘thanks’ to. The last Northern Alliance album, ‘Hope in Little Things’, came into my possession from I know not where, and the press release went the way of most pieces of paper I’m given (put somewhere ‘safe’). I can’t even remember why I liked the record; it just floated by like a breezy afternoon and seemed the perfect music to watch time pass to. ‘Disaster for Scotland’ is even more so than the last. The gloriously titled The Patron Saint of Sore Throats threatens to turn into a Neutral Milk Hotel romp, but just skulks around like that agonising point of the day between breakfast and lunch. Preston Falls doesn’t do much to fill you up, just drifts by as if it were steam from a coffee cup. Minutes elapse before Say Hello to the Dolomite Hills ambles through the day, gently chugging along with a jaunty chorus yet still unwilling to break into a sweat. The Yo La Tengo chugging of Year of the Underdog wafts by and there’s a hint of Stratford 4 in there on the following Let’s Form a Union. There’s also a touch of their countrymen Ballboy in the melancholy depths of Ally’s Tartan Army, which turns a football sing-along into a tearjerker.  Checking in at twenty-eight minutes, the record won’t help you bridge the raging stream of a long day, but it will provide a great snack while you mull over a coffee.

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