My Latest Novel
Wolves
Bella Union
2006
B



it should be no surprise that a band wielding acoustic guitars, cello, gentle vocals, and a name like My Latest Novel clearly have an album of excellent twee-pop in them. What is a surprise, is that their debut, Wolves, is almost it.

You’d have to be hard-hearted to resist the tender romance of “The Job Mr. Kurtz Done.” Especially when Deveney says with disarming wonder “And then we’re sleeping together / No, not like that / That would ruin everything” and the happiest of marches blossoms in response. Meanwhile “Sister Sneaker Sister Soul” is the best six-minute epic that Belle & Sebastian circa “Lazy Line Painter Jane” never wrote, propelled by wit and longing, with elegant cello at the forefront. It does end up kicking up a bit of a storm before dropping back to Deveney for a satisfying conclusion, but it’s still a long way from threatening.

Deveney and the band don’t simply stand in a long line of softly-spoken romantics, though. My Latest Novel are at their best when tempering the bright nature of Wolves with steely darkness. “Ghost in the Gutter” creeps teasingly slowly before shuddering into action with dramatic clanging guitars and wailing cello. When the song eventually makes its way to Deveney’s whispered vocals, it’s like Jarvis Cocker spying on you all over again. No less disturbing is “Learning Lego,” which brings in the rest of the band and a choir for a bellowed chorus of “pulling out my hair, crushed by plastic lego men.”

Best of all is closer “The Reputation of Ross Francis.” It’s the bold tale of a cocky, long-time miscreant trying to wheedle his way into heaven, complete with fantastic punchline. Sure, it’s played with a wink and a celebratory smile befitting Francis himself, but when it opens up into the huge pleading chorus, it suddenly becomes an utterly convincing portrait of a broken man pleading with all that he has left.



Reviewed by: Iain Forrester
Reviewed on: 2006-07-11
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