On debut effort ‘Nothing Isn’t Beautiful’, London’s Those Unfortunates trade in a kooky mixture of downbeat bedroom musings and existential wondering that makes for a sweetly melancholic listen. Tempered with a subtle off-beat humour, Those Unfortunates rattle through a set of 13 pithy lo-fi pop songs that only last a collective 35 minutes.
Clearly influenced by Postcard Records alumni like Aztec Camera and Orange Juice, Those Unfortunates take a singular strand of early ’80s British jangle-pop and temper it with the twee, playful attitude of Belle And Sebastian. Musical whimsy is the order of the day here but lyrically the album is often less cheery; the rambunctiousness of ‘A Question For Mr Richardson’ belies the song’s tale of frustration and inability to move forward, whilst opening track ‘The Consolations of the Life I Know’ is dejected in its sense of frustration at the slow pace of life for its narrator.
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Elsewhere, ‘Nothing Isn’t Beautiful’ is more hopeful, at times even bordering on the optimistic. ‘A Song For Brampton Court’ is deeply evocative in its descrption of a contented early evening sunset; a charming snapshot of a time and place that, though far removed for listeners, is surprisingly potent. The jaunty folk of album closer ‘Two Small Windows’ may only last a minute but gets plenty done in it’s brief run-time and the tune’s simple charm is more than enough to end the album on a far cheerier note than it starts.
‘Nothing Isn’t Beautiful’ predominantly trades in brisk, bare-bones indie pop stripped of all but the core essentials. Brief to the point of fleeting, ‘Nothing Day’s 75 seconds is just enough time for the band to make their point and then get out. ‘Repertory Man’ likewise meshes immediate structuring and hooky presentation with an appealing palette of acoustic guitar and yearning, melodic bass.
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Those Unfortunates have clearly studied their melancholic indie-folk-come-jangle-pop influences closely and they’re well versed in what they do. While ‘Nothing Isn’t Beautiful’ is a well crafted example of the style, it is one that could benefit from a more varied approach. The lyrical and musical stylings are somewhat too consistent throughout the 13 tracks, resulting in a record that feels rather familiar to anyone with a passing knowledge of the band’s influences.
Even if it’s an album not without flaw, ‘Nothing Isn’t Beautiful’ sees Those Unfortunates lovingly craft an amiable jangle-folk album that may wear its influence on its sleeve but does it with such a warm charm that the results are hard to argue with.