Right from the outset, Bridie Monds-Watson’s second album sets out its stall in no uncertain terms, and not just with that blunt title.

Soak

Opener “all aboard” features a train conductor telling passengers, “Sustenance will not be available. Please surrender any faith, aspiration or optimism.”

You’d think that, as one of the youngest Mercury Prize nominees, the Derry Girl would have more to smile about. Instead, like so many musicians, success has taught her that, as Crème Brulée’s Les McQueen once observed, “It’s a shit business.”

The thing is, though Monds-Watson’s subject matter is dark, her voice is strikingly charismatic, bounding between girlishly charming, playfully helium-fuelled, and heartbreakingly world-weary. Her melodies, too, are often addictively upbeat. Admittedly, Crying Your Eyes Out is a brittle, piano-led ballad whose redemption is kept for its climax, and Valentine Shmalentine’s like a choir-friendly Beta Band. But Get Set Go Kid, like a lost Smiths tune, is both tragic and uplifting, and Maybe’s Johnny Marr guitars recall Rose Elinor Dougall’s earlier albums.

So when, on Everybody Loves You, Monds-Watson squeals “I’m a fucking livewire”, before leading us to a swooning, romantic finale, you know she ain’t wrong.

8/10

Wyndham Wallace

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