The second album from Cambridge based three piece The British IBM, consolidating their reputation with a new collection of thoughtful and distinctive songs. ‘All the Time’ is a low-key opener, strummed acoustic guitar and plaintive vocal from IBM songwriter Adrian Killens, it hangs in the air full of regret and disappointment. Electric guitar and glockenspiel fade in and out, perfectly setting the tone for the atmosphere of the album.
‘Hey Mikie’ is a favourite of mine; this one rolls along well with an infectious hookline belying acerbic lyrics. As the album proceeds it does not try to emulate some of the rockier dynamics of their debut but there are many more subtle pleasures on offer here.
Strings are used to great effect on the song of resignation ‘Nothing Ever Lasts That Long’ and resurface on many of the later tracks. It is good to hear some political ideas in ‘Evolution’ but it is the next track ‘We Were the Stars’ which is the pivotal summit of the album, a measured stately ballad about decline and ending, featuring massed voices and strings and also the subject of a smart retro animated promotion video. As a companion to ‘the British IBM’ title track on their first album it stands up well.
‘Nothing’ is bass driven with an insistent guitar line, then the final track is ‘What More Can I Say’, just guitar, voice and cello, ending suddenly.
Each of the eleven tracks has been meticulously produced to get the construction just right, although some of the lyrical concerns may seem a bit downbeat, the layers carefully reveal and sink into your consciousness with subsequent listens.