Stephen Holt formed Inspiral Carpets with his mate Graham Lambert way back in 1983, but this is his first appearance on one of their albums. How come? Well, Holt left the band on the cusp of their deal with Mute Records and 1990's Life, with new vocalist Tom Hingley reaping the rewards of the band's co-option into the nascent Madchester scene. Another three albums followed before the band split in 1994, the hiatus broken by a series of tours and retrospective releases from 2003 onwards. Hingley himself quit the band three years ago, leading to Holt's return and their first long-form collection of new material in two decades.
Those old enough to remember the Inspirals' early EPs will be delighted to discover a solid return to their early garage roots, with the likes of 'Spitfire' and 'You're So Good For Me' bursting out of the blocks; Clint Boon's over-driven keyboard (so much a part of their original appeal) delivers genuinely thrilling intros, before falling back into their knowing way with a pop song. 'A To Z Of My Heart' is catchy technicolour 60s dancefloor fodder and they even find time to squeeze in a cameo from John Cooper Clarke on 'Let You Down'. A little momentum is lost towards the end ('Forever Here' sounds, oddly, a lot like The Charlatans) but this is, by no means, a stain on their legacy. Indeed, Inspiral Carpets sounds a lot like a band re-finding their mojo after a long time away.