The Minus 5 - Killingsworth
To tell you the truth, this album won't go about breaking any musical barriers. Not that it matters.
The basic set up is guitar, piano, male vocals with female backing and even a bit of accordion. But then it's got that undulating twanging tone at the back - you know the sort you hear on country records? I don't know what instrument it is so that's the best I can do to explain. But it's heavy with the emotion that comes through in every tune - somewhat dark, somewhat broken, somewhat beautiful. This is grown up countrified pop with a vintage folk feel. The Minus 5's constantly changing line-up frequently features R.E.M's guitarist Peter Buck, and you can hear the influence. Or rather, you can feel it.
Some of the songs - "I would rather sacrifice you" is about sacrificing a loved one for the sake of religion, but I'm sure it's ironic because "Ambulance Dancehall" talks of "Christian killers (blowing) up the surgeon", but it's hard to tell as each track is executed with such emotional sincerity.
The Minus 5 make songs which are watchful and observant, mature and truthful. They tell stories which reflect poetically on the bleakness of the human condition without explicit self pity. They question hope but with an energy which never dashes it all to pieces. "Big Beat up Moon" tells of a lonely girl in an apartment block. “Gash in the Cocoon” is about home no longer feeling like home. The album begins with a song about heartbreak - "The Dark Hand of Contagion", and ends, suitably with "Tonight you're buying me a drink, Bub".
But Killingsworth is a set of deep, wistful, beautiful, dimly lit tracks. They aim for the emotional mark and hit it. It won't make you cry, but it will cry with you. It won't make you laugh, but it might make you smile. There's something very special going on here.