Montgolfier Brothers Seventeen Stars

Such is the exclusivity of British misery that it seemingly possesses its own sound - of eroding architecture, of ceaseless rain, of modest characters sitting at home in resignation to their own modest fate. Manchester has itself been the capital of disconsolate pop for over 20 years (Joy Division and the Smiths being the most obvious examples). Add now to that lineage the Montgolfier Brothers, whose debut album is an exquisitely beautiful elegy to a lifetime of misspent opportunities. Mark Tranmer and Roger Quigley, who are the Brothers, are those rare sort of songwriters who know where dignity, where luxury, lies in self pity. Not once does the relentless inward gaze of these ten songs become exhausting, also because their melodies (owing less to fellow Mancunians, more to Felt and early Momus) are as wraparound comforting as an autumn sweater. That "Between Two Points" might be the saddest song ever to come out of a city where competition is anything but thin, is all the more reason to hold this pair in hushed awe. Clutch this to your chest and savour the season's turning leaves; like the hopes sung about here, they won't last. (Independent)