Trembling Blue Stars The Last Holy Writer

History has a habit of repeating itself for Bobby Wratten. During his time in the Field Mice, they were dismissed as "just another Sarah Records band” when they were actually making some of the best indie pop around. So, it is almost fitting that a new album by the Trembling Blue Stars is accompanied by eye rolling and questions about how one person can be so unlucky in love. That was particularly true of 2005’s The Seven Autumn Flowers, which felt almost like a parody of an earlier record, at times, because of its unrelenting "woe is me” mentality. Does that mean that The Last Holy Writer, the band’s sixth album, deserves a similar fate? Maybe not, because Wratten does sound a bit more upbeat this time round, and while he doesn’t stray too far from the template he’s been perfecting during the last decade, it doesn’t sound as laboured as before. Some of that is due to Ian Catt’s keyboards and production, which are reminiscent of ’80s New Order, but in a good way that drives songs that would ordinarily drift wistfully. It all comes together on "Idyllwild,” where Beth Azry takes the lead on a glorious pop song of longing about failed love, naturally. The slower, more melancholy songs still drag their heels, and ten minutes could easily be trimmed from the album’s running time without doing any damage. It would probably make it a stronger record because when it comes to jangly indie pop, Wratten has next to no equals. (Elefant)