Would-Be-Goods Brief Lives

If only reality were as colourful and as laced with intrigue as the lives of the people who populate Would-Be-Goods’ songs, all of them entangled in romantic dramas and living in, if not opulent wealth, at least the most dignified squalor. Since arguably becoming the crown jewel of the enigmatic, short-lived él Records in 1988, group mastermind Jessica Arah’s songs have sprung from her idealisation of various fantasy worlds. "When I was growing up, I spent most of my time reading,” she explains from her London home. "Fiction seemed more satisfying than real life, and often more real. Someone wrote to me saying he thought I was trying to ‘project my ideas and feelings onto my songs’ characters in a Baudelairean way.’” Brief Lives is only the third Would-Be-Goods album in over 13 years and is better even than their cult-classic debut, The Camera Loves Me. Featuring as near an indie-pop super group as has ever been assembled (including Heavenly’s Peter Momtchiloff and Razorcuts’ Struan Robertson), it trades the previous albums’ hermetic snow globe polish for a rougher, livelier sound that, in terms of quintessential Englishness, is closer to Village Green than "White Cliffs of Dover.” A worthy companion to your Magnetic Fields and Belle and Sebastian collections — a ten-year wait for another of these might not be unreasonable. (Matinee)