Adrian Crowley A Northern Country

Sounding uncannily like Chris Martin, Adrian Crowley eschews the Coldplay singer’s pop sensibilities and instead finds inspiration in dark atmospheres, sour moods and a slow-paced approach to songs. Opener, "One Hundred Words for Snow,” sets the tone, with a Low-style backing beat, weeping strings and Crowley’s mournful baritone. Although the formula, and there is one, tends to wane, there are some real courageous and beautiful slices of miserable music, including the epic centrepiece, "Photographing Lightening Strikes,” with its drawn-out conclusion that includes a cacophony of sax, horns and strings. The driving nature and atonal noises are unsettling, allowing Crowley to truly get across his feeling of unease, while also adding a vibrant loose energy to the dour proceedings. In terms of the perfect soundtrack to a large bottle of red wine, "Great Salt Lake” comes rather close, with its chorus of "You could cry/a great salt lake” just acidic enough to not bog down the song completely in dramatics. Crowley could be equated to an especially depressed Richard Hawley or a post-divorce Chris Martin, but this wonderfully idiosyncratic album easily rates high in the small canon of misery. His misfortune is our blessing. (Ba Da Bing!)