Loud Family Attractive Nuisance

Attractive Nuisance is a welcome return to form for one of rock's most literate and intellectual bands, after the wilfully arty glop of 1998's Days For Days. Like leader Scott Miller's AN's lyrics and music are both incredibly dense - only revealing themselves over the course of repeated listening. Every time you play it there'll be a phrase - either lyrically, musically, or both - that'll jump out at you, leaving you wondering how the hell you never noticed something like that before. That said, only four of the 12 tracks have Miller solo writing credits and one has a solo credit for keyboardist Alison Faith Levy. Factor that into the equation, along with the fact that this is the same line-up as the disappointing Days For Days, and it's clear that the band is gelling remarkably well, not to mention rocking a little harder in spots than they ever have before. Levy takes a couple of lead vocals and is more than slightly reminiscent of Kirsty MacColl, thanks to the combo of smoke and clarity. And check out the little musical geegaws that Ray adds, like the stuttering drum roll in "Nice When I Want Something." It's not quite as brilliant as 1996's Interbabe Concern, but if, as rumoured, it's the band's swan song, at least they're going out with a complete winner. (Alias)