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I'M BEING GOOD - "Family Snaps"

Britain’s best kept secret, I’m Being Good, release their long awaited fourth album 'Family Snaps' on Jonson Family records.

The Brighton-based band is lead by guitarist/vocalist Andrew Clare, who de-tunes his instrument to give a Sonic Youth-ish quality to the songs. The other members of the band are guitarist/drummer David Ewan Campbell, guitarist/drummer Tom Barnes and new member Stuart O’Hare on bass.

The album opens with ‘Owl Service’, one of two songs on the album to have featured on the band's last Peel session in 2003. It’s a post-rock instrumental which has a strong flavour of Slint to it, going from quiet guitar noodling to thrashy musical attacks in an effortless flow.

The next song, ‘Last Few Days’, was also featured in said Peel session. This track is one of the most like Sonic Youth on the album. O’Hare’s bass line weaves through heavy layers of distortion; Clare’s vocals are full of rage. The song also has the first of many stop-start moments on the album.

‘Crash Land of Nod’ sounds like a de-tuned Pavement, while ‘Sixteen Children’s Eyes’ is one of the Family Snaps’ more poppy moments, making it one of the first tracks to really jump out at you and get stuck in your head. There is a sweetness to the song, but also an underlying menace; a characteristic found in past I’m Being Good tracks.

‘Hell is Small’ features guest vocalist Makiko Mori. The song is another example of the softer side of I’m Being Good, but the lyric "How we exploit them…" again reveals that not all is as sweet as it seems.

‘Asymetrical Twins’ is a real stand-out on the album. With a pounding bass-line reminiscent of Arab on Radar and a slightly bizarre vocal, the song is like a punk track that’s been captured by art students for use in freakish experiments.

‘Hey Sheriff’ is on of the most skewed sounding tracks on the album, the guitars de-tuned to a degree where it almost sounds like the band don’t really know how to play, but still somehow managing to sound pretty damn good. It tries to become something close to usual at the end, but doesn’t quite get there.

‘Armchair Thriller’ is another stomping good track, the band going at it hammer and tongs. This track is equal parts punk, metal and post-rock, and it sounds fantastic.

The album finishes with ‘Fuck Your Flag’. This is a slow, Mogwai-esque piece of music, and again has that false fragility I’m Being Good do so well. It also has more false endings than ‘Lord of the Rings; The Return of the King’, and probably goes on about 8 minutes longer than is really necessary. For those who do persevere through the full 16 minutes of the track, there is a nice tinkly noise at the end as a reward for your efforts.

'Family Snaps' is a brilliant collection of alternative songs and a welcome return from these musical stalwarts, who have now been soldiering on for some 12 years. It pains me to see how little recognition a lot of bands in the UK get, especially when they are as inventive and imaginative as I’m Being Good. Do them and yourself a favour, and buy this record.

Review from Penny Black Music -