The Horrible Crowes- Elsie

There have been ripples of excitement that began as soon as Brian Fallon and Ian Perkins let the world in on the storm they've been brewing- better known as The Horrible Crowes. It's taken a few few months but at last, 'Elsie' is with us and she's absolutely beautiful.

This is not a Gaslight spin-off. To think that 'Elsie' could be an 'Angel' to 'Buffy'... or worse still a 'Joey' to 'Friends' is an unnecessary shudder to be sent down your spine. The twelve track offering is the coming together of two creative, music-loving personalities who have put together an emotionally charged record of such strength that it is more than capable of standing alone. It's dark and enveloping, but more like the comfort of a candle-lit room than a place of bad feeling. It's atmospheric without ever becoming overwhelmingly so- songs like the gently blues-soulful 'Sugar' can be followed by the defiantly bold and masculine pace of 'Behold The Hurricane' with great ease. That whisky-splattered bluesy sound of the south does reappear at points on the album, really kicking you in the teeth with the swaggering 'Mary Ann'. It's a style that the Crowes pull off exceptionally well.

However, this album really shines when the gravelly sound of Brian Fallon's vocals and the enormous swell of the guitar-driven instrumentals can be tempered into something so tender. 'Ladykiller' and 'Crush' achieve a sense of benevolence and romance from a place of testosterone enforced strength- that trademark growl all of a sudden sounding as gentle as a loving whisper. It's a pleasant surprise in the same way Tom Waites can become so gruffly beautiful. The astonishingly spiritual experience of 'I Believe Jesus Brought Us Together' is inspired by more than the title alone. As in the opening track 'Last Rites', there is a presence of soul in the soft inclusion of organ and touches of piano that sparkle like stars in an inky blue sky. As the album ends on the bizarrely soothing sound of a distant busy highway, you are given a moment to fully appreciate the level of musicianship demonstrated in this record. 'Elsie' is a moving and emotive glimpse into the most comforting place of darkness you will have heard for some time.