Spare yet astonishingly powerful at the same time, TKP's second full release remains an unjustly ignored highlight of post-punk rock, building tension in ways not far removed from the likes of Joy Division and the Comsat Angels, but too, building with their own distinct, restrained qualities, heightened by the instrumental variety throughout, from mandolin to electric viola. The recording's claustrophobic feel resulting from its four-track origins could earn the album a 'lo-fi' classification if it weren't for the fact that TKP relentlessly avoid the sloppy clichés that such a category might call to mind. Beard avoids conventional drum rhythms at many points, relying instead on odd percussion boxes and Peter Jefferies' careful, imposing piano to support the low end along with the bass. Beginning with the ominous instrumental "Prelude," with Peter handling keyboards and brother Graeme on plucked violin, the album wends a haunting way through fractured lyrical portraits of existential dilemmas, eschewing "grand statements" in favor of intimate portraits, like the ex-party goer in "The Horrible Hour," well-sung by adjunct member Chris Matthews. Though the Jefferies brothers perform just about everything on most tracks, with Peter taking the lion's share of the vocals, various others add contributions from time to time, including "smashing of beer crates" on "East Meets West," which starts calmly enough but has a frightening, though low-key midsection with sudden screams and other buried noises. Quite wisely, not everything is completely awash in gloom. "An Open Denial" for instance, while not a knee-slapper by any means, captures the ear with its flat-out beauty, Peter's deep yet wistful vocals matching well with his piano as Graeme adds shading from violin, guitar, and bass. It could almost be something from Bark Psychosis or even late Talk Talk years before its time.
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