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CD review: Randolph's Leap, Clumsy Knot (Lost Map)

Adam Ross, the Jonathan Richman of Scottish indie, is as macho as any man singing falsetto to glockenspiel accompaniment can be. Across a raft of EPs, singles and mini compilations, the epithet "twee" has stuck to his music - either solo or in the ensemble arrangements of Randolph's Leap - like a dictionary definition. However, his band's "proper" debut album reveals a deeper, more melancholy side to his songwriting talent.

There's plenty here for long-time fans of the fun stuff too, including pepped-up re-workings of old favourites (note the mocking guffaw of the trombone riff on News) and those trademark snatches of self-aware lyrics ("I know people like me like to judge people like me," Ross sings on opener Unnatural).

Like King Creosote (before the creation of Lost Map Records, Randolph's Leap were veteran friends of Fence), Ross knows how to conceal a barbed sentiment inside the twist of a rhyme and a cottonwool melody, or bury a certain sadness beneath the surface humour of a song such as Weatherman.

Black & Blue is the standout on this side of Ross's writing. It see-saws back and forth between its chords at a Beck-slacker shuffle, never allowing the wordplay to divert attention away from the emotion at the heart of the song.

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