Hefner

Boxing Hefner

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It might seem a tad presumptuous for a band of Hefner's modest stature to release a B-sides/rarities collection after only two proper albums. Unlike the Smiths during their short career, Hefner often includes its A-sides on the albums; however, like the Smiths, Hefner saves some of its best material for the flip sides, which is a shame for Americans who have to shell out import dollars for a few extra songs. Until now, that is. Although recorded over a span of roughly two years, Boxing Hefner hardly comes off as a mere compilation or, worse, a stopgap while the band works on its third album. Instead, it's the band's most consistent offering yet. Maybe that's because the rhythm section of Antony Harding (drums) and John Morrison (bass) has tightened its playing considerably on the more recent material ("Mary Lee," "Hymn for the Things We Didn't Do"), allowing singer/guitarist Darren Hayman to explore his pet lyrical concerns (lust, unrequited love, "Christian Girls") with more attention to detail ("My heart is big and swollen/and my lips are torn and bruised from having fun"), without having to carry the band. Harding and Morrison prove just as adept at Cure-ish angularity ("Pull Yourself Together") as they are at feigning a hoedown ("Twisting Mary's Arm"). In a word: brilliant. In eight words: Damned if Hefner hasn't made its Louder Than Bombs.

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