Trembling Blue Stars

Broken by Whispers

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Bob Wratten is down again and he wants you to revel in it. For more than a decade Wratten and his bands like the Field Mice and Trembling Blue Stars have turned his lovesick misery into music to mope by -- and Broken by Whispers is his latest paean to pain. Just look at the titles: "She Just Couldn't Stay," "Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise," "Fragile," and "I No Longer Know Anything." This is music to listen to when you're either very depressed, in order to feel the camraderie, or when you're very happy, in order to mellow out. At first, Wratten sounds like a whiner, but closer reflection reveals an astute painter of melancholic scenes. The best song, "Sometimes I Still Feel the Bruise," may leave a mark in your head for weeks.

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