The Hepburns

How the Fallen Are Mighty

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The Hepburns continue in their easygoing happy/sad indie-in-an-'80s way with How the Fallen Are Mighty -- any album that starts off with a breezy half-minute instrumental that sounds like it should be the opening credits music for a breezy BBC travelogue from 1973 has to have something going for it. If the band's portrayals of understated love affairs and entanglements often feel either more pleasant and wryly engaging than whip-smart or suddenly universal, it's all done with an attitude and focus that are never less than enjoyable. Matt Jones' singing matches the performances very well, at once understated and yet having a bit of gentle yearning. The occasional harmonies -- sometimes turning into a massed chorale approach, as on "Delores" -- sweeten the impact. Having a song called "Nobody Loves Me" that is a third-person portrait rather than a first-person one is actually an inspired touch, especially after Morrissey seemed to corner the latter market. The arrangements benefit from extra keyboards and other instruments adding a gentle grandeur to songs like "One More Notch on the Bedpost"; the sax break on "The Help" not only helps the understated ska rhythm but adds its own fun energy. "Persona Non Grata," meanwhile, sounds like a great lost Sparks song from 1975 -- for that reason alone, How the Fallen Are Mighty deserves a little attention.

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