23 October 2000
Cousteau is not the first or last bunch of young men to have lit upon Scott Walker's epically lachrymose solo albums as a design for living. However, very few other bands have trudged in Walker's weary footsteps with quite this much poise. Cousteau is possessed of a confidence rare in debut albums, and the really good news is that Cousteau is often nearly as great as Cousteau clearly think it is. Their stock-in-trade is the grand pop ballad, a form that has been sadly neglected as too many new groups have drifted towards irony to justify a fondness for strings, sweeping tunes, and heartfelt lyrical sentiment (The Divine Comedy, for example). The songs on this album are, without exception, lovely–"The Last Good Day of the Year," indeed, is worthy of being sung by Glen Campbell–and Cousteau plays it resolutely straight, falling in behind the alternately soaring and swooping vocals of Liam McKahey with a versatility that would do either the Bad Seeds or Tindersticks proud. –Andrew Mueller
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