The Fidelity Wars

Too Pure/Beggars Banquet

The ever-prolific Hefner returns with another collection of stunningly poignant songs. Is it Darren Hayman’s near-the-brink quaver, the deliciously pointy guitars and smoothly thumping bass, or the lyrics that reside between amused despondency and cautious euphoria? On “the Hymn for the Cigarettes” (Hefner has lots of hymns, to lots of things), we hear “she smoked on my bed because she thought it would annoy me,” only to be lectured by a litany of different brands and their associated memories: “Camel Lights remind me of my ex-girlfriend at Christmastime.”

Musically, the band seems to churn out the pop-perfect gems I’ve come to expect from scruffy Scottish trios. There’s nothing magical about the chords (Hefner carries an inventory of three or four), the guitar jangle, the bass line or the drumming, but all the elements combine to form a unique musical style; Hefner’s songs may not be breaking new ground in chords or structure, but they do end up being mighty hummable.

Listening to Hayman hitting those high notes is like watching someone reaching for an upper shelf on a teetering step stool. It’s a delicious thrill, and though the sound of it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Hefner’s hymns are simple and powerful, as touching as anything you may hear at a church. Sound samples and full lyrical discourse at http://www.hefnet.com

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