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Absent Friends

Much more understated than albums such as Fin de Siecle and Cassanova, Absent Friends shows Neil in slightly meditative muse.

There's plenty of classical strings here and plenty of mood changes and styles, but perhaps it lacks the ingenuity of some of the other albums.

And maybe it takes slightly longer to get acquainted with what's on offer here - not instantly accessible but nonetheless with the same trademark originality.

Certainly Charmed Life, a song to his daughter, is poignant, beautiful and optimistic "I always seem to land upon my feet." He states adding that he snatches victories from the jaws of defeat. This is a real joy of a song that verges into vaudeville towards the end.

Elsewhere other songs seem to be heading into mediocrity only to be saved by choruses.

Lyrically it's another strong set with the title track particularly interesting and who else would get away with using words like peripatetically "My Imaginary Friend" and Iconoclastic Images "Freedom Road."

Absent Friends 6.94
Sticks and Stones 7.11
Leaving Today 6.78
Come Home Billy Bird 6.52
My Imaginary Friend 6.37
The Wreck of the Beautiful 6.84
Our Mutual Friend 6.65
The Happy Goth 6.57
Freedom Road 6.62
Laika's Theme 6.51
Charmed Life 7.37
Lyrcs 7.42

Overall Feel

6.99

OVERALL RATING: 7.39