Already this year we’ve had excellent first long players from The Beths, The Orielles and Ohmme, each marking out its own space by dint of the sheer joyousness of the artists’ enthusiasm. It’s arguable that Hollow Hand’s first full release trumps the lot; an assured, inspired record that mixes English eccentricism, glorious pop, folk and psych, and which matches Ray Davies at his best. It’s that good.

Very few artists arrive fully formed and with the promise of staying power. An instantly classic debut almost inevitably becomes an albatross. Eventually, for most artists, finding your way back to that path becomes impossible. It just becomes a job.

It takes Neil Young-levels of intellectual stamina to forge a career that is both long and consistent. Though technically their second record (after the limited release Ancestral Lands back in 2016), Star Chamber arrives with a charming blaze of light; a perfectly balanced sarsen stone just waiting to be built out into a circle.

Opener ‘Ancestral Lands’ is a feint; its ultra-simple structure and production serves mostly to introduce the voice of Max Kinghorn-Mills, the Brighton-born singer songwriter whose melodic compositions are here set to scarily good production, picking out every guitar line, percussion instrument and vocal harmony, and leaving the listener scratching their head as to how the band – producing themselves – manage to deliver so many competing elements in the cleanest of mixes.

‘One Good Turn’ is where the record really takes flight, and where we first get to experience the instrumental mix that will define much of the record. The track is jingle jangle in the best of senses, drawing on The Kinks, Super Furry Animals and Belle and Sebastian with a perfect balance of light and (not too ominous) shade. It also introduces the soft mysticism that runs through the core of the album’s lyrics, with a spoken-word middle section directly ordering the audience to hold hands, and, indirectly, to light joss-sticks and bake your own sourdough (probably).

I’m not usually a fan of campy psychedelia, but when the tunes are this good, I’m a sucker. Hollow Hand are much more Village Green Preservation Society than Their Satanic Majesties Request. Over the last year we’ve featured three of the standout tracks from the album, ‘A World Outside’, ‘Blackberry Wine’ and ‘End of Everything’. The first deals with overcoming mental ill health and feelings of isolation, the second explodes into flowery pop; but it’s the third that is the real centrepiece of the album.

‘End of Everything’ has a weird set of double bridges constructed around its chorus, and is perfectly paced across less than 3 minutes. Halfway through, it slams on the breaks, seemingly only to remember that it is aiming to be the perfect pop song; it slots back into a minor/major verse, building quickly towards that bridge, a half-pace wonder driven by what sound like deep, ringing bells and thick piano chords. It’s mystical in the way Wonderboy or Hello Sunshine are, which is to say, it is homespun British pop perfection.

The romance of Star Chamber is that of a three-bed terrace with bare wooden floors, Penguin Classic paperback editions of Albert Camus, climbing ivy and Ercol coffee tables. It sings with benevolence rather than atavism; the coastal suburbs, rather than inner cities; Brighton rather than London. Towards its close, the album relaxes into a blissful state of emotional balance, ending with the epic ‘Land of the Free’.

I can’t praise this album enough. It works on so many levels; its melodies are classic, but the production is innovative. It builds its own, completely logical and joyous world, with a sunny outlook tempered by emotional depth. To my ears, there won’t be many records this good released in 2018.