Marissa Nadler isn’t far off being considered a song-writing institution. For My Crimes, her 7th studio album, doesn’t stray far from her established formula of dreamy, layered vocals anchored on stripped back instrumentation. Melancholy by way of country-tinged guitars and plenty of reverb, it explores themes of disconnection, regret and memory through the lens of Nadler’s experience away from significant others on tour.

The titular track sets both the tone and narrative: over a simple, minor guitar figure Nadler is led away down a prison corridor, thinking of a lover, imploring them not to remember her “for her crimes”. The following tracks sketch out small scenes in which alienations and stuttering attempts at reconnection are acted out. Nadler could sound heart-broken singing about a chai-latte, and throughout the album her voice never falls short of sumptuous, asking you to wrap yourself up in its starry blanket of soft, twinkling darkness.

Yet, this airy headroom also presents the album’s biggest problem. Even though themes of distance and time are key players in the message Nadler is trying to convey, the personal heart of the album is often swamped by her trademark ethereal production and sometimes abstract lyricism. The title track is a case in point: the prison imagery feels both impersonal and melodramatic, without offering any reason for empathy.

The second song ‘I Can’t Listen to Gene Clark Without You Anymore’, is a vast improvement however, drawing in around the central refrain of its titular personal admission. A brighter, clearer guitar tone also helps to dissipate some of the mist around Nadler’s celestial pedestal so she can descend in human form. On tracks like this, when the listener offered something to relate to, the effect is immediate and chilling. Unfortunately, only twice more does she deem to appear so mortal: the song ‘You’re Only Harmless When You Sleep’ is a biting indictment of a past lover, and the destructive detail of album closer ‘Say Goodbye to That Car’ resonates sentimentality.

Unfortunately, many of the other tracks on the album feel under-developed. ‘All Out of Catastrophes’ is oxymoronic in that it itself is a catastrophe: a snore inducing break-up narrative both musically and lyrically lacking. Its verses offer nothing but clichés about finding motels and throwing keys in anger: its only small pleasure comes in the recounting of a spine-tingling insult, “You said I live for tragedy”, that you can’t help feeling has come directly from Nadler’s life. All of this is underpinned on a dirge chorus that features only the single line, “We’re all out of catastrophes”, repeated over and over until the song finally chokes to a halt with nothing else to say at just two minutes and thirteen seconds long. ‘Dream Dream Big in the Sky’ follows with a similar template and equally boring result. There’s no way that without such impeccable, woozy production Nadler would be able float duds like these into the centre of her album.

While Nadler presumably imagines you reclining in a dark room while listening, For My Crimes’ tidy runtime of 31 minutes makes it convenient as a soundtrack for other activities: perhaps knocking together a quinoa salad for lunch or quick tidy up of the worktops. Ultimately its to these situations it’s most suited, shimmering in the background where it won’t be exposed to too much scrutiny. Long time fans of Nadler’s work won’t be disappointed, but overall For My Crimes feels like a bit of a missed opportunity. She may sing about throwing keys, but the reality is this album won’t be taking anyone’s eye out anytime soon.