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Relentlessly charming as well as technically impressive, A Season in Hull deserves to drag in a whole heap of new fans for The Wave Pictures.

Spiritual, lyrical and aesthetic twins of Herman Dune, Wave Pictures exist in the same shag carpet and tea miniverse that reveres simple countrified melodies and consistent release schedules. You can confidently expect two to three new Wave Pictures albums, tour EPs, territory-specific one-offs or collectables every year, and the quality control is remarkably tight. If you like the template, it's a safe bet you'll like the records.

A Season in Hull is mostly buttoned-down folk-pop; tortured love songs with natty turns of phrase and poetry that you suspect would work just as well as a series of a capellas. Occasionally, the musical backing feels like a boorish intruder.

Not that the songs are dull or throwaway. Well... they are throwaway, but not in a bad way. It's just that Wave Pictures songs have a utilitarian feel, like stylishly worn jeans. There is almost no bombast; even on the brilliantly titled 'Thin Lizzy Live and Dangerous', the angriest heartbeat comes from a lazy kick drum that trudges alongside the melodies like an angry dog. It's all very good-natured.

'Don't Worry My Friend, Don't Worry At All' is the finest of a pretty strong collection, and demonstrates the band's ear for a memorable couplet: "I love the feeling of the sheets in this hotel / and the sound of the rain on the roof." "Anger strung like white lights along a wood pier / everybody has a vulture in them." What is fascinating about the song's structure is the absolute disdain shown for rhyme. Each line is constructed confidently, without the usual desperate grab for a cheap rhyming couplet. It's highly literate without becoming pretentious. Keen, not arch.

For those familiar with the band, there's no 'Leave The Scene Behind' to up the tempo and break the comfortable revelry, nothing as noisy as 'Sinister Purpose'. The album is smartly captured through a single microphone by Darren Hayman, and the volume is necessarily held down as a result. The end result has the lolloping gait of Herman Dune's 'Mas Cambios'; brassy, assured storytelling.

And man, those lyrical zingers just keep coming. David Tattersall has cemented his place as one of the finest, and most consistently original vocalists around. "But when I fly it will be effortful like swimming in the air / and if I plug my nose with TCP I could still smell your burning hair"; "I lie in the softness and the strength of your hands / like a little starfish lying in the sands." The phrasing, the delivery and the content - the vocalists' holy trinity - are perfectly pitched.

A Season in Hull is a cast-off gem, another diamond in a career of low-key marvels. The Wave Pictures are easily comfortable among their chosen peers, the anti-folk troubadours and garage-pop poets that criss-cross Europe on never-ending tours.

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