I first came across Black International on Twitter, where a group of like-minded bands/promoters/music writers (see: Alright The Captain, Trojan Horse, Rumour Cubes, Echoes and Dust, GoldFlakePaint and Colonics, amongst others) seem to be carving out a particular niche for themselves by virtue of friendly banter, fan engagement and - crucially - bloody good music. So yes, you may call this nepotism, or you could just say that I'm in that very lucky position where if I hear an album I like, I actually get to write about it and stick it on the internet for people to read. Personally, I prefer the latter. And I really do like this album.

The first thing that hits you about In Debt is the incredibly militaristic drumming that opens the first track, which really gets inside your head and makes you listen, because you're not entirely sure where it's going to go from there. When it resolves into what - on a first listen - sounds like relatively upbeat guitar-led indie, you might be a little bit disappointed. But stick with it, because I can guarantee you won't be for long. It's true that this style of music isn't brand-spanking new or totally different to anything that's gone before. And yes, it's the sort of music that every band thinks they can make, so from time to time it is done incredibly badly. However, that doesn't mean it's incapable of being done well, and it doesn't mean that when it's done well it's incapable of sounding good, and you should be very, very wary of falling into either of those traps when listening to this album.

Because there is a definite hook here. I am at a slight loss to tell you exactly what it is, as I'm only halfway through the first track right now, but it's there, and it draws you in, making you start tapping your foot and nodding your head along to the music. Whatever this is, or isn't, in terms of genre, innovation and the like, one thing is for sure - it's very well done. The guitar duet in 'Destruct_o_' capitalises on some very unexpected rhythms, leaving you totally at a loss to predict where the track will go next, and 'Dread (Excerpt)' is really very good indeed.

More often than not, this type of music - however upbeat it sounds on the surface - tells a bitter tale of unrequited love and messy break-ups, and that's where Black International really excel, by not falling into that trap. With lyrics such as "Monday morning, start of another week, property pages and the smell of antifreeze" and "This week's an emotional invalid ... I'm going out to have some fun", you can't help but enjoy their tales of relatively mundane, everyday experiences, made interesting by the use of unexpected metaphors. Stewart Allan is singing about things that everyone can relate to, independently of whether or not they've just had their heart broken, which makes this album relatively unique in terms of standing out from the crowd.

It's when 'Interval' comes on, though, that you really start to realise that these guys are something quite special; a one-minute..well..interval of metallic-sounding electronica that seems to come from nowhere compared to what has gone before, but which segues perfectly into the build up for 'The City Is Dead', which captured my heart on a purely personal level by starting in 3/4 - a time signature woefully under-used outside of classical music. After breaking down in the middle, the beat returns in 4/4, but this is so subtlety done that you wouldn't even notice it unless it was something you were specifically listening out for - a very welcome break from a lot of the math-rock bands out there at the moment who seem to feel that every time change should be brought to your attention by being utterly jarring in their suddenness.

Similarly, 'You Can Trust Me' rolls along quite nicely in what I think is 6/8, but what really makes this song is the way they emphasise different beats of the bar, making the time signature almost impossible to follow. You suddenly find that the song is moving much faster than you thoughts, and is inexorably dragging you along with it, until, unexpectedly, the song is over, and with it, so is the album. Not the most climactic end to an album I've ever heard, but definitely something that leaves you wanting more.

In short, if you like this type of music anyway, you'll love this album, and if you don't, you should give it a listen anyway - you'll more than likely be pleasantly surprised.

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