Many will recognise Hugo Manuel as the man behind the one man electronic project Chad Valley, following the 2 excellent Balearic dance inspired EPs he’s release under the name, or perhaps you might know him as a key figure in the Blessing Force movement coming out of Oxford (which has spawned bands such as Fixers, Trophy Wife and Pet Moon). But some may not know that Chad Valley is simply a side project from his main band Jonquil. Despite several releases under the name, this new record Point of Go can almost be seen as their debut. The sound of the album is certainly more realised, and the production is much more clear and crisp than previous recordings, making this feel like a genesis for the band which could really make a more profound impression on people’s ears.

Studio production can work one of two ways for bands that have previously used more rudimentary recording methods; either sucking any charm out of the band, or enhancing the sounds and letting previously obscured elements in the music shine through. The production on Point of Go falls into the latter, as this is an album of glowing melodies and highly memorable choruses, with all the band’s intricacies being allowed to thrive. This clear production is apparent from the off on the beautiful ‘This Innocent’. It’s a spacious track which simultaneously soothes and enthrals, as Hugo’s voice dips from high to low without dropping a note. It also works as a rather touching love song as Hugo confesses "My ears are on fire thinking of you" with analogous lyrical themes running throughout the rest of the record.

Point of Go also boasts some quite emphatic ‘tunes’ for lack of a better word. ‘It’s My Part’ for example, is a cowbell infused highly danceable track especially when the infectious little guitar line comes in more often as the song progresses. It’s carefree and joyous, as Hugo casts aside people’s expectations, singing defiantly "It’s my part and I’ll play it how I want, I don’t care which way the world turns." And if you thought those lyrics sounded a bit Morrissey-esque, ‘Run’ has the sort of chorus that wouldn’t be too out of place on an old Smiths cut, but manages to stay original with its bouncing piano and Manuel’s powerful vocals. Much like a lot of the tracks on Point of Go, ‘Run’ is exceedingly simple yet ludicrously catchy with its repetitive sing-a-long chorus. It’s obvious that Jonquil certainly know their way round a hook, notably on other tracks like ‘Mexico’ and ‘Swells’(The latter of which displays some impressive vocal gymnastics from Manuel towards the end which sends shivers up the spine)

The record is surprisingly accessible; the lyrics are relatable tales of love and general frivolity, the melodies and choruses are consistently on point and Hugo Manuel’s voice is massive and actually tremendously enjoyable to listen to (certainly a relief from myriad frontmen who just mumble incoherently into the microphone). In fact, Manuel’s voice is so effective it even redeems slightly less musically interesting tracks like ‘Getaway’, and makes what would otherwise be a fairly pedestrian affair (‘History of Headaches’) sound bewilderingly beautiful and a little bit sexy.

It’s a triumph of a record, which with enough of an audience certainly has the potential to lull many into its charms. It may be quite basic musically, with most songs revolving around pleasant piano chords, precise guitar lines and truly great vocals, but Point of Go certainly brings some summer cheer to the beginning of spring.