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Following on from their affable debut, Here and Elsewhere, and much improved sophomore effort, Fight Less Win More, My Sad Captains' third showing indicates they're progressing remarkably with each subsequent record. In Best of Times they have concocted something markedly ambitious and serenely detailed; something comfortingly familiar yet flourished with snippets of the avant-garde. It's great, in other words.

Best of Times swings from chilled electronic, to power pop, to grandstanding balladry, but rarely transgresses into pretension or gratuitousness. It's at its most conventionally poppy in opener, 'Goodbye,' and the Junior Boys-esque 'Extra Curricular'. They're typified by faint drums, tranquil guitars and strangely melancholic synths, and, although never achieving the structural excellence of their counterparts, maintain a charming funkiness. Saying that; the addition of the orchestral brass onto the fixed arrangement on 'Extra Curricular' is one of the album's unexpected apexes.

As well as the pseudo-disco, My Sad Captains can also do the intimate. Acoustic guitars support Ed Wallis' noticeably hazy warble on 'All In Your Mind', while 'In Time' recounts the prototypical lost romance arbitrated by a sophisticated guitar/abrasive-string-sample combo. Wallis' pleasingly humble diction entreats sincerity and erudition across the LP, but his sighing dialect sounds most at home in the tragic-love-story narrative of 'In Time'.

Considerably, the highlight of Best of Times is its epics; the ambition of their social commentary is matched by their compositional complexity. 'Wide Open' is a softly spoken protest song. Regular piano and guitar blips, and some seriously seething strings, accentuate Wallis's plea for a rhetorical revolution. Its indictment of social media excess acts as a partner to St. Vincent's 'Digital Witness'; both are vitriolic condemnations of our obsession with, and compulsion for, sharing. 'Hardly There' is reminiscent of mid-90s Yo La Tengo, with its whispery vocals and bagloads of reverb. Its build-up is flawlessly paced, and the whole thing is paradoxically minuscule and soaring. 'All Times Into One' is the stand-out. With bubbly drums and a soothingly underplayed bassline, Wallis casually decides to share the meaning of life; "it could be the best of times and the worst it could be too/you're never done explaining all the mysteries of you." Rather than being a Bono-fide borefest, it's a revelatory, genuinely thoughtful spotlight compounded by a disarmingly impassioned synth-string coda.

Thematically, Best of Times isn't purporting that we share too much, or not enough, but that we're sharing the wrong stuff. The overpowering antipathy towards contemporary social interaction so resonant in 'Wide Open' contradicts 'Goodbye's opening sentiments; "those precious words you never say/the ones you're saving for a rainy day." In 'All in Your Mind' and 'Hardly There' Wallis hauntingly describes his inability to dialogue, to truly talk, to the people he loves. Fundamentally Wallis designates our agonising, and perhaps permanent, miscommunication. Is honest, unpolluted communication possible? Probably not. This theory culminates in the final song, 'Familiar Ghosts'. Wallis implies our interactions with friends, family and strangers are systematically shaped by predetermined and unconscious projections on our relationships; we warp them into 'familiar ghosts,' as idealised representations. We cannot communicate candidly because of social taboos, internet over-reliance, and psychosomatic insecurities, but also because we're talking to someone who doesn't exist, as Wallis despairs on 'Wide Open'; "I wonder why you need to talk so loud/if there isn't anybody else around." If they aren't a binary construction on a computer screen, then they're a mechanically altered depiction in reality.

My Sad Captains articulate this central, impossible alienation gratifyingly, and they sound just lovely doing it.