Release Date: 09/09/08 Label: Touch and Go Records Link: Buy: Amazon UK

The opening track on the New Year’s recent release quickly establishes that they are in no hurry. It takes a leisurely three minutes for the vocals in "Folios" to eventually drift in. When they do, Matt Kadane sings with the kind of intimate, heavy-hearted earnestness, that gently draws you in to the New Year’s world of wistful witticisms and insular, brooding reflections.

Most of the ten tracks on the album are acoustic, elegant little numbers, but there are some rockier tracks such as "X Off Days" and "The Door Opens", which pack some punch and provide change from the otherwise down-tempo poignant ponderings. Amidst the bubble of morose magic that "The New Year" conjure, the occasional glimmer of humour shines through the gloom. This is most notably in "The Company I Can Get", a lament on the loneliness of road-tripping, in which the wailing guitars are punctuated by the sardonic reflection that "God knows I need all the company I can get/ Even the red-neck in the Corvette". However, any wry chuckle you afford is quickly swept away by the onset of more majestic melancholy. Minor chords freely feature on this album, and the overall effect is highly atmospheric, with each track contributing to the bigger picture – or the bigger sound and mood. In contrast to the New Year’s previous releases, this album heavily features the piano, which adds additional depth and texture to their already rich, guitar-heavy sound.

The New Year formed in the summer of 1999 which I find surprising, as they are not a band who sound summery at all. Their seasonal home is undoubtedly autumn or winter, with their muted colours, long shadows, and barren landscapes. "The New Year" is the New Year’s third album after four years of inactivity, and due to their long absence, it would be totally inaccurate to say that they are back with a bang. Rather, it seems far more appropriate to equate them with a soft and slow-burning candle than a noisy display of screeching fireworks. Chances are that the candle would out-live the fireworks anyway, and this is what is interesting about the New Year – they are not trying to be noisy, bold, or attention-grabbing. Instead, they create a timeless kind of sound that, as we approach winter, will see you through those long, cold and dark nights, like a little but bright candle, illuminating your room, your mind, and also your heart.