When musicians spin off from their main band to release a solo album it's usually because they have a trove of their own songs stored up, or they have something they need to get off their chest - particularly if they're not one of the songwriters in their central band. Both of these were true for The Fresh & Onlys lead guitarist Wymond Miles, who had two releases in 2012; his debut EP Earth Has Doors was made of four tracks kept tucked away for years, and his debut full length Under The Pale Moon was inspired by the recent deaths of a close friend and some family members.

Both of these releases were much looser and less upbeat than The Fresh & Onlys, instead imbued with atmosphere and gloomy, sometimes ghoulish character. Now comes Miles' second full length, Cut Yourself Free, not much over a year later. This time Miles doesn't seem to have any specific agenda on his mind, and instead he's trying out a few different styles, which owes nods to several 80s forebears and results in a rather scattershot album.

Opener 'The Ascension' picks up where he left off on his debut, with interwoven guitars twanging languidly into an open space, which is where Miles' sullen voice works best. The progression to get to song's fully-fledged ending is slow and perfectly-judged; resulting in a five and a half minute encapsulation of the best of what Miles solo work is striving to be. The loftier and less rigidly written tracks like this are where Miles' sound excels. Unfortunately they aren't so abundant on this offering; the instrumental interlude 'Bronze Patina' does it nicely, but the only other real example comes in the form of 'Vacant Eyes'. On this spare and foreboding number Miles' impassioned near-howl trades off moments in the spotlight with expansive guitar solos, both allowed to float by the lack of any fixed percussion. The result is graceful, beautiful and almost hymnal.

The rest of the tracks are more straightforward verse-chorus-verse affairs that wear their influences openly. 'Night Drives' is reminiscent of the threatening passion often instilled by The Cure (Miles' voice can sound quite similar to Robert Smith), but comes off flatter. Better is the appropriation of Roxy Music in the beautifully leisurely 'White Nights'. 'Why Are You Afraid?' owes a debt to Pixies' ability to match its deceptively upbeat vocal hook with a catchy mirroring guitar line. 'Passion Plays' and 'Anniversary Song' both glance back towards 70s and 80s alt-rock bands, but find the hulking mass of Interpol in the way. It's hard not to hear echoes of the New York band in the frenetic guitars and Miles' frantic delivery that recall the unhinged glory of those Turn On The Bright Lights singles - this is by no means a band thing, but like many who've tried, it can't quite match their towering presence. The best of the bunch is 'Love Will Rise' which ends the album with macabre vocals and keyboards interspersed with dramatic rumbling drums.

Miles has shown over the course of his three solo releases that he is a fine songwriter in his own right, and he will hopefully continue to grow and flourish in future releases. Hopefully next time around he'll take a little longer between albums and flush out his ideas a little more. Although, knowing how prolific The Fresh & Onlys are, who knows when he'll get enough spare time to do so.