Mojo (UK) - - Filter Albums -

Uni­ver­sal High MARATHON ARTISTS. CD/DL/LP South Lon­don alt-rock­ers’ soul­ful sec­ond-LP evo­lu­tion. On 2014’s La­cuna, Child­hood were vaguely dubby in­die rock sound­sca­pers, of­ten oblique, but full of prom­ise. Here, that po­ten­tial is fully con­verted, via a repo­si­tion­ing com­pa­ra­ble with Paul Weller’s from The Jam’s gritty, in­tense last gasp to The Style Coun­cil’s freshly chilled, un­clut­tered grooves. There’s a lazy-hazy À Paris EP vibe about tunes like Cameo, Un­der­stand­ing and up­front sin­gle Cal­i­for­nian Light, all doubt­less sourced from beloved Chicago soul icons like Cur­tis May­field and The Chi-Lites. Star-in­wait­ing front­man Ben Ro­mans-Hopcraft makes all the req­ui­site leaps into dreamy falsetto, and in his less opaque lyrics mines the pain of a mal­func­tion­ing re­la­tion­ship, as well as wist­ful ru­mi­na­tions on grow­ing up. There are a cou­ple of crack­ing up­beat dancers aboard too (Don’t Have Me Back; Too Old For My Tears), plus some en­dear­ing quirks (retro-cheesy synths, rest­less song struc­tures). All told: a sum­mer soul smash. Andrew Perry

It tolls for thee: Oh Sees’ John Dwyer chan­nels his in­ner orc.

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