Three albums in, and newly signed to the much-respected Bella Union label, ‘Best of Times’ is My Sad Captains settling into their downbeat sound. Two years on from the Americana-tinged ‘Fight Less, Win More’, theirs is still a sound centred on wistful melodies and Ed Wallis’ rundown vocal. Despite the positive title, it lends ‘Best of Times’ an almost rueful sadness with the sonic swells of ‘In Time’ and the drawn out Mariachi sound of ‘Extra Curricular’ adding to the soft-focus gloom. An album that’s as balanced as you’d expect from a band three records deep, there’s also a measured predictability that makes ‘Best of Times’ a largely one-paced listen.

Tracks like the undetonated Secret Machines-esque intent of ‘All Times Into One’ build perfectly without ever threatening, whereas the maudlin guitar lines of ‘All in Your Mind’ only add to the sense that a little bombast to break the melancholy would really allow the album to flourish. Opener, and lead single, ‘Goodbye’ remains a highlight; its simple percussion, unhurried melody and vocal hook are the band at their crystalized best, and the thick, reverb drench of ‘In Time’ serves up a snapshot of the impact My Sad Captains could have if they chose to dial it up.


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