In accentuating both the latent Antony Hegarty and Nick Cave in his music, Taylor Kirk’s folksy-noir has come over all cabaret-noir on his latest album as Timber Timbre. A small shift, perhaps, but a significant one from an artist for whom the devil has always lurked in the details of tone and atmosphere. And atmosphere is something ‘Hot Dreams’ has in abundance: sepia-toned and weighty, this album is shrouded in a near-Lynchian veil of dark eroticism, haunted by an alien sexuality emerging from the depths of the subconscious.

Sultry keys and strings lend a sense of faded grandeur to Kirk’s bluesy ballads, undercut only by the motel seediness of Colin Stetson’s unusually mellow saxophone. But for all their seductive gravitas both Cave’s majestic ‘Push The Sky Away’ and Hegarty’s ‘I Am A Bird Now’ also had quirk, a more generous helping of which could have considerably invigorated ‘Hot Dreams’.

Kirk’s lyrics mine a mostly uninteresting abstraction, as do the melodies, which rarely break from their pedestrian meandering to infiltrate the long-term memory. That’s not to say the album’s languor doesn’t produce moments of evocative ambiguity, the dreamlike slink of the title track being a particularly convincing illustration: “I wanna dance, I wanna dance, I wanna dance with a black woman,” goes the disarming opening line. But too often ‘Hot Dreams’ feels laboured, its finely rendered, musty arrangements barely mitigating its compositional inertia.