When the first New Bums record rolled around it was an unexpected treasure, the meeting of two minds already in high esteem around these parts. Donovan and Ben both came from cinder-laced folk backgrounds, each nesting pop into mossen environs that felt divergent from the modern world. When they emerged united in 2014 they found common ground between their approaches, waving away some of the campfire smoke, only to replace it with cigarette smoke instead. They explored the bare bulb blues that lay in anxious company with the fallout from punk and post-punk. While New Bums are by no means mainlining the rubbery tension of the late ‘70s, they find themselves walking the lines of the permanent hangover haze of those that left the amphetamine scrape behind, at least for a moment. Wtih shades of Johnny Thunders’ “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory,” traces of Robyn Hitchcock’s ’83 resurfacing on I Often Dream of Trains, and the works of Nikki Sudden and Dave Kusworth, the duo comes on like a graphite rubbing of the scar tissues of high atmosphere burners coming up for air.
In fact, there may be no greater heirs to the damaged, yet tender legacy of The Jacobites than New Bums, an honor I have a feeling the band wears with pride. Sudden’s candlelit, twilight pop has long flickered as a through line in the Bums’ work, with the most overt moment raising its head in a closing cover of “The Road of Broken Dreams” on the band’s first 7” back in 2013. They continue to keep that flame lit here. Sure a bit of Cats & Dogs-era Trux can sneak into their quiver every now and then (you know they’d crush a cover of “The Spectre”), but at their heart, the Bums are keeping the wounded spirit of Sudden alive; lunging for the beauty of tarnished gold that only seems to glimmer around 3AM. With a minimal setup — nimble strings, cottony vocals and a smirk that flashes just when you least expect it — the pair elegantly sew together tales of failure, longing, redemption and dreams both dashed and grasped. The last record leaped onto the turntable as an immediate favorite and this one follows right along in its stead, another shoulder to lean on in a world gone cold.
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