102621ANTI- Records – May 20th

Intentionally or not, Andy Shauf nailed his own epitaph when he named his last LP The Bearer of Bad News. Three and a half years on, the Saskatchewan-raised multi-instrumentalist returns with another set of amusingly gloomy character studies, only this time he’s turned his glass-half-empty outlook to parties. Whether they’re “overdressed and under-prepared” (‘Early To The Party’) or unsuccessfully hitting on their best mate’s ex (‘Quite Like You’), Shauf’s protagonists blunder along from one embarrassment to another. Fortunately, easing the awkwardness are some very pretty arrangements – often centred around piano and strings – plus the soft-focus, 70s production-feel recently re-popularised by Tobias Jesso Jr. As listeners, you’re left relieved not to be privy to the forced fun, but thankful to be an onlooker.

Buy: Andy Shauf – The Party

Live: Bush Hall – May 25th (sold out)