• +/- (plus/minus) Xs On Your Eyes (CD, £10.95)

    label: Absolutely Kosher

    Xs on Your Eyes is the fourth +/- {Plus Minus} album and the follow-up to 2006's widely acclaimed Let's Build a Fire. The intervening two years have seen 2/3 of the trio enlarge their families as Patrick Ramos had twins in late '06 and James Baluyut became a father for the first time last year. Drummer Chris Deaner has spent that time as the touring drummer for Kelly Clarkson. All of these experiences are reflected on the record in the band's more mature and surprisingly accessible approach. It's become clichéd to say that a record will appeal to the band's current fan base and also help them cross-over to new fans, but the tag fits Xs on Your Eyes in spades, showcasing +/- {Plus/Minus} at an incredibly exciting time in their career. The band has cut-back on the sound bites, synthesizers and programmed drum beats, instead relying more heavily upon the versatile musicianship of its members - warm horn sections, classical guitar and even pedal steel guitar find their way onto the record while retaining the band's trademark fusion of complex arrangements that are easy on the ears. The album's lead single, "Snowblind", as well as its likely follow-up, "Subdued", are possibly the greatest songs the band has ever recorded and rockets them to a totally new level. The ascending excitement that's gradually progressed to this point is still very much there, but it's exploded into a burst of sunlight as Xs on Your Eyes is distinctly more calm and confident in tone and is destined to become a favourite of many.

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