Potentially, this is the perfect lockdown record. The songs were written over a three-year period but recorded quickly in the artist's home. It is described as "an autobiographical album about break ups.".
It was recorded acoustically on 8-track for that full close up and personal effect. Hayman’s fey ways with words are backed at every turn by Hannah Winter and Laura K, sometimes oppressively so.
On The Joint Account, the heart-wrenching division of personal belongings after one of his break-ups prompts Hayman to ask himself "What will I do with all these photographs" at which point the girly chorus chirp in a "What will he do with all these photographs?" to destroy the poignancy of the moment.
Darren Hayman's style hasn't changed that much from his days fronting the Indie band Hefner who also focused more on domestic dramas than global issues. He also so obviously wants to shun any hint of macho oppression that the statement "I don't want no hate", in Dinosaur Plate is a tad redundant especially since the implicit question to most of his tunes is : 'Why can't we all just be nice?'
The hopeless romantic in him produces lines like "I would be a blanket for your heart" in the self-explanatory I Love You, I Miss You, Come Back; a sentiment echoed in the closing tune: Wrap Yourself Around Me.
His self-conscious nerdiness tries the patience a little so it comes as a relief when, onKissing a Cloud, he tones down the mannered delivery.
At the other extreme, I Tried and I Tried and I Failed features him simply repeating the title for just over a minute and probably should have been added to the sister album 'I Can Travel Through Time' which consists of ten one-minute songs.
Hayman says "I wanted to make useful songs, words that could be comforting, not just thoughts that would depress.” yet on the whole he bends over a little too far to be non-threatening.
At his best he has a goofy charm akin to that of Jonathan Richman but I can't help feeling that more spite or bite to the songs would have added to their utility.