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Paul Draper - EP Two album review

Ex-Mansun man returns with second clutch of new songs

Mansun never quite wanted to belong to any party that would have them as members, and after the Cheshire quartet emerged just as the Britpop scene ran out of steam, they eschewed radio-friendly trad rock to make ambitious, semi-conceptual albums that won them an enduring fanbase, if not lasting commercial success.

Their frontman Paul Draper returned in 2016 with his first new music in 12 years, and appeared on co-songwriter Catherine AD’s album The Anchoress. The electronic undercurrents of those records are largely absent here, but that doesn’t harm the first of these four tracks, Friends Make The Worst Enemies. It’s a song perpetually on the verge of a dangerous emotional outburst, full of tense paranoia then impassioned yearning that would have surely done his old band proud back in the day. Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid is a gently regretful lament, and Don’t You Wait, It Might Never Come a high-octane rocker. Then we’re back to the beginning but with half its clothes removed, as an acoustic reading of the opening track closes the EP like a stark echo. Either way, it’s striking and stirring; and Draper’s debut solo LP, planned for next spring, can’t come soon enough.