For those new to Butcher Boy, they are a seven strong Glaswegian collective who make slightly twee, string laden indie-pop, shaded with sadness, about the pains of growing up and the awkwardness of relationships - all inspired by the city they live in. Remind you of anyone? It's all too easy to dismiss Butcher Boy as Belle & Sebastian copyists. It's also doing them a massive diservice as their third album,'Helping Hands', includes songwriting of the calibre that Stuart Murdoch (himself a fan apparently) has struggled to maintain on recent albums.
Instrumental opener 'J Is For Jamie' hints at the maudlin side of nu-folk with its swathes of cello, before giving way to the gorgeous 'The Day Our Voices Broke', a wonderful example of John Blain Hunt's complex and touching lyrics. The arrangements of the twelve tracks is nothing short of sublime, complimenting the soft melodies rather than overpowering them. The only downside is that a couple of songs are a little too flimsy for their own good, suggesting that if they'd stuck to just ten we could be looking at one of the albums of the year.
It's when the tempo is kept high that the music really comes alive. Recent single 'Imperial' adds a drum machine to the organic textures and the result is a real treat. 'Parliament Hill' and 'Russian Dolls' see the band sounding darker, adding more depth to the album, whereas the country-tinged 'I Am The Butcher' adds variety without seeming out of place. Overall, 'Helping Hands' is a triumph, but with a little more meat on their bones, Butcher Boy could be sensational.