After a break of almost 15 years Susanne Lewis and Bob Drake have reconvened their classic partnership. In the meantime rock and post rock has mainly moved away from the song and its classic shapes, leaving commercial pop to straighten them out and endlessly repeat the same tropes and tricks. Hail is rare amongst bands in its adherence to the notion that what makes a song interesting is the application of imagination and skill to its arrangement, performance and recording. The plan is not to drag songs away into other domains by grafting on bits of jazz, classical or electronic vocabulary, but to make them more what they are; to concentrate and distill them. Susanne Lewis's voice is extremely personal, never generic, Bob Drake's signature rhythm section work always exemplary. The songs are real rather than clever, and the production constantly invents contrapuntal detail and colour. This is a virtuosic album that never shows off. For those who wish there were more good songs on the experimental side of transfigured pop.