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Empty Set As Neat As A New Pin
Chris Long
BBC Manchester

The band Empty Set standing on the towpath of a canal in Manchester
Empty Set

Boy meets girl, girl loses boy, boy gets girl back… the lyrical content of music can often be a rut-stuck trawl.

It seems to always be about love in the most average of ways - unless you're Empty Set, that is.

Empty Set write tender love songs set against a backdrop of musical gentility, which make up the duo's sweet debut, As Neat As A New Pin.

The topics of their songs include physics, bad handwriting, Canadian journalists and French mathematicians.

Impressively, such oddities are not forced in for effect, as the topics weave so easily in with the sparing accompaniments that you just know that they're there because it's just how songwriter Tommy Ogden thinks.

Of course, decent lyrics are only one half of any musical battle and thankfully they come supported by satisfying, if occasionally over-sparse, little melodies to make songs as neat and tidy as the album title suggests.

A Challenge To Copernicus, for example, is a delicate strum-along that meanders through the notion that someone in love sees a universe that revolves around their lover, while Alice & Bob (Forlorn Photon Love) is a swinging, swaying violin-led gem that takes experiments at the University of Innsbruck as a metaphor for long-distance love.

And as if to prove that they're more than one trick folk-pop ponies, there's a pair of covers from opposite ends of the musical scale - Cole Porter's You're The Top closes proceedings in suitably subtle style, while before it, the Jesus and Mary Chain's Some Candy Talking is epic in the most mild of ways.

So As Neat As A New Pin is a reserved and erudite affair, precisely formed and tightly packed - and while it may lack a little in musical bite and intrigue, it more than makes up for it in imaginative and unexpected words.

As Neat As A New Pin is out on Tough Love Records



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