Port O'Brien

The progression that occurred between this Californian bands first installment and 2008's All We Could Do Was Sing hinted at a road that could take them to the momentous heights of Arcade Fire. Sounding like a raggedy relative of the Canadians they shone with effortless grandeur and lifted their sound way beyond their acoustic starting point to one that rivaled the crashing waves they often sung about. But as art often takes its cue from life, singer Cambria Goodwin's brother tragically died during the recording of Threadbare and the result is a more sombre and reflective followup but one that gleams with quiet beauty.

Goodwin gets more of the singing duties than last time and her distant vocals on opener High Without The Hope set the tone of the record early on with a delicate and achingly vulnerable delivery. As it fades from earshot the opening bars of My Will Is Good creep in to replace it and with it comes the husky vocals of Van Pierszalowski. His writing on All We Could Do Was Sing became slightly repetitive in its complaint of the sea fairing life that had been chosen for him, but here there is a darker feel and a more mature one. On this and Tree Bones - which recalls Nirvana's unplugged Plateau - the somber mood gains muscle and brings with it an interesting darkness. But instead of being weighty, this prevailing mood gives the album structure and the many punctuations that lift you high from the doom are well placed and essential. Songs like Sour Milk / Salt Water and Leap Year race along with uncharacteristic pace and with it Pierszalowski's vocals strain with raw energy.

It may not be the record we expected, but it's solid and more developed than before. Life's harsh twists and turns have brought out some truly thoughtful and searching music in this band and there are delights along the way that line this record with more than a glimmer of hope