The Unthanks, 'Last' (Rough Trade)

Critical Mass
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Label: Rough Trade

by Josh Modell

It'd be difficult to place this spectral folk outfit's century of origin if not for the King Crimson and Tom Waits covers on their fourth album. Sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank -- real last name -- sing gorgeously doleful tales inspired by (and frequently taken from) Old English history, rendered in crisp, warm recordings. "Disappointment is everywhere," goes the refrain of "Give Away Your Heart," but somehow the group manages, with masterfully restrained piano and strings, to wring joy from bygone heartache.

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