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Atmosphere, ‘The Family Sign’ (Rhymesayers)

On the follow-up to surprise 2008 commercial hit When Life Gives You Lemons…, cagey MC Slug and producer Ant are joined full-time by guitarist Nate Collis and keyboardist Erick Anderson, but Family Sign is a spare, solemn affair. No longer the self-obsessed antihero, Slug continues his shift to serious storyteller, but the narratives here lack coherence and detail, while the music – ominous piano, lonely guitar – feels sketchy, like partial demos. And unlike on Lemons, there are no jaunty pop hooks to lighten or balance the mood.