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"You were always coming 'round," this mysterious North Carolina quartet sings, "but I found that I'm always gonna let you down." Many have come 'round to this group since their debut album two years ago, but the band does let us down on their sophomore effort, though not in a bad way. It's just that the Kingsbury Manx, after attracting attention seemingly out of nowhere for their sweetly quiet and gentle premiere (for a while, the album was rumored to be a secret side project of Chapel Hill indie-rock vets), has made a lonely, bleak follow-up. Let You Down doesn't ask us to leave the foursome alone, exactly, but it does insist that we're all alone in this world. The songs on the album come to us through a mist of sad reflections and hopeless observations: A solitary porch light glows, but no one's home ("Porchlight"). A person desperately searches for simplicity and some traction in the world ("Simplify"). A lover cries and leaves after being ignored ("Et Tu, Kitté?"). Rustic stairs lead to a darkened door ("Rustic Stairs"). The album fades out with someone having to do something against his will ("Do What You're Told"). Everything is bleak, bleak, bleak. Three-part harmony never sounded so solitary. Interlaced tremolo guitar lines, vintage keyboard fills, and oozing bass and drums blend uneasily, full of tension. Stasis reigns in the circling harmonic patterns. There's no escape, only bleary-eyed, fearful whispers of commiseration on this somber musical journey to the cloud-filled nowhere, a place where, sometimes, we all get lost.

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More by Michael J. Kramer

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I have "The Beauty of 23" and absolutely love it. Like most artists today, the lyrics for the cd were …

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I have "The Beauty of 23" and absolutely love it. Like most artists today, the lyrics for the cd were …

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