A masterful first album

Ex-Seahorses frontman Chris Helme is the leader and songwriter of quirky and post-Britpop band The Yards. The sound takes psychedelic, bohemian turns, like a lazy day in sixties London, but full of modern tenderness and crisp production. It twists from blues to rock to folk, all beneath a charismatic flow of vocals and mellow, sensual feel.

Opener "Forget Your Regrets" slinks in with a gospel sounding chant soon overtaken by beefy drums and charismatic, fat guitar riffs. It's a catchy slice of genuine rock n' roll fever that's sure to have fans lined up like religious converts.

Now that "Forget Your Regrets" has knocked you to the back of the room, the lackadaisical, rich "Get Off My Back" can trail lazily through your mind, flavoured with quirky electronica and in-you-face vocals.

Download single "The Devil Is Alive And Well In DC" has more Americana about it than just the title, from the bluesy, but still firmly rocking guitars, to Chris Helme's amazingly powerful and raw voice. "Only Myself to Blame" surfaces quickly as a panoramic, thousand-foot high folk-rock ballad with enough aching to bemuse the entire medic population. Even with the softer guitars and gently throbbing bass, The Yards are powerful and stunning.

"Crime" has a slinky and seductive bass line and erupts into a chorus bursting with soul, "now the world's too full for us to hide" laments Helme. This would be one of my favourite tracks, if I didn't say that about every single one I hear. "On The Inside" is sullen, but still crisp with sparkles of keyboard and a ballsy, but toned-down chorus.

"Superhuman" really shows off Chris Helme's vocals with gentle support from the band to pad out this tuneful, sweet melody. It's the kind of tune that fills the screen in films just as the protagonist has reached self-realisation, because it's deep and sincerely beautiful and leaves no room for words. "Pure" begins as a delicate, shimmering piece suitable for a musical with twinkling piano, but soon the band kicks in and builds up the fragile atmosphere to an elevated epiphany.

"California" boasts sumptuous distorted vocals and tight, squealing vocals with swirling guitars and angry riffs. The combination of massive, heavy tunes followed by soulful, swinging ones is upheld by "Fireflies", a gentle lullaby upheld by a bluesy bass line. "Up 'Til Dawn" starts will a taste of the mid-west in the guitar intro and transpires to be a sweet, rounded love song with violins and piano. A perfect serene ending to an awe-inspiring album.