It’s not often I’m this surprised by an opening track on an album. Especially on a Monday morning when I’m usually at my most jaded and cynical.

Allow me to introduce you (if like me you are one of the uninitiated) to Haunts and their self titled debut which is out today. Starting off with the melodramatic uber camp black eyed theatrics of the opening single ‘London’s Burning’ (no it’s not a cover). In the first minute or so I was thinking along the lines of a slightly ramped up Sisters Of Mercy, you know what I mean all rather gothic and thunderous but dare I say it not taking itself at all that seriously. Every now and then though a strange permutation of disco seems to seep into the affair which is where the surprises begin to leak in.

The rest of the album follows in a similar fashion, the influences aren’t worn too readily on sleeves so you need to do a bit of train spotting to catch where they are coming from. It’s almost like the band were so overwhelmed with ideas they had enough ammunition to make interesting side steps midway through songs. So what you have here is a distinctly changeable affair that gives the album lots of singles potential and plenty of longevity in your collection.

Let’s take the track ‘Black Eyed Girl’ as an example with it’s angular rather spiky backdrop. Rather than plot a course for the duration of the song the track softens noticeably by the chorus but such changes don’t smack of gimmickry. It’s simply the way Haunts appear to do things. Further in they even deliver a kind of ‘bleak funk’ with the exceedingly dancefloor friendly ‘Live Fast Die Young’ and ‘Grace (Is Home Late). Lyrically there is grandiose storytelling brought to life in a suitably cartoonish fashion to suit their lavish backdrops (particularly on ‘Throw Down Your Guns’ and ‘Breaking Up’).

In conclusion this is a bit of a gem of a record from a band who are already making something of a name for themselves on the remix circuit (The Enemy, CSS, White Lies, Snow Patrol) and another release from Black Records which suitably impresses this reviewer at every turn (if you haven’t checked out The Bookhouse Boys make it an essential purchase).

First rate indeed. Off to the shops with you…