You have all your life to write your first album. The second? Much more of a rush. The pressure is ramped up even further, of course, if your debut is a smash hit. The Mysterines’ first foray put them in the top 10 and moved them into stadiums with Arctic Monkeys. A couple of years later, they are back with “Afraid Of Tomorrows,” and it’s immediately darker and deeper than the debut. Lia Metcalfe mumbles her way through “The Last Dance” so much that you feel you are intruding on some personal trauma.

Where they score big, though, is their hooks. “Stray” has a mid-90s near-grunge feel, but it explodes into its chorus. Like all the best bands, there’s something unsettling lurking here. “Another, Another, Another” finds Metcalfe opining, “The clock is only ticking if you’re listening, so I just close my eyes and try to forget it,” and the sonics they create are never less than interesting. A discordance abounds on “Tired Animal,” for example, and you’d imagine that they were more interested in doing their own thing, whatever the expectation.

The melodies are there, though, buried deep. “Jesse You’re A Superstar” worms its way in but finds a home. The clever use of instrumentation is evident in the way “Hawkmoon” builds, which makes the strident guitar line in “Sink Ya Teeth” somehow even more powerful and effective. Indeed, that heralds a sort of “Part 2” of the album, if you will. “Junkyard Angel” is more anthemic, but this most clever of journeys continues with “Inside A Matchbox,” which melds together a folk intent with an odd drum pattern, as if to underline that you’ll never second guess this band.

The more you think about it, the more it becomes clear that this is a kind of soundtrack playing in the heads of the Wirral quartet, which comes ever clearer into focus with “So Long” and its rather odd strings. The title track, being a kind of country hoedown, shouldn’t have shocked in context, but it still managed to. It ends a rather odd, but always compelling and beguiling record. “Afraid Of Tomorrows” is one of those records that may take a while to hit home, but it will.

Rating: 8/10

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