After the death of the late, great Jeff Buckley, sidemen Michael Tighe and Parker Kindred formed Black Beetle with Buckley's musician girlfriend Joan Wasser - but the band imploded, its frontwoman now set on a solo career.
Take two: The A.M. - still featuring New Yorkers Tighe and Kindred - is a tightier, sassier affair, heavily retro-Brit and aimed squarely at the trash-goth contingent left mourning the moribund Suede. It's no surprise, therefore to find their debut offering on UK independent Storm.
Tighe's guitar skills have come on considerably since he simply covered the gaps his multi-talented mentor Buckley left in his live tapestries of sound. He's not the best singer in the world however, and his fey, glam-influenced vocal style is heavily mannered. This works a treat on songs like the Cure-influenced Changeling, or on the catchy Utopia; at other times he sounds like Bowie at his most archly silly, minus the Dame's knowing smirk.
The A.M.'s John Paul Jones is bassist Andrew Wyatt, whose elegant dabs of keyboards and literate string arrangements do much to refine a soundscape otherwise dominated by jangly, cheerful guitar. He's co-written the strongest songs on the album, too; Tighe's own solo efforts - such as the meandering Spellbound - tend to lack structure, though he sometimes touches a fragile beauty on brittle ballads like It's Pouring.
The influence most conspicuous by its absence on this CD is the one many people might be expecting to find - that of Jeff Buckley. Tighe and Kindred have gone out of their way not to sound like disciples, and the closest reference points are probably lyrical ones - though Tighe lacks Buckley's keen wit and muscular imagery.
With a UK club tour soon underway, it remains to be seen whether The A.M.'s new morning can shine brighter live than on this charming but somewhat hazy debut.
:: Clare O'Brien