There’s something a little strange about Ben Marwood’s debut album, Outside There’s a Curse – something almost unsettling. The majority of the record is comprised of Marwood’s voice and tinkling acoustic guitar, with just the odd touch of other instruments here and there. ‘They Will Float Your Body Out to Sea’ is coloured with some tasteful organ work and a quiet beat, whilst ‘Singalong’ smuggles in some slide guitar. ‘JJ Abrams’ introduces some piano and comes close to being a rock song, but calmly strolls out of the room in the last quarter. On paper, then, it’s all pretty simple – but to the ears, it isn’t. Avoiding the easy sentimentality that poisons so much acoustic music, Marwood instead aims for clever and playful in his lyrics, hitting the balance between them perfectly. Though not blessed with the greatest range, the singer’s crisp English accent adds charm to lines such as ‘with a love for the macabre, and a sideline in bad jokes, we’d rather sing of Lovecraft than sit through Hollyoaks’. The melodies throughout are more casual than catchy, but that suits the off-kilter lyrical content, providing a sense of completeness to the overall sound. It all feels too unassuming to be truly great, but Outside There’s a Curse pricks the interest of the listener, and lets you have fun in the process. Bringing the whole affair to a close with a worthy, halting cover of The Postal Service’s ‘The District Sleeps Alone Tonight’ suggests that England might finally have found its answer to Ben Gibbard.