Almost 10 years since they released their self-titled debut on Beggars Banquet, The Early Years return with a brand new album called, simply, ‘II’. It was recorded in their home studio in rural Cheshire before being mixed in Atlanta, Georgia by Jason Kingsland (Deerhunter) and mastered at Abbey Road Studios by Frank Arkwright (Mogwai, New Order). It’s a stunning record, the sound of a band who have matured and relaxed into their playing, created without any external pressures or expectations. It is also more relevant now than ever, despite their long absence; it towers above the legions of kraut-psych bands who came along in their wake with the sheer scale of its scope and vision. Opener and lead single ‘Nocturne’ is a ferocious collision of man and machine: guitars sounding like Will Sergeant has moved to Neil Young’s farm, Roland TB-303s squelching away and the wild-eyed energy of Julian Cope circa ‘Fried’. Cope and the Bunnymen are reference points throughout, but ‘II’ also takes in the elegiac New Order of ‘Fluxus’, the Dean Wareham duelling Tom Verlaine solos of ‘Out Of Signal’, the Spiritualized lullaby of ‘Hush’, and the Harmonia- meets-pre-de nite-article-Verve of album closer ‘Memory Case’.