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Havergal is a young man named Ryan Murphy from Bedford, Texas -- an architect by day, a somewhat manic-depressive singer-songwriter by night. Tinny guitars, lo-fi loops and samples, mechanical drum beats, and painfully direct, honest songwriting comprise his music. Murphy's quirky, sometimes almost bouncy pop compositions provide an ironic counterpoint to his verge-of-tears vocal style and bleeding heart lyrics. And bleeding heart is a bit of an understatement on some of these numbers; Murphy's crooned topics range from the bitterness of unrequited love to the sickening hollowness of personal failure to the anguish of disenfranchisement from society. It could be a too bitter pill to swallow, were it not for the endearing quirkiness of Havergal's songs and the feeling you've been there so many times yourself. Fans of Arab Strap should give this stuff an immediate listen.

In addition to architecting and songsmithing, Murphy somehow finds the time to run the Western Vinyl label, which is where he released his first singles, "Crowd" b/w "Grant's Pass" and "How I Do" b/w "My Heart," both now out of print. 2001's Lungs for the Race, featuring the title track and "Fires in the Attic," is Havergal's first full-length.