LeftWithPicturesThree years on from their first EP Making Chalk, and a year on from second EP Secretly, which really saw them gain pace, this debut is a big deal. Beyond Our Means, as it turns out, is neither a revolutionary leap forward nor a catastrophe - it is rather, in a more run-of-the-mill turn, a strong and enjoyable consolidation of what the band have done up to now. So, I say delicately, I can't help but feel that given the expectations hanging on this record, it's slightly disappointing.There are a few explanatory facts that make up a lot of that disappointment. Firstly, three of the tracks here aren't new. "Every Stitch, Every Line" and "Her Father's Nose" constituted a double A-side recently, and "1, 2, 3... Go!" has already been released twice, most recently as a standalone digital single. These songs are all great, and will only lack freshness (obviously) for those who are already familiar with them - nevertheless, they leave just nine new songs here. Secondly, this is an extremely concise album. The longest song is 3:33, meaning that we don't have a lot of time to luxuriate in here. Thirdly, the tracklisting is dominated by some of the slowest, most downbeat songs LWP have yet produced.None of these facts are crises, or even particularly bad. But they do mean that Beyond Our Means is undeniably not as fresh, substantial or exciting as it would be in an ideal world. What I must stress after all this apparently condemnatory preamble though, is that Beyond Our Means is also great.These songs are so brief, alternating so rapidly between disparate styles and themes, that if you blink, you'll miss 'em. In a way, the album reminds me of that brilliant EP The Acorn put out at Christmas time, Ear Worms. The songs here are nowhere near as short as those tiny 30 second experiments, but there's still a feeling that these are hasty sketches, lovely little spurts of music that aren't meant to subscribe to some spectacular overriding structure. In fact the album makes me want to shuffle and repeat it, which in an odd but possibly helpful comparison is normally how I listen to the first Clash record.After the singles, the best tracks here are probably the last two, the title track and the closer "Ghosts of '89". "Beyond Our Means" clearly has a romantic angle, lyrically, but it's also possible to see parts of it as a (possibly accidental) mirror of the world's current financial fustercluck. The chorus is as pretty as any LWP have bestowed upon us before, more universalist than ever, buoyed by a clever and gradual increase in instrumentation. "Ghosts of '89" is a wonderfully haunting little thing, sparse and icy in its slow-motion fairground nostalgia. Whilst they may not have re-scaled the heights of the best of Secretly (ie, its title track and "Boats" in particular) Left With Pictures have produced a smart, sweet breeze of a record. Short it may be, but it's a treat you'll come back to.