AS leader of late-Nineties don’t-you-dare-tag-us-as-Britpop band Mansun, Paul Draper always made for one of the more interesting frontmen, combining his idiosyncrasies and acerbic nature with matt-black humour and kitchen-sink realism.

The post-Mansun days have often been musically and personally difficult ones for the Liverpudlian, but the intensity and hunger with which he lays into his debut solo album suggest a new beginning built on old foundations.

Much of the first half of Spooky Action – great title, by the way – could have slotted into his former band’s impressive canon of early work, from the bold, intricate, slow-building opener Don’t Poke The Bear to the spiralling, synth-propelled Jealousy Is A Powerful Emotion and Who’s Wearing The Trousers, and the sheer melody of Grey House.

Admittedly, the latter stages often descend into below-average pub rock; this is an album top-heavy with invention and Draper could have done with saving more for the end. But it’s a hugely accomplished return; never less than intriguing, with the ability to display just the right amount of swagger.