LILY ALLEN Alright, Still (EMI)
For an upbeat mix of sugar pop, ska and R&B, you'd be surprised at the level of post-relationship scorn and vitriol that's hotly packed into songs like Smile and the tellingly titled Not Big. Ouch!
EMILY HAINES & THE SOFT SKELETON Knives Don't Have Your Back (Last Gang)
She may be a steely-eyed ice queen, but judging by the vulnerable and lonely piano dirges on the Metric singer's solo debut, there's definitely a beating flesh heart in there somewhere.
MATES OF STATE Bring It Back (Barsuk)
Careful! Because Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel are actually lovey-dovey spouses, this may have an adverse effect of making your friends feel worse. On the other hand, the Mates' exhibitionistic, off-kilter pop, delivered with good spirits, could be the dose of optimism they desperately need.
MORRISSEY Ringleader Of The Tormentors (Sanctuary)
If your friends don't own some Morrissey or at least a Smiths record then you might reconsider whether your pals are worth the effort. Nevertheless, the effeminate king of self-pity and melodrama put out a new one this year that's predictably mopey in a fun way.
GRAM PARSONS & THE GRIEVOUS ANGELS The Complete Reprise Sessions (Rhino)
On this definitive reissue of his two solo albums, nobody laments love quite as effectively as Parsons, and the duets with Emmylou Harris will make the manliest man bawl. Love Hurts? Need I say more?