After a brilliant first album, Alpha disappointingly misfired with 2001's 'The Impossible Thrill' where they mistook drowsiness for dreaminess. The relatively quick follow-up is now here and it actually sounds far less rushed than its predecessor. As soon as the second track 'Once Round Town' kicks in you realise that they have recovered their former greatness as regular contributor Wendy Stubbs trills over a luxuriant, cinematic backdrop. Following on, Martin Barnard is breathy and tremulous on the outstanding 'Lipstick From The Asylum'. Not wishing to be outdone, Helen White is sweetly seductive on the sumptuous romance of 'A Perfect End'. But to put the success of Alpha down to their - admittedly fine - singers would be to dismiss the arranging skills of Andy Jenks and Corin Dingley who go it alone on the texturally rich 'As Far As You Can' and 'Vers Toi' which features a sampled loop of a French chanteuse. The second part of 'Stargazing' is not quite up to the standard of the first (save for the stunning White-sung 'Blue Autumn') but it comfortably rises above the stifling soft-focus setting of the last album. Overall, this is much more like the modern Bacharach sound Alpha are trying to create.