My god, what is going on? Has music collectively entered some kind of…Hot Tub Time MachineTM over the past year? The 80s revivalism in the air would almost be suffocating were it not for the fact that it’s all really, really good. Not six months ago MONEY were invoking the spirit of Morrissey, Bono and Echo & the Bunnymen on their debut release; now, St.Vincent is channelling David Byrne and Prince, whilst Wild Beasts, with their fourth album, summon forth Tears for Fears and Orchestral Manouevures in the Dark from wherever 80s pop stars go to die. Maybe The Horrors unmemorable but stylish Skying was onto something after all? Continue reading
St. Vincent is a statement album. With her reputation secured after releasing three critical darlings, Annie Clark made her first move to the hallowed halls of ‘the crossover’ with 2012’s Love This Giant with David Byrne. Now very much out of the shadow of former collaborator Sufjan Stevens (he of fleeting Pitchfork acclaim and who no one really cared about), on her eponymous fourth album she’s declaring who she is and what she’s about – and doing it in style. Continue reading
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair; I have reviewed many an album and they hath been verily medicore. The first two here – Blank Realms and Against Me! – came out a while ago but are under the radar enough for proximity to release to be irrelevant. The third, Sun Structures by Temples, did the review rounds a few weeks ago, but has only seen release this week. In that time the band have started up a bit of a spat with NME because they complained they weren’t doing enough drugs. And, in fairness, that’s a totally stupid complaint to have about an album. I think they were trying to say they didn’t sound really, authentically 70s, but were also trying to sound hip and cool and edgy. And that’s why you are a shambling skeleton of an institution, NME. Continue reading
Beck’s a weird artist. By turns a so-bad-it’s-great folk-rap loser; an experimental, sample-heavy fusion of rocker and DJ; a trippy, 70s callback artist; and a melancholic, slow, airy indie sad-man.
Also, a scientologist.
On Morning Phase, his first proper release since 2008’s Modern Guilt (that ‘make your own music’ stuff is invalid on grounds of pretentiousness), he returns to the sweeping, lush sounds of Sea Change. Whilst I never really got the praise lavished on Morning Phase’s ‘companion piece’, it’s hard not to appreciate the widescreen, surround sound splendour of his return. A grand, ancient- sounding colossus of an album, Morning Phase is a breathtaking return to form. His most heavy, serious, mature and majestic album yet, it might also be his best. Continue reading
Fifa is the worst yearly franchise in gaming. As an iterative series – one that should pioneer refinement over revolution – it is a near total failure. That’s not to say the games are bad, they’re usually decent, but they are so much worse than they should be after two decades in the business. Looking at the failures of the franchise, I’ll take each aspect of the most recent game in turn and discuss how EA’s series has managed to be completely stagnant but ever-changing. Continue reading
Ah, so here we are at last: 20 days into the New Year and reflecting on all the things we didn’t do last year and should work on doing this year so that we inevitably fall behind on what we wanted to do this year and then do them the next year and then die.
What I’ve realised is that I didn’t review basically all the albums I actually wanted to do from the last 6 months of 2013. The following list is essentially a who’s who of albums I was excited about at this point last year, but then completely neglected to write about after listening to them. Except Darkside. I wasn’t excited about them. I didn’t even know who they are. I’m not sure my life is much better now I do actually.
Anyway, here’s a monument to my laziness (and some music too).
Also, now you can find all these reviews (and all the other ones I did when I wasn’t too lazy) in nice, lovely monthly groups. They’re tucked under that reviews menu in the Assorted Albums Almanac (alliteration!) thingy.
For a woman who just turned 51, Juana Molina still sounds remarkably youthful. Wed 21, her first album in five years, bounces and hops to the infectious vocal harmonies she weaves throughout its uniformly excellent tracks. More refined and alive than previous efforts, Wed 21 is a uniquely compelling piece of art-pop and one of the finest albums of the year. Continue reading