Kasabian, fresh off their most critically acclaimed album, returning to their electro roots with an explosive, trance-inspired mash of summer anthems. It can’t go wrong, can it? Well, they could become painfully self-reflexive and like, name the album after the length of the album or something (Serge Pizzorno is an ‘artiste’ now, which means he’s somewhat up his own arse). And they could try and make their usually terrible lyrics at once sexualised and politicised, creating some weird, disjointed mix of party antics and anti-system vitriol delivered with typical Leicester-accented panache. And they could go for more of a brainless hammering of vaguely ellectronic noises rather then the intricately layered atmospherics of their stupendous debut. Oh, they’ve done all of those things? Well, there’s always the instrumentals. Continue reading
I’m gonna try something crazy here and stage the unimaginable – a double review. See, the problem is, I want to review both the new Lana Del Rey album and the new Sharon Van Etten album, but they’re pretty much the same. They’re both completely miserable women being completely miserable amidst a flood of guitars and atmospheric sounding filler. They’re both pretty good, but I couldn’t review one without comparing it to the other. So instead this is happening. These two New Yorkers might seem worlds apart – Del Rey, the chart-topping star who cashed in on her sadness with splash Born to Die; Van Etten, a gloomy indie songstress releasing her fourth album – but musically they’re bound by the same principles of downbeat soulfulness with a poppy, rocky edge. Continue reading
So many albums. So so many albums. So so many things, generally. The last few months have been a haze of essays, exams and mutilated sleep patterns, all soundtracked by a weird mix of Beyonce, Deerhunter, St.Vincent, Owen Pallett, songs from Adventure Time, and the occasional strategic burst of Future Islands to jump-start my mind. I also got to see Annie Clark roll around on the floor like a total idiot on Jools Holland and make me feel bad about yet another person I find cool; hear Kasabian’s new, dubiously dancey, horrifyingly laddish (well, the video anyway) single ‘EEZ-EH'(Christ); and, of course, see a bearded woman win Eurovision.
I also got to fall completely behind all musical developments except for the ones I really care about – by which I mean Owen Pallett. But that’s probably for the best, since, as my review of The War on Drugs will show, I’ve also become hopelessly bored by miserable, bearded white guys singing over slightly lo-fi music. Unfortunately that seems to constitute most music nowadays, or at least a weirdly disproportionate amount of the music that gets good reviews. That hasn’t stopped me listening to everything Bradford Cox does, though, but then again he doesn’t have a beard and his misery is sort of justified by being born with a deformity.
Anyway, a bounty of reviews. Too many reviews some would say. Most would say that, truth be told. Continue reading
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