Review: Thirteen studio albums in, and 'Colors' sees Beck maybe at his most playful and upbeat since the late '90s. Title track 'Colors' opens the albums with an immediacy that bursts out like a heavily polished 'Devil's Haircut'. The album veers off in all kinds of pop directions, from the anthemic 'Seventh Heaven', to the almost trap-like 'Wow', Beck shows he's willing to experiment and wrangle as much as possible into an album. It might not be his most contemplative record, but it's definitely his glossiest and most entertaining in a while, and promises a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.
Review: The duo of Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore first struck pop gold in 2008 with an extravagant sound that took sweet-tooth pop hooks and burnished them in a particularly '80s style radiance. 'Two Vines', partially recorded in Hawaii, sees the twosome building on their trademark kaleidoscopic flourishes, grabbing the assistance of luminaries and kindred spirits like Lindsey Buckingham and Wendy Melvolin to capture a sun-kissed and seductive sound as rich in melody and melancholy as it is in texture and production sheen. Reclaiming the pop landscape with artistic sleight-of-hand, 'Two Vines' is proof that this duo's pop smarts as as colourful as Steele's outlandish wardrobe.
Review: Not many people would have put a bet on The Libertines making a third album, yet here it is, as bold as brass and portraying a band in the kind of rude health that would have been considered unthinkable a decade or so ago. Producer Jake Gosling, most famous as an A-list pop producer, may have polished the ditties of the Wilfred Owen-referencing 'Anthems For Doomed Youth' to a sheen, yet the band's ragtag charm and romantic bluster is still present and correct, and indeed the irony may be that beyond all the hyperbole and drug-fuelled acrimony of their heyday, the band appear to be firing on all cylinders now as never before.
Review: Co-frontman of The Last Shadow Puppets and former frontman of The Rascals, Miles Kane, presents his third solo full length album and first since 2013. His grace takes cues from Iggy Pop and David Bowie, no doubt and there's a punkish, disco dance appeal to title track "Coup De Grace" which leads fittingly into the post, electro punk of "Silverscreen" and then into the sing along melody of "Wrong Side Of Life". It's a three-part sequence which delivers the album's best moments. The scoundrel-like pretence in Kane's Merseyside music is here to be heard in full, and is his ode to the area's best if every present in the Beatle-dom of "Shavambacu".
Review: Kicking off with recited verses from Romeo And Juliet and barely scaling the drama down from that point onward, 'Hopeless Fountain Kingdom' is a relentlessly far-reaching album from the Jersey born artist formerly known as Ashley Frangipane. Yet in a pop landscape increasingly dominated by radio-ready blandness and empty soundbites, these soul-searching and angst-ridden ditties bear genuine emotional heft to match their super-producer gloss, arriving at an arrestingly synth-driven sound more Depeche Mode than Ellie Goulding, and dissecting her trials and travails in a manner that suggests a fearless and feral talent built to last. A widescreen tour-de-force from a very 21st-century pop star.
Review: Providing continual evolution to the greater aspects of how original folk music can be heard, sung and played, Andrew Bird's run of album's since Echolocations (2015) sees his character and sound venture in a world hallowed only by the likes of Father John Misty; that echolich ability to notate the sweet spots in notes with pangs of nostalgia. Alongside strings of country refrain and minimalism, folk guitars and dandy whislisture, there's a code to be cracked within the thematic of the album, putting paid to suggestion that Andrew Bird's latest work might actually be his best.
Review: The arrival of this first solo album from the My Morning Jacket frontman may have come as a surprise to some, given the fact that the band appears to be created so much in his image - what other sides of his personality exactly does he have to express? Quite a few as it turns out, as 'Eternally Even' crafts a seductive tapestry from narcotic mix of soul, funk and psychedelia, somewhere in spheres of consciousness between Isaac Hayes and The Flaming Lips, whilst offering his most explicitly political lyrics to date. The Trump victory may have rendered some of the sentiments herein a tad bittersweet, yet the hazy soundscapes and honeyed vocals have lost none of their lustre.
Review: London alt-rock trio Yak have revealed their much desired follow-up to their debut album, Alas Salvation. With new and old members jostled in and of the band during this album's rocky inception (including Tame Impala's Jay Watson), a rotated cast eventually ironed out its crinkles, and with the help of former Bjork and Django Django album producer, Marta Salogni, Yak's difficult second album, in 10 hectic days, was achieved. With both NME and Q magazine's tipping their nod of approval Yak's way, the steely, blue-eyed defiance of the trio dismiss any notion of the tired cliche that guitar music is a bygone thing. The freshest second album since Kasabian's Empire, Tame Impala's Lonerism and Bloc Party's A Weekend In The City.
Review: The third album from Marika Hackman, and arguably her most honest and exposed to date. An artist who has tangibly progressed from what was already a head start, it's a complex record that seems to be the sum of the artist's previous parts. A proud and forthright declaration of someone arriving at where they want to be wouldn't be putting it too far. It's scuzzy, desolate, bleak and then at the same time energetic, poised, guttural, disco. Tracks such as "Send My Love" couldn't be more emotionally charged, but nor could they be more inviting- somewhere between this life and the next- inviting and then visceral. Flip it and find "Conventional Ride" and "Come Undone" as two tracks that are entirely different but share one thing in common; a heartbreaking work of extraordinary genius.