Review: There's a reason that Massive Attack's Blue Lines frequently appears in "greatest albums" lists. To put it simply, it's brilliant, and arguably remains the Bristol-based outfit's finest work to date (though some would argue that the dark and paranoid Mezzanine is possibly better). As this weighty vinyl reissue proves, it's lost none of its hazy, dub-propelled trip-hop charm. All-time classics such as "Unfinished Sympathy", "Safe From Harm" and "Hymn of the Big Wheel" have lost none of their soulful, mood-enhancing brilliance, while lesser celebrated cuts such as "Five Man Army" and "Lately" still sound great despite their vintage.
Review: By the time they headed into the studio to record Protection, Massive Attack were still riding high on the success of their peerless debut album, Blue Lines. While the resultant set, released in 1994, does quite hit the same dizzying heights, it remains a thoroughly great album. Of course, we all know the highlights by heart - the stoned bounce of "Karmacoma", evocative downtempo bliss of Tracey Thorn hook-up "Protection", string-drenched lusciousness of "Sly", and the gentle dub-house soul of the Horace Andy-voiced "Spying Glass", for example - but even the forgotten album cuts (see "Weather Storm" and "Better Things") have aged remarkably well. If you don't own a copy on vinyl already, you definitely should.
Review: The Chemical Brothers are back with their 10th studio album (mixes and soundtracks not withstanding), and they're sounding especially fired up. The widescreen stadium psychedelia they've made their own spills out in abundance across "No Geography", but it's also matched with a feverish energy. The more up-tempo tracks, like "Gravity Drops" and "Eve Of Destruction", spit and snarl with the best of their classic, down and dirty dancefloor material, but there's plenty of space for the starry eyed songwriting they've made their own in more recent times. Just cop "The Universe Sent Me" and be immediately transported to a festival field, where you'll no doubt be catching The Bro's this summer.
Review: "Hyperspace" sees Beck venture further down the pop road, drafting in a wealth of high profile, stadium-filling collaborators to realise what's arguably his most synthesised work to date. Full marks to anyone who, upon blind taste test, immediately jumped to the conclusion this was indeed Beck. Fear not, that's less a result of his iconic and infinitely listenable voice not shining through, and more down to what else is in these arrangements. Working with legendary studio genius Pharrell Williams (who co-produced and co-wrote), you'll also find Coldplay's Chris Martin and Georgia, US rapper and drummer Terrell Hines involved here, amongst others. Together with these names we're taken into a soaring, immersive and glittering world of sophisticated but chart-friendly anthems, from clap-a-long number "Die Waiting", to the epic space-rock closer "Everlasting Nothing".
Review: Given Massive Attack's background, it was almost inevitable that they'd release a dub overhaul of one of their albums at one point. That time came in 1995, when British sound system legend Mad Professor - responsible for some of the greatest UK-made dub records of all time - put his distinctive twist on Protection. 21 years on, the set still sounds sublime: a radical translation that frequently bares only a passing resemblance to the Bristol band's original. It's packed with highlights, from the spaced-out, dub-house rework of "Spying Glass" ("I Spy"), to the ricocheting percussion hits and twinkling pianos of "Weather Storm (Cool Monsoon)", and creepy, delay-laden string surges of "Eternal Feedback (Sly)".
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.