One Minute Music Reviews

A selection of the most interesting new albums to come my way so far this year.

Arctic Monkeys – ‘Whatever You Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’

Yes, they have been massively over-hyped, and, yes, they are just a glorified pub-punk band, but the Arctic Monkeys also write clever, catchy pop songs about urban life as teenagers in 00s England. Their sound isn’t particularly interesting or original, but they’re still well worth a listen. (3/5)

Belle & Sebastian – ‘The Life Pursuit’

Soul, funk, glam and much more adorn the latest offering from Scottish music ensemble Belle & Sebastian. It’s a celebration of 70s pop and superior songwriting. For full review click here. (4/5)

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – ‘Ballad of the Broken Seas’

Former Belle & Sebastian vocalist/cellist, Isobel Campbell and Screaming Trees frontman, Mark Lanegan, (the most unusual musical pairing since Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue) combine to produce a collection of haunting tunes about love, loneliness and despair. An overwhelming success. (4/5)

Cat Power – ‘The Greatest’

Chan Marshall relocates to Memphis and records the best album of her career. Veteran soul backing musicians provide a richness and polish to her songs sometimes missing from previous outings. Highlights include ‘The Greatest’, ‘Love & Communication’, ‘Living Proof’ and ‘Lived In Bars’. (4/5)

The Concretes – ‘In Colour’

Despite luke-warm reviews in the UK and US this second album is not much different to the band’s critically lauded earlier material. A little more polished perhaps, but tracks like ‘On Their Radio’, ‘Sunbeams’ and ‘Chosen One’ retain all the charm that made them so appealing in the first place. (3/5)

The Flaming Lips – ‘At War With The Mystics’

Not really the protest album that we’d been expecting, but a fine collection of songs all the same. ‘Mystics’ bristles with the kind of invention and wonder we’ve come to expect from the Flaming Lips. For full review click here. (4/5)

Jenny Lewis & the Watson Twins – ‘Rabbit Furcoat’

Rilo Kiley singer, Jenny Lewis, and friends record an album of gospel, country and folk tinged songs, including, most unusually, a version of the Travelling Wilbury’s ‘Handle with Care’, which features guest vocalists Conor Oberst and Death Cab’s Ben Gibbard. The seeds of an indie-supergroup? (3.5/5)

Secret Machines – ‘Ten Silver Drops’

Often described by critics as ‘Pink Floyd-prog meets Krautrock’ this New York-based trio deserve better. Yes, their songs are long and their sound is big, but at heart these are (mostly) just great pop songs. Highlights include ‘Lightning Blue Eyes’, ‘Daddy’s in the Doldrums’ and ‘I Hate Pretending’. (3.5/5)

Stereolab – ‘Fab Four Suture’

As much as I love Stereolab it’s getting really difficult to tell one of their albums from the next. This latest release is no better or worse than ‘Sound-Dust’ or ‘Margerine Eclipse’. Standout tracks include ‘Vodiak’, ‘Sunny Rainphase’ and ‘Kybernetcika Babicka’ but beyond that it’s ‘business as usual’. (3/5)

The Strokes – ‘First Impressions of Earth’

After the unfair critical mauling of ‘Room on Fire’ The Strokes return with an overly self-conscious attempt to overcome the stigma of ‘Is This It?’ It’s a (mostly) disappointing and patchy affair. For full review click here. (2.5/5)

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – ‘Show Your Bones’

The much-anticipated follow up to their debut album ‘Fever To Tell’ sees the band expanding their sound palette to include synthesizers, programmed beats and piano, while both Karen O’s vocals and Nick Zinner’s guitars are more restrained and reflective. Depending on your taste, this is either a good thing or a bad thing. I, for one, think this an excellent album. (3.5/5)

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