One Minute Music Reviews 3

An overview of some of the most interesting albums to have come my way in the last three months.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – The Letting Go

Recorded in Iceland, ‘The Letting Go’ sparkles with a crystalline clarity. Oldham’s hoarse warble is augmented by a string quartet and Dawn McCarthy’s backing vocals to beautiful effect. Tracks like ‘Cursed Sleep, ‘Love Comes To Me’ and ‘The Seedling’ already sound like classics. (4.5/5)

The Dears – Gang Of Losers

The Dears’ third album might not have the immediacy of ‘No Cities Left’, but it is a complex, ambitious and ultimately rewarding collection of songs. The lyrical themes are big and broad – love, fear, rejection, racism and forgiveness, while the music is almost cinematic in scope. For full review click here. (4/5)

Figurines – Skeleton

Scandinavia continues to produce quality pop music. This four piece sound a lot like Modest Mouse or The Shins but actually come from Denmark. All fuzzy guitar and power-pop hooks, the album’s highlights include ‘The Wonder’, ‘Ambush’ and ‘Silver Ponds’. (3/5)

Herbert – Scale

Highly regarded UK producer Matthew Herbert’s latest project combines disco beats, jazzy horns, sumptuous strings and blue-eyed soul singing. And if that isn’t enough, he also manages to throw in some political commentary. It’s an extravagantly ambitious album that effortlessly glides from torch song to dance groove and back again. (4/5)

The Knife – Silent Shout

‘Silent Shout’ is not a ‘happy’ record and it’s not always a pleasure to listen to, but The Knife have successfully created their own unique sound world, with its own languages, landscapes and characters. Many artists have such an aim, but few achieve it with such style and originality. For full review click here. (3.5/5)

Grant Lee Phillips – nineteeneighties

The ‘covers’ album concept is rarely a recipe for success. Phillips’ fourth solo is one such rarity. He pays tribute to the artists who inspired him – Pixies, Nick Cave, New Order, Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen and others – by reinterpreting some of their lesser known tunes. Somehow, he manages to retain the essence of the songs while making them sound exactly like Grant Lee Phillips. (3.5/5)

Scritti Politti – White Bread, Black Beer

‘White Bread Black Beer’ is Scritti’s most diverse album yet, a rich smorgasbord of sounds, from squelchy dub reggae to Beatlesque electro-folk. After three decades in the music business – from post-punk to new pop to hip hop – Green Gartside seems relaxed and comfortable and quite happy doing whatever comes to him. For full review click here. (3.5/5)

The Sleepy Jackson – Personality

The second Sleepy Jackson album is a dreamy, string-soaked affair reminiscent of the Beach Boys, Beatles and 70s AOR. Luke Steele’s meditations on God, the Devil and everything in-between are miniature pop-symphonies, laced with celestial horns and a chorus of angels. (4/5)

Sufjan Stevens – The Avalanche

Stevens blesses us with another 74 minutes of music from last year’s ‘Illinois’ project. While presented as ‘Extras and Outtakes’, songs like ‘Dear Mr Supercomputer’, ‘Springfield’ and ‘Mistress Witch from McClure’ would make any ordinary artist’s A-list. Further proof of Stevens’ genius. (4/5)

Tapes ‘n’ Tapes – The Loon

This Minneapolis quartet has been described by some overenthusiastic music press as this year’s Arcade Fire. One of the few things they do share with the Canadian band is a knack for melding moods and styles – from the rockabilly shuffle of ‘Insistor’ to the scratchy guitar bursts of ‘Crazy Eights’. (3.5/5)

Thom Yorke – The Eraser

Thom Yorke’s debut solo album is an extension of the moody electronica of Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’ and ‘Amnesiac’. It’s as cynical and pessimistic as one would expect, but it is also intimate and even bleakly beautiful. Highlights include ‘Black Swan’ and the grim ‘Harrowdown Hill’. (3.5/5)

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