Now, working on my personal aim of including reviews here on Musique Review that are not all initiated through the wanton demands of the music industry public relation machine here’s a snapshot of the albums that have passed through the auditory canal in the last month or so,
Wild Beasts – Present Tense
There are lots of Depeche Mode-ish moody synths, plumy vocals and intense shoe-gazing going on here but to be fair you do tend to keep your head down in Kendal; usually into a gale force ‘breeze’. Cumbria’s Wild Beast are as ‘now’ and ‘chart-orientated’ as you are likely to get on Musique Review at the moment and I do like their style of introspection; just what the bedroom bound youth of today need to annoy their parents with. Excellent stuff.
Leagues – You Belong Here
Now I had to have a dig around but I did find what the intro of first track ‘Spotlight’ reminded me of –
Hard-Fi’s ‘Hard to Beat’. And thus Leagues immediately found themselves in the ‘come on then, impress me’ category that, in my house, usually sets a band up for a fall. Well, ‘You Belong Here’ did impress, to the extent that I have to say this is one of my album finds of 2014 so far. Leagues themselves consider their music to be infectious encouraging dancing and introspection. They’re not wrong. This is a cracking album.
Dan Croll – Sweet Disarray
Now, first a warning. If your earphones or speakers are not up to the mark, then this album will find them out. Seriously. Mr Croll’s music will test both treble and bass output to an extent I haven’t heard on an album for a while. Having graduated from Liverpool’s Institute for Performing Arts this is Dan Croll’s first album and it is a good ‘un. All the right pop targets are covered; songs about love and ‘Thinkin Aboutchu’, sing a long choruses and sweet vocals. Not sure how long it is since Newcastle-under-Lyme had a pop star to be proud of but if the next one isn’t Dan Croll, then there’s no justice in the world. There isn’t, to be fair, but what the heck.
New Young Pony Club – NYPC
It would appear that NYPC is both the name of the album and also a direction towards how the band would like to be known as in the future. The minimal name kind of goes with the sound of this album with the band having gone for a much more austere electro-sound than in the past. Not that that is a bad thing because this is a really good album filled with cracking electro-indie-dance tracks. I have liked New Young Pony Club’s past albums, and this is potentially their best so far. Check the band’s website for a couple of video’s to ‘Hard Knock’s’ and ‘Things Like You’.
Metronomy – Love Letters
Swaying from acoustic guitar love ballads to proper shoe-gazing electronica you might think this album is all over the place and some will want to describe it as eclectic just to be polite. Personally I think this is a great little album. There’s no spoiling you here, you get the standard ten tracks and that’s it, but there is a proper instrumental ‘Boy Racer’ and catchy lyrics and beats all over the place. I even like the way the recording of Anna Prior’s “Shoop, doop, doop ah” backing on ‘I’m Aquarius’ keeps in the little bit right at the end when you can hear her smiling while trying to finish off the recording. (Trust me, it’s there.) This is an inventive little masterpiece of British pop coolness. Buy it, you won’t be disappointed. ‘The English Riviera’ made the 2011 Mercury Prize nomination list; I fully expect ‘Love Letters’ to do the same.
Neil Finn – Dizzy Heights
Having been rather prolific during his time as Crowded House frontman, Neil Finn has been rather absent as of late. This is only his third solo album, the last being as far back as 2001. This new album is something of a family affair with wife Sharon on bass and sons Liam on guitar and Elroy on drums. And boy, was this worth the wait. This is Neil Finn at his very best and this has to rank as good a piece of work as he has ever released in my book. There’s all the usual song writing of the highest standard that you would expect but to go along with that is a freshness that I trust must be the influence of the two younger Finns; a new Finn brother duo for the future? We can but hope. Title track ‘Dizzy Heights’ is as smooth a piece of glossy pop as you’ll hear and you are often left thinking that you’re listening to Crowded House at their very best so good is some of the content here. I know, you think I’m laying it on a bit thick, but genuinely I really do think this album is that good. Actually, I’m off to listen to it again.