Swedish ambient electronic artist The Field’s third album really is a thing of beauty.
The album is a mere 7 tracks long but the tracks are sprawling, lengthy tracks with fantastic sonic build ups and some great hooks.
The opener, ‘Is This Power' has a driving rhythm which it maintains throughout the track with a great synth riff, before a simplistic, echoing guitar riff is introduced. This is a fantastic opener which pulled me in straight away.
On tracks like ‘It’s Up There’ there’s a degree of nostalgia but the LP feels like something fresh and new at the same time. Again there’s still this driving rhythm which defines the track.
One of my favourite tracks ‘Burned Out' builds up from a simple idea to a fully fleshed out song with some buried vocals that really suit the song and instrumentation and vocals find an excellent harmony.
Maybe one criticism I would have is that the vocals are left out for most of this LP, and when they are used we have seen how excellent they actually are and the potential they have.
However the instrumentals on this album are excellent, fragile techno songs that never seem to drag on with the exception of closer 'Sweet Slow Baby', a really repetitive track that doesn’t hold my interest like the other tracks do.
THE FIELD / LOOPING STATE OF MIND / 8/10
Well everyone was pretty surprised by the news that legendary x-Velvet Undergound member Lou Reed was to collaborate with heavily criticised metal band Metallica and release an LP.
Well here we are, and yes - it is the terrible album you were expecting.
What’s wrong with this? It’s just a mess. Lou Reed’s vocals are just absolutely murdered by heavy metal guitar and drums. Example: ‘Mistress Dread’. There is just the same horrible riff repeated over and over while Lou Reed ambles through some lyrics that have no degree of memorablility at all and there’s no cohesion whatsoever.
I am a fan of Lou Reed, but his lyrics here are AWFUL in places. ‘Pumping Blood' is just a horribly generic collection of metal sounding lyrics again lacking any sort of cohesion as they're said with the instrumentation. 'Like the magnets set before me… they attract and repell you', what a horrible lyric from the man who wrote 'Satellite Of Love'. Another example is on 'Iced Honey'; ‘you can’t keep a butterfly in a jar’, seriously Lou, is this a joke?
Sorry, but this is probably one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard. I hate nearly everything about it, even the cover art makes me want to throw up. This is just such a hideous thing to come from people who’ve made some brilliant records.
LOU REED & METALLICA / LULU / 0/10
All-girl supergroup Wild Flag’s announcement of existence alone prompted a massive explosion in interest all across the indie blogosphere, and now we have the full LP.
Lead single and first track ‘Romance' really endeared me to the project as the first track I heard of Wild Flag, a fast-paced track with a rebellious chorus that really spelled FUN.
'Wild Flag' is admittedly a very self-indulgent album, with an emphasis on solos (great solos they are though) and the band really give the impression that they are just doing whatever the hell they want.
But when we are left with such nostalgic, simply brilliant rock songs who is complaining?
There’s not a track on here to be filed anywhere underneath ‘good’, and this album doesn’t drag on like some albums tend to.
The brilliance of this is really topped off in it’s simplicity, as it might have been spoiled had it been subjected to over-the-top production methods; but the production is good in leaving the musicians to their own devices to a certain extent.
This is a riotious, rabble-rousing album that is quite possibly the most fun thing to come out this year.
WILD FLAG/ WILD FLAG/ 8.5/10
This is french electronic music pioneer M83’s sixth album, with a lengthy double album of 22 tracks.
The album has some great tracks and Anthony Gonzales transports the listener to synth heaven on ‘Midnight City’, one of the best tracks on the album, and I really enjoyed ‘Claudia Lewis' too. Both of these tracks have memorable, catchy riffs and soaring, euphoric choruses. Possibly my highlight of this album is 'This Bright Flash' where there's a massive wall of sound with driving, high-tempo drums that really make it a stellar track for me.
However this feels like a confused album, as some tracks really don’t feel at home on this LP, like ‘Splendour' which attempts to combine piano intimacy and a choir, but only succeeds in creating a boring track that just sticks out like a sore thumb.
Also in places Gonzales’ vocals are quite poor, just sounding a little whiny. This isn’t the case on some of my favoured tracks however.
The thing that saves this LP from mediocrity is its good instrumentation on many of the tracks, although the album’sok, length glaubs many of the tracks into one, making it not the memorable album it could have been if only cut down more.
M83 / HURRY UP, WE’RE DREAMING / 6/10
This is the debut LP from British boy/girl duo Big Deal; comprised of KC Underwood and Alice Costelloe, out on Mute Records.
This is very stripped back, just two guitars and two voices the whole time - which is great in a time of effects being lathered on and drowning out any music there ever was.
The album is one of simplicity, with lyrics of homework and seeing each other after school, its teenage angst at its most honest - and very best. The album conceals nothing and its just an album of sweet, sweet songs.
I’m really liking several of these songs, like ‘Distant Neighbourhood’, ‘Swoon’, ‘Talk’, ‘Chair’ and ‘Homework’.
Released at a perfect time in the twilight of the summer, this album will see you right; it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with this album.
BIG DEAL/ LIGHTS OUT/ 8.5/10
This is the third album from Staines collective Hard-Fi, following up their stellar debut album ‘Stars Of CCTV’ and second ‘Once Upon A Time In The West’.
So here we are, after their four year hiatus, with ‘Killer Sounds’.
The ‘cool kids’ won’t like this one bit.
This album will take you on a raucous, rebel-rousing journey; it’s great fun! Although this certainly isn’t pushing a lot of boundaries its not a bad listen at all. The tracks are a bit hit ‘n’ miss at times, but when it hits its not bad on tracks like the indie-world mash up of ‘Feels Good’.
Richard Archer’s lyricism is pretty terrible to be honest, but its not what got them popular in the first place so what can we really expect. Lyrics on previous work is much better though I find.
Top tracks are ‘Feels Good’, ‘Fire In The House’ and ‘Love Song’.
It’s not big, it’s not clever, but it’s hard to hate ‘Killer Sounds’.
HARD-FI/ KILLER SOUNDS/ 6/10
After an album with Test Icicles, two under the moniker Lightspeed Champion, Dev Hynes is back as Blood Orange this time.
It is not difficult to see why he has changed names for this album, as the folk-pop flourishes of Lightspeed Champion have been replaced by a chilled pop sound - influenced a lot it seems by his relocation to the big apple.
And indeed, the songs on here are simply great pop songs, and ‘Coastal Grooves’ could basically be your summer soundtrack.
It is a pretty minimalist album, with basically just bass, guitar, vocals and some synth every now and again which is very tastefully used I feel, not too forceful; a nice accompanyment - not an obstusive distraction.
The production has been done well to keep the synths like this, and I like how this album hasn’t been over-polished and preened, and this is part of what gives this album it’s charming edge. The sounds are managed in such a way by the producer so that they don’t end up flat - just a lovely chilled sound.
Maybe the album has a few uninspriring moments, possibly the fifth track, ‘S’cooled’, which just seems a bit sluggish to me.
Despite this, I enjoyed the album and it’s a nice simple listen.
BLOOD ORANGE/ COASTAL GROOVES/ 7/10