Albums of the week

This week’s

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    La Roux - Trouble In Paradise
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    Release Name
    Trouble In Paradise
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by La Roux
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    $5.00
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    What got you talking in 2009? It might well have been the dance routines in Glee, or the vivid colors of Slumdog Millionaire, or perhaps the impending threat of a swine flu pandemic. Whatever you were discussing in the club, it’s more than likely that La Roux’s eponymous debut was blaring out in the background. Five years, two World Cups and one pretty major line-up change later, Elly Jackson’s back with the long-overdue follow-up. Christened "Trouble In Paradise", its title serves as both a reference to the departure of silent partner Ben Langmaid, and as an indication of the exotic sounds within. Drawing on dancehall, reggae and yacht-rock, this is 80s synth-pop with a totally tropical taste and – as such – is perfectly placed to soundtrack the summer of 2014.


Previous weeks

  • Cover Art
    Jungle - Jungle
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    Release Name
    Jungle
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Jungle
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    $9.99
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    Pro tip for young bands: to stand out, work just as hard on your visual identity as you do your songs. For proof the approach works, look no further than this enigmatic, West London collective: by complementing their colorful grooves with immaculately-choreographed promos – depicting b-boying 6-year-olds, rollerblading duos and street dance ensembles – Jungle have become one of the most written-about acts of recent years. Judging by the infectious mix of futuristic funk and soul on their debut, sustaining everyone’s attention shouldn’t prove problematic either.

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    Slow Club - Complete Surrender
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    Release Name
    Complete Surrender
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Slow Club
    Price
    $9.99
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    Review

    As if subscribing to the theory that “slow and steady wins the race”, Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor have spent the best part of a decade incrementally improving as songwriters, and gradually growing their fan base. It would now appear the duo have finally lost patience, because their third LP is the aural equivalent of a sprint finish. Gone are the ramshackle indie-folk ditties of Yeah So and Paradise, and in their place are shiny, 60s-inspired pop hits that truly showcase the power and beauty of Taylor’s voice. Ranging from the Motown-endebted "Suffering Me, Suffering You" to the Bond theme-shimmy of the title track – via the Bacharach-esque swing of "Not Mine To Love" – Complete Surrender proves an utterly irresistible listen.

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    Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear
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    Release Name
    1000 Forms Of Fear
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Sia
    Price
    $7.99
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    Review

    Brought to the brink of suicide by bipolar disorder and alcoholism, Sia Furler shelved her solo career in 2010 and shifted her focus to penning material for others. Four years on, she’s one of the most in-demand songwriters in the industry, working regularly with Beyoncé, Britney and Katy Perry, and responsible for number ones for Rihanna and David Guetta. Incredibly, this sixth solo album suggests she’s actually been sneakily keeping all the best material back for herself. From the Diplo-assisted bounce of "Elastic Heart" to the Strokes-y pop-rock of "Hostage" – via the vaulting, emotional rollercoaster that is "Chandelier" – every single track here has "SMASH HIT" scrawled all over it. This might well be the best pop album of 2014.

  • Cover Art
    Ed Sheeran - x
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    Release Name
    x
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Ed Sheeran
    Price
    $11.99
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    Review

    First we had +, now we have x (meaning multiply); give it a couple more years and this plucky young troubadour might even have mastered his long division. To be fair to the lad, the only time he probably needs use maths nowadays is to count the millions of units he’s shifting, and with his Timberlake-tastic comeback "Sing" smashing straight in at the top of the carts, it’s a statistical trend that’s only set to continue. Offering a radio-friendly mix of R&B, rock and hip hop – plus collaborations with super-producers Pharrell Williams, Rick Rubin and Benny Blanco – Sheeran’s second studio album will be one of the year’s biggest sellers, just you mark our words.

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    Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
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    Release Name
    Ultraviolence
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Lana Del Rey
    Price
    $11.99
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    Despite undeniable glimmers of brilliance, Lana Del Rey’s genre-hopping debut often painted a picture of an artist trying too hard to be everything to everyone, all at once. Happily, quite the contrary is true of Ultraviolence. Swapping hip hop beats and a team of musical advisors for a seven-piece band, a string section and producer Dan Auerbach, Del Rey picks the perfect musical palette for her intoxicating tales of doomed romance, and succeeds in enveloping the listener in her dimly-lit world throughout.

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    Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour
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    Release Name
    In The Lonely Hour
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Sam Smith
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    $9.99
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    Review

    Sam Smith is good. We know this not only because the industry tells us so (see his recent BRITs and BBC Sound of 2014 wins), but because he’s had actual chart smashes. There’s certainly no knocking his voice either; it’s velvety-smooth, and adept at all sorts of tricky runs and riffs. If we have one reservation about debut set In The Lonely Hour, it’s that its FM-friendly soul posits Smith closer to Emeli Sandé than it does former-collaborators Disclosure. Saying this, that tried-and-tested formula hasn’t done Sandé any harm, has it? World domination beckons.

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    Linkin Park - The Hunting Party
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    Release Name
    The Hunting Party
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Linkin Park
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    $11.99
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    Putting paid to the presumption that musicians generally mellow with age, Linkin Park are back with one of their most aggressive records to date. As Mike Shinoda explained to Rolling Stone Magazine in April, The Hunting Party was inspired by reconnecting with the work of Refused, At The Drive-In and Gorilla Biscuits, and created with a shared goal to “weed out the soft, emo approach” and “f*ck [listeners] up.” Expect heavy riffs, piledriving percussion and cameos from Rakim and System Of A Down’s Daron Malakian.

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    Jack White - Lazaretto
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    Release Name
    Lazaretto
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Jack White
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    $10.99
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    As an artist famed for his seemingly indefatigable work ethic, it might come as a shock to learn that Jack White was beset by writer’s block post-Blunderbuss. Of course, he still conquered his creative drought quicker than most – reportedly by revisiting the self-penned poems and plays of his youth – but that fleeting sense of jeopardy has subtly left its mark on Lazaretto. From incendiary instrumental "High Ball Stepper" to the schizoid funk of the title track, White’s second solo set positively fizzes with nervous energy, and it makes for a thrilling listen.

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    First Aid Kit - Stay Gold (Explicit Content – Parental Advisory)
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    Release Name
    Stay Gold (Explicit Content – Parental Advisory)
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by First Aid Kit
    Price
    $8.99
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    Review

    Is there a lovelier vocal pairing than Johanna and Klara Söderberg? Answers on a postcard, please, because we’re struggling to come up with one right now. Having broken through – and broken hearts – with the warm country-folk on The Lion’s Roar, the follow-up finds the Swedish sisters packing maximum emotional punch, bolstering their tear-stained compositions with a 13-piece orchestra. Offering classic songwriting and swoon-inducing harmonies in spades, Stay Gold is an absolute joy from start to finish.

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    Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal
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    Release Name
    Sunbathing Animal
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Parquet Courts
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    $8.99
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    Review

    Gratifying as it must be to score a smash hit debut, artistically, there’s a lot to be said for biding your time. Take Parquet Courts: it’s taken four years, two albums and an EP for the Brooklyn punks to truly shed that “cult curiosity” tag, but they’re now more than ready to claim the spotlight, armed with the support of Rough Trade Records and the kind of confidence only earned through hard graft and sheer, bloody-minded belief. Gleefully-cacophonous signature sound cemented long ago, Sunbathing Animal was never going to be about confounding listeners with surprises; it’s purpose was hammering home the message that Parquet Courts are a guitar band worth shouting about it. Job done, and then some.