Albums of the week

This week’s

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    Jessie Ware - Tough Love
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    Release Name
    Tough Love
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Jessie Ware
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    $6.99
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    Aside from those exquisitely-honeyed tones, what has always set Jessie Ware apart from her peers is her excellent taste in collaborators. On Devotion, they included Julio Bashmore, Dave Okumu and Kid Harpoon, and for Tough Love they’re joined by new pals Dev Hynes, Miguel, James Ford and Ed Sheeran. Ironically, with its gospel choir and cloying strings, the over-sentimental, Sheeran co-write is by far the weakest thing here. Gloss over that and you’ve a supremely classy, 21st century soul record on your hands, filled with bittersweet melodies and all manner of quirky production touches.

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    Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were
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    Release Name
    I Forget Where We Were
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Ben Howard
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    Being an acoustic balladeer and avid surfer, Devon lad Ben Howard has always been beleaguered by lazy comparisons to Jack Johnson. This second studio album should help Howard put some blue sky between himself and the Hawaiian troubadour. More ambitious in its scope than 2011 debut Every Kingdom, I Forget Where We Were finds the BRIT Award-winner plugging-in, letting go creatively, and showcasing a more complex side to his songwriting in the process. Thematically, his subject matter is as heart-on-sleeve as ever, but then you wouldn’t want it any other way, would you?

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    Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused
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    Release Name
    Soused
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Scott Walker + Sunn O)))
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    Scott Walker working with drone metal legends Sunn O)))? Yes, it’s the kind of collaboration that makes you double-take, but look deeper and you’ll see they’re both driven by a desire to displace the listener in their malevolent – often brutal – soundscapes. The Walker-penned, Sunn O)))-aided Soused is no exception. Whips crack, dissonant saxophones wail and doomy riffs reverberate, while Walker makes primal subjects seem poetic with vivid imagery and that gloriously-grandiose baritone. Oppressive as it unquestionably gets at times, overall Soused feels less foreboding than Bish Bosch or Monoliths + Dimensions, and yet is arguably more mesmeric than either.


Previous weeks

  • Cover Art
    Kindness - Otherness
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    Release Name
    Otherness
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Kindness
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    $10.99
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    Review

    Offering a warm, woozy take on vintage funk, house and R&B, World You Need A Change Of Mind was one of the most underrated albums of 2012, and remains one of our favorite debuts of the decade so far. Happily, it transpires that the follow-up is every bit as engaging, despite being a pretty different proposition sonically. Finding Adam Bainbridge dropping the tempo, digging even deeper into his record collection, and enlisting the talent of guest vocalists Robyn, Kelela and Tawiah, Otherness is a smokier, more soulful record than its predecessor. It’s almost as if it was custom-designed to be played post-club...

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    Caribou - Our Love
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    Release Name
    Our Love
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Caribou
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    Last seen indulging his techno urges as Daphni, Dan Snaith now returns to the day job for the follow-up to 2010’s universally-adored Swim. Spoiler alert: Our Love is arguably even better. Demonstrating a technical prowess and imaginative scope that eludes most producers, Snaith glides effortlessly between styles and moods, leaving a trail of soulful slow jams and rainbow-hued dance cuts in his wake. Ranging from the sultry R&B of "Second Chance" to the floor-friendly dopamine rush of "Can’t Do Without You", Our Love is likely the most deeply-human electronic album you’ll hear this year.

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    SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    Wonder Where We Land
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by SBTRKT
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    $9.99
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    In an age where acts are lauded, forgotten and usurped at a staggering pace, spending too long out of the spotlight can seem a risky tactic. The question is, would you rather rush-release something half-baked to remain in the public consciousness, or take your time with the finer details and hope your audience waits for you? Commendably, Aaron Jerome opted for the more courageous approach, and it’s a gamble that’s paid off. Mixing up techno, house and soul with jazz, hip-hop and worldbeat, Wonder Where We Land is even more wide-reaching than its predecessor. It’s also jam-packed with fascinating collaborations, featuring old pals Sampha and Jessie Ware, and new friends Ezra Koenig, Rauri and A$AP Ferg.

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    Tove Lo - Queen Of The Clouds (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    Queen Of The Clouds
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Tove Lo
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    $9.99
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    After Little Dragon, First Aid Kit and Lykke Li, another Swede drops her highly anticipated album, easily the most refreshing electro-pop debut in recent memory. This shouldn’t come as a surprise; Tove Lo has demonstrated her writing skills by crafting hits for Lea Michelle, Cher Lloyd and Icona Pop and infectious first single “Stay High (Habits)” set the tone for ace production values and in-your-face lyrics. Being filler-free and executed with plentiful zest and oomph, Queen Of The Clouds effortlessly puts several pop veterans’ recent projects into shame.

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    The Script - No Sound Without Silence
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    Release Name
    No Sound Without Silence
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by The Script
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    “We’ve had time to contemplate about what we want to say to the industry... You can't have anything good to say if you don't think about it first.” So said Script frontman Danny O’Donoghue, when asked by the Belfast Telegraph to explain their fourth album’s philosophical title. Basically, every single note here has been carefully considered to bring the listener a true reflection of The Script in 2014. Funnily enough, it turns out The Script of 2014 aren’t too dissimilar to The Script of 2012 – or 2010 for that matter – which can only be good news for fans of anthemic pop-rock.

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    alt-J - This Is All Yours (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    This Is All Yours
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by alt-J
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    $9.99
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    Really, the recent departure of lead-songwriter and “silent leader” Gwil Sainsbury should have spelled the end for Alt-J. Then again, when have they ever played by the rules? On the follow-up to their Mercury Prize-winning debut, the trio continue to laugh in the face of conventional song-structures and subject matter, offering up atypical arrangements and intricate rhythms, plus a song about self-love, an ode to "Aliens", crisp packet-based sexual innuendo and a Miley Cyrus sample. The maddest thing about all of this is that, taken together, it works. Simply jam-packed with ideas, This Is All Yours is a fascinating a comeback.

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    Aphex Twin - Syro
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    Release Name
    Syro
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Aphex Twin
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    Writ in the skies, buried in the deep web, the announcement of Richard D James’ return was more than clever marketing: it served as a metaphor for the career of an artist who has consistently reached further – and whose influence on contemporary music runs deeper – than any other electronic musician. Arriving over a decade on from Drukqs, Syro suggests James is still happiest operating without boundaries, offering up skewed, arrhythmic takes on techno, jungle and funk in the same breath as an "Avril 14th"-esque piano piece. Predictably, it makes for a thrillingly unpredictable listen.

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    Lia Ices - Ices
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    Release Name
    Ices
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Lia Ices
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    How many albums have you heard that were inspired by “Persian percussion, hip hop beats, lo-fi, hi-fi, Pakistani pop, Link Wray, Jason Pierce, gospel, dub.” Few, if any. On her third LP, Lia Ices takes that exact rag-tag rabble of reference points and – with a little help from producer Clams Casino – splices them together across a set of delightfully off-kilter electronic pop. Brimming with brilliantly-executed ideas, and showcasing a sonic range that extends from the beatific bounce of "Higher" to the rolling groove of "Waves", Ices should offer ample solace to any music lovers currently mourning the absence of Bat For Lashes and El Perro Del Mar.

  • Cover Art
    Banks - Goddess (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    Goddess
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Banks
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    $7.99
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    Cast your mind back to the beginning of January, and you might remember us tipping this Californian singer-songwriter for big things in our Ones To Watch feature. Happily, here she is, nearly nine months on, vindicating our faith. Offering up emotionally-bruised, electronic R&B – topped with sultry vocals and production by SOHN, T.E.E.D. and Lil Silva – Goddess is as slick a debut as you’ll hear this year.

  • Cover Art
    Interpol - El Pintor
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    Release Name
    El Pintor
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Interpol
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    $9.90
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    Review

    Sonic reinvention is often prized as the Holy Grail, but it’s arguably as impressive when an artist can pioneer a sound distinctly their own and then steadfastly stick to it, without ever appearing unadventurous. Bar a few subtle refinements, Interpol have largely done just that, and five albums into their career they’re still transcending the Zeitgeist with their trademark, Bunnymen-meets-Joy Division murkiness. What sets this record apart from 2010’s self-titled LP, however, is the renewed passion with which they’re attacking songs. It’d be tempting to call El Pintor a return to form, except they never really lost it, did they?