Saturday, 30 June 2012

June Playlist / Round Up

Hello everyone, thanks for sticking with us throughout the month of June!

And what an excellent month it's been for new music, with reviews on our site of albums we've enjoyed from the likes of Edward Sharpe, O. Children, Citizens!, Metric, Momus and DIIV

But here are the June releases that really stood out to us, as well as a spotify playlist to delight yourself with an eclectic mix of 10 exceptional tracks we've been rinsing this month. Roll on July!
Liars - WIXIW  (
full review here)


"every chop and change, and moment of apocalyptic brooding is visionary and carries thousands of times more depth than most modern experimental outfits. This is not their best album by any stretch, but it certainly warrants maximum attention over multiple listens, and is thoroughly engrossing and foreboding throughout. " 8.3 - Toby McCarron


Tomas Barfod - Salton Sea  (full review here)


"Whilst ‘ƒIN’ is still undoubtedly my favourite house record of the year, Tomas Barfod’s ‘Salton Sea’ comes a close second with its intricate layers and attention to detail." 8.1 - Aurora Mitchell

The Walkmen - Heaven (full review here)

"The Walkmen have risen, fallen, grown-up and risen again from the ashes.
Heaven? Close enough" 8.0 - Max Sefton



June 2012 - Sound Influx Playlist by Toby McCarron

Careful - It's Funny



“Gorgeous... From a tradition of unnervingly confidential, light-voiced male singers: João Gilberto, Arthur Russell, Lou Barlow of Sebadoh, Elliott Smith, Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu.” Gushed the New York Times over Yosemite-come-Orange County resident Eric Lindley A.K.A. Careful. And it's not entirely hard to see where those ambitious comparisons have sprung from, as Careful's music is highly literal to his name, but not in an unadventurous way, rather a more delicately precise approach to songcraft.

When discussing this track, Careful is certainly not a word one might use as opposed to the more introspective acoustic affair that was his 2010 album 'Oh, Light', new track 'It's Funny' revels in the ever controversial autotune. The track features more restrained acoustic guitars
juxtapositioned with Lindley's delicate voice, quivering electronically up and down, and is one of those few instances where the use of autotune works perfectly as a form of sheer artistry rather than the cheap gimmick many see it as (Thanks for nothing T-Pain and Black Eyed Peas) In fact, a rather obvious comparison to the track is with the newer works of Sufjan Stevens, with the electronic Age Of Adz style direction or even Sufjan's contributions to the recent S/S/S 'Beak and Claw' EP which saw a further embrace of autotune. But comparisons aside, this is interesting stuff with some clear emotion behind it and Careful's new record 'Because I Am Always Talking' looks set to be a treat.

Toby McCarron






Thursday, 28 June 2012

DIIV - Oshin



Originally the solo project of Beach Fossils live member Zachary Cole Smith, DIIV (pronounced Dive) have spilled out of the bedroom to release their debut album ‘Oshin’ (pronounced Ocean, probably) on hip Brooklyn label Captured Tracks (Dum Dum Girls, Thieves Like Us)


Setting out their stall early on ‘Oshin’ opens with an instrumental entitled ‘Druun’ (pronounced…oh I give up,) which uses low slung bass, repetitive piano and a faintly oriental tremolo picked riff to conjure up something akin to Surfer Blood’s day at the beach surf-pop. Second track ‘Past Lives’ is a catchy Maccabees-esque slice of indie-pop for the first minute before abandoning a second verse in favour of another instrumental segment. In fact, a large proportion of ‘Oshin’ is given over to lengthy vocal-free sections.

Unfortunately, after 4 or 5 tracks of this it begins to seem as if DIIV are rather short on things to say. The mood is perky and upbeat and the interwoven, jangly guitars and bass are solid but even the dramatic camp of The Drums is more emotionally engaging and when Cole-Smith does open his mouth it tends to be to deliver spacey ‘Whoa-ohs’ rather than crucial insights into the human condition.

Fortunately the second half offers a darker prospect. The quiet-loud dynamics, chugging bass and reverb-y guitars on ‘Earthboy’ sound like Keane being cut loose on a raft far out at sea, whilst ‘Sometime’ packs a catchy guitar hook and some nice instrumental interplay. There still aren’t many melodies that really stick in your head, but the change in mood makes it a more intriguing prospect. Ironically it’s penultimate track ‘Doused’ that offers a tantalising prospect of what might have been: jagged interwoven guitars, a raw edge that seems to be absent elsewhere and an actual chorus, it’s everything this album could have been and more.

Overall ‘Oshin’ is a perfectly pleasant record, impressively performed and impeccably produced but this just isn’t the kind of music you listen to for the sterling musicianship, it’s something that should go straight to your feet. As a modern take on the 60’s surf-rock of groups like The Surfaris or the Ventures it’s a satisfying record to put on for a spin but unlike the summery juvenilia of Surfer Blood or Smith Westerns it’s not one that really calls you back once the last echoing notes of ‘Home’ fade.

5.6

Max Sefton

Leefest 2012 - Preview




South East London is a musical black hole. It’s close enough to the rest of London to go there for gigs and events, but the area itself is barren of any noteworthy acts (except for maybe Squeeze, but, y’know). This weekend however, for the sixth year running, it’s LeeFest!

In 2006, a bunch of teens fulfilled an age-old adolescent fantasy and held an impromptu festival at their house after one’s parents had gone on holiday. The story of the inaugural Leefest is a testament to teenage ingenuity and heroic compromises, from bribing a school caretaker with beer in exchange for a stage to pulling said stage for a mile in a bunch of stolen shopping trollies. Since then the organisation’s been upped but the basic premise remains: an unpretentious festival that chooses not to overthink itself or burden itself with gimmicks.

Though this mentality could easily lead to it all collapsing in a pile of wanky worthiness and dire up and comers, the organisers have made the intelligent decision to go with bands that come with both credibility and hefty presence.

 
Mystery Jets headline this year, along with Slow Club and Ghostpoet. Further down the line up lurk gems like Casiokids, whose skittery electro-pop has been cruelly missing from UK festivals for years, or Sound Influx faves Summer Camp, who’ll hopefully bring along new material as well as big hitters from their still-great debut.

The biggest surprise is Raf Daddy (better known as the non-Hot Chip half of 2 Bears), who is set to play a dj set that looks likely to contain the kind of garage, 2-step and soul that’s currently leading the way in reshaping the UK’s pop landscape. With more acts still to be announced and the cost of bigger festivals soaring, Leefest is looking likely to be the underdog of this festival season.

Find out more here on the official website

Ned Powley

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

OFF! - Interview



So, whilst pottering around the house last Saturday morning, I receive a phone call from a nice lady informing me that I had secured an interview with the band OFF!. For those sadly unaware, OFF! are an American band, playing fast paced and intense punk music, in the vein of classic hardcore punk from the 80s. They're awesome. And they're also something of godfathers of the business, having music careers that are around thirty years old. It's like the band they always needed to be in.

When I got to it, I was mainly speaking with Keith Morris - most notable for fronting Circle Jerks and being the vocalist on Black Flag's 'Nervous Breakdown' EP. He was a very unique character, so much so that he lost me in a few places, it has to be said. Donned with a pair of very large, rounded spectacles and a hat. Occasionally guitarist Dimitri Coats (mostly known externally for being in Burning Brides) would answer a few questions, and bassist Steve McDonald and drummer Mario Rubalcaba popped up here and there. We spoke for about an hour or so in total, the last half an hour (I cut out) was a meandering conversation that resulted in them asking me if I liked certain bands, namely 70s rock icons and me appearing very boyish and having not properly listened to them. There definitely was a generational gap there. But they were awesome guys and I was really happy to have met them all.


As for the show itself, I have to say that, as usual, Trash Talk stole the show me for me. The stage presence of Lee Speilman and his audacity for getting into the crowd and interacting with the audience is always a treat to watch as he's so daring and unpredictable. At one point he pushed through to all the stand-back-arms-folded side of the room and had a chat with people, saying how they paid as much as the guys who were right at the front, they deserve as much attention as the others did.
OFF! themselves were really good too. It was the second time I've seen them perform, and I wasn't as mosh-heavy was I was the first time round, but it was good to see them again. Also with the nice context that mere hours before, I was hanging out with them before, one of the raddest bands in the land - and that made me feel pretty darn awesome.

Eliot Humphreys

Julian Plenti - Julian Plenti Lives...



The alter-ego of Paul Banks, Julian Plenti, has heralded the release of his second album later in the year, with a 5 song EP, which is a peculiar mix of tracks. The Julian Plenti pseudonym has become an outlet for the Interpol baritone to branch out from his day job, and that is certainly evident on ‘Julian Plenti Lives…’.


The three instrumental tracks break up the EP with opener ‘Perimeter Deactivated’ having the dark intensity which Banks and Interpol have become known for. Even a string section's hopeful staccato cannot lift the feedback heavy guitar riff (think War of the Worlds). Contrastingly ‘Mythsizer’ is a two minute piece of funk interspersed with a woman sporadically talking over the top of it, and emphasises the musical freedom Paul Banks clearly feels when he’s writing as Julian Plenti. ‘Cavern Worship’ is the longest of the three, ending the album in a mix of the funky synths of ‘Mythsizer’ and the typical Interpol guitars, before twisting into a cello solo. With a lot of the EP, the songs are constantly unpredictable, making ‘Julian Plenti Lives…’ a pretty exciting listen at points.

‘Summertime Is Coming’ attempts to be a feel good anthem to celebrate the warm months but unfortunately for Plenti/Banks, his voice puts a dampener on the whole thing. Instead of proclaiming summer it feels like he’s announcing the apocalypse, which is not helped by the heavy instrumentation. Finally in the last minute everything cuts out, leaving just Plenti and an acoustic guitar, and that’s when you remember why you fell for his voice in the first place as he moans softly ‘Can we waste some time colliding in space?’.

Julian Plenti ensures that this EP is worth a listen with his cover of ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ which is as slinky and sexy as a Bond theme. Quivering violins shimmer over a voice, so suddenly sensuous that you can forget everything about the awkwardness of ‘Summertime Is Coming’ and just revel in the utter gorgeousness of this track. Although overall ‘Julian Plenti Lives…’ is nothing to shout about, this cover definitely is and regardless of your opinion on all things Interpol, you should definitely look out for it.

5.8


Jessy Parker Humphreys 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Diplo - Express Yourself EP



Diplo’s great skill as a producer is not just being a creator in his own right but acting as a gifted conduit for others, possessing the vision to channel their flair into original and exciting shapes. Even without Diplo, MIA would have been a wild and charismatic talent but it wasn’t until the pair hooked up on the ‘Piracy Funds Terrorism’ mixtape that she found a sonic backdrop that did justice to her unique vision. Beyonce was in danger of drifting into middle of the road balladry until Diplo gifted her ‘Girls (Run the World’) to reassert her sassy feminist position as the modern Queen of Pop. And with his Mad Decent remix series the Philadephia-born producer reimagined records as diverse as Deerhunter and Marlena Shaw to produce rich, ethereal sounds a million miles from their original incarnations.

With the departure of Switch from Major Lazer, their shared dancehall collaboration, at the end of last year, Diplo has now returned to producing material under his own name and ‘Express Yourself’ is his most brazenly commercial material for some time. The Baile funk influence is less prominent on ‘Express Yourself’, a frenetic dancehall workout of cranked beats and bubbling synth bleeps and bursts. ‘Barely Standing’ featuring Canadian dubstep star Datsik and vocalist Sabi, has a catchy vocal hook that almost redeems the brostep/moombahton hybrid backing track that sounds like an angry cat being fed into a printer. As a pure club track it’s perfectly serviceable and Diplo’s production is typically tight but a talent like his could do much more. Too often the standard of his output seems to depend upon the quality of the artists he chooses to work with. The man can polish a diamond in the rough until it sparkles but he can’t turn lead into gold and the guests on ‘Express Yourself’ just aren’t of the calibre of Vybz Cartel or Buraka Som Sistema.

‘No Problem’ features Canadian singer Kay as his surrogate MIA and for about half a verse her brash claims to play ‘like a motherfucking champion’ offer a nice detour from the more typical pop vocals on the EP before Dubstep artist Flinch’s complex chords set up a blurring dubby drop which Diplo demolishes with a wall of synthesizer. ‘Move Around’ is another hookup with controversial Jamaican singer/MC Elephant Man to follow up their excellent reinterpretation of Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ but this is heavier and places less emphasis on the vocals in amongst a cavalcade of plane crash drops and cymbal crashes that are less carnival and more sweaty rock club. Disappointingly ‘Butters Theme’ is not a fanfare for everyone’s favourite naïve and nerdy South Park character. Instead its forgettable, faintly progressive moombahton featuring Billy the Gent and Long Jawns neither of whom manage to successfully stamp their personality onto the track.

Diplo is clearly talented at turning his hand to a wide range of genres but despite the pin-sharp production too much of this EP feels like a selection of learning exercises. The title track aside, this EP isn’t his finest moment.

5.0



Max Sefton


George Fitzgerald - Child EP


There has been a large influence of ‘90s stylings in modern music, especially in electronica. Most who tend to be leaning this way, are taking these elements and putting them into a pool of other ingredients, combining two separate things into one to create something fresh. It’s a classic way of keeping music interesting, genre blending. However, with George Fitzgerald’s EP, even from the first track, I knew that this wasn't going to be as enjoyable and as developed as that.

The eponymous opener ‘Child’ is a long, tedious mess. Like with most 90s dance, it opens and loops a very plain, irritating beat for far too long, layers other simplistic and uninteresting loops of pathetic and weedy synths and a few samples of that done-to-death style of a young woman singing, being copied and pasted for the entirety of the song, all so it fits into ‘the beat’. The lack of imagination and creativity here is laughably amateurish, and sounds like the simplest song anyone could write on a piece of music software - the kind of Garageband song you put together for fun, dragging and dropping all of the pre-done loops and layering it up to the degree where it appears like ‘a song’, even though you’ve written nothing, played no instrument and sequenced very little but a bit of cheeky organisation in a controlled and pre-written mainframe. Well done.

The second song ‘Hindsight’ is equally as long and equally as tedious and suffers from the same simplistic bullshit the last track did. Just another set of overly stretched out drum and synth loops and samples, done to the beat, left to run too long, that never build to anything interesting, momentous or stimulating. Occasionally something changes, but the only reason you notice is because you’re so eager for something genuinely enjoyable that you’ll accept any variation at all. And this kind of anti-climactic boredom continues for the rest of the EP, that, for four tracks, amazing manages to stretch to twenty-six minutes. Twenty. Six. Minutes.

And it certainly does show. Listening to this is like having an entire night out of repeatedly passing out (due to complete and utter boredom) in the kind of club that would play this crap. Whenever you do wake, nothing noticeable changes and the mind-numbing feeling it leaves you with, riddles your expectations with disappointment, listlessness and depression at the state of music.

This EP is a perfect listen while doing morning yoga, and very little else. Something you can faze out to, something so completely uninteresting that you’ll never genuinely find yourself paying any true attention to it because it’s just that lifeless and shit.

1.4


Monday, 25 June 2012

Van She - Idea Of Happiness



Van She, composed of bassist/vocalist Matt Van Schie and three others not called Van She, are a synth-pop band from Sydney, Australia and signed to Modular recordings (Wolfmother, Tame Impala.) However unlike their label mates, whose retro fantasies revolve around Cream and Buffalo Springfield, Van She owe more to the sounds of the early 80s than the late 60s. Their 2009 debut album, simply called ‘V’ earned them comparisons to MGMT and Empire of the Sun, so it’s no surprise that ‘Idea of Happiness’ has been timed for a release at the height of summer. Unfortunately here in Britain, inclement summer weather is the only thing more predictable than many of these tracks and they’re no substitute for eight hours of Vitamin C.


Sometimes the sun does peak through the clouds however. And when it does, ‘Idea of Happiness’ could be the album to drop straight into your stereo. With its bouncy synth line and ecstatic handclaps Calypso is the song that should be playing as your yacht pulls into a harbour somewhere on the French Riviera. It’s a little cheesy but impossible to hear and not want to party, and best of all, amidst the toe-tapping choruses it’s knowing enough drop in the line like ‘music is a scene, and you know it keeps repeating’ as they artfully pilfer Duran Duran’s best pickup lines.

With tracks called Jamaica and Coconuts much of ‘Idea of Happiness’ attempts to offer an astonishingly literal escapism. The watery synths on the former give way to strummed soft-rock acoustic guitar whilst the latter uses kettle drums and recorded seagulls to evoke palm-lined beaches. Subtlety is not just a dirty word but one that has been locked in a chest and buried on one of Van She’s beloved tropical islands.

Having remixed Feist, Ladyhawke and New Young Pony Club under the banner of Van She Tech, the group should be perfectly capable of hopping over to the other side of the recording desk but the production on ‘Idea of Happiness’ insists on buffing every song until it’s as shiny as Boy George’s forehead. Thus Van She’s world can be a rather wearing one to be immersed in, as if it’s permanently 45 degrees out and you’re not allowed in the shade.

Hooks, melodies and lyrics are all garishly signposted and even a song entitled Tears is smothered under the weight of glossy synths.

Today’s forecast: Signs of brightness early on but growing dull later.

3.7

Max Sefton

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Hot Chip - In Our Heads


Hot Chip’s new self-produced album has got to be one of the most anticipated albums of 2012 for a lot of people: after 2010’s fantastic ‘One life Stand’, and two new tantalisingly brilliant tracks being released up to the release date.


Despite initial (slightly disappointed) reactions, the album is a calmer, dreamier record than any of Hot Chip’s previous offerings. Throughout, ‘In Our Heads’ seems to have a woozy, repetitive drag to it. However, with none of the 11 tracks falling below the 5 minute mark, whether this drag is entirely a positive thing throughout may be questioned. This has never been a problem for Hot Chip before. They have always managed to keep interest in a long song, due to their idiosyncrasies- the little noises, the lyrics and the layers in the music. It’s not that the band have removed these elements completely, there’s things like gorgeous bird song samples on ‘Let Me Be Him’ which are a really lovely touch and add to the dream-like quality of the album as a whole. It’s just that some parts of some songs feel just slightly overdone and even indulgent.

However this drag seems intentional and it does suit the album, which seems to express the feeling of falling in love. ‘How Do You Do’ is a beautiful, wonky love song, with an awesome bass introduction and the almost plaintive ’How do you do it?/ you make me want to live again’. Again, a love song, ‘don’t deny your heart/ don’t destroy your heart’ pleads Alexis in the hook of ‘Don’t Deny Your Heart’, which captures the charming, knowingly slightly cheesy elements of previous infectious songs. On ‘These Chains’, the lyrics sum up perfectly a feeling of complete surrender to the one you love: ‘these chains/ you’ve bound around my heart/complete me/ baby/ I will not be free again’.

There are also, in true hot chip style, some huge stonkers: the ridiculously funky ‘Night And Day’ is at the heart of the album and pleases with its hip-hop elements blended with classic Hot Chip melodies and quirks. ‘Flutes’, the first teaser track for the album, is also huge, in all its slow building, ‘ear worm’ creating glory (the ‘one day you might realise/ that you might need to open your eyes’ line swims round and round in my head for days on end); it must already be a Hot Chip Classic!

Always a highlight of Hot Chip’s music, Alexis Taylor’s dreamy voice is reflected in much of the music on this album. The mellow ‘Now There Is Nothing’ is genuinely gorgeous, and with Alexis’ laid back ‘do do do do dooo’ sounds light and summery, similar to many of Metronomy’s ‘English Riviera’ tracks. A slight slow-burner, and much more subtle and understated than many of Hot Chip’s previous records, but accomplished , dreamily and jubilant throughout.


7.0

Holly Read-Challen

Friday, 22 June 2012

Vacationer - Gone


These days it seems as if all that is being churned out of the American music machine is 'alternative' bands with 3 things in common: skinny jeans, a keyboard player and a floaty electronic sound. While indie kids and hipsters alike may rejoice at the news of a band describing their genre as 'Nu-hula' and claiming their influences are 'chilling out', the pessimist inside me expects nothing more from Vacationer than some arty lyrics sang with an American twang in order to perhaps recreate sounds similar to that of MGMT or Foster The People, or even better; have a single used in a digital camera ad.

However, upon first listen to the album I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that Vacationer have not gone down the expected route of picking up a synthesizer and singing about trees and calling it 'experimental'. They have actually done the impossible task in this day and age to create a fresh sound by playing around with contrasting ideas - in a matter of tracks you will hear the use of a strings, hand claps, a pair of decks and what sounds like a flute. If all that doesn't tempt you into having a listen, there's still a healthy dose of catchy drum, bass and guitar riffs and sing-a-long choruses.


The first track, Everyone Knows had me interested, as opening an album to the sound of birds is a good a way as any. But don't worry, they don't mess about too much as you can hear every track on the album is made for the sake of making good music. The happy keyboard chords and infectious chorus are mood lifting. When later reading that the purpose of the album is ''relaxing the listener and sending their mind on a well-deserved trip'' I totally get it, as the more I listen on I swear I feel as if the sun is suddenly shining. Good as New is a track so far up my street its knocking on my front door, as the intro sounds like a Disney sound track, and mixed into a simple beat I feel like Vacationer have definitely taken me on a Vacation already, as I will be singing the line ''I'm feeling good as new'' for days. Trip is by far the best track on the album, if you do one thing today – listen to this song. Who knew a keyboard, an African like drum beat, bird song and a flute could sound so perfect together?


I could probably take you through each track individually and explain my admiration and love for the different techniques and sounds used and created in the album, but then that would ruin the fun for you. This is a must have album for summer, the tracks Summer End and Be With You have inspired me to create a play list entitled 'Songs To Drive To The Beach To', just so they can be at the top. This album is pretty light hearted and airy fairy, but Great Love has a rock'n'roll indie feel to it, suggesting Vacationer could be an interesting prospect live.


I would recommend this album to most people, no matter what bands you're into, I think you'll enjoy this album. Press play, raybans on, and, as the band say, you can ''Vacation from anywhere at anytime''.


7.8




Roisin Seaton


Thursday, 21 June 2012

Purity Ring - Fineshrine


For anyone familiar with Purity Ring's exceptional output thus far, new track Fineshrine will come as no surprise. It's a rather remarkable track, showing no real deviation from the dazzling, chopped up future-pop cuts we've been lucky enough to indulge in for the past year or so, yet displays phenomenal amounts of invention and the indication that Purity Ring now have a signature sound and are far more than just another buzz-band.
 

The tempo and comfortably foreboding atmosphere is very similar to previous tracks Lofticries and Obedear, but Fineshrine has it's own magic within. The stuttering drum machines and otherworldly background oscillating samples are utterly captivating and dense, which combined with singer Megan James' tuneful occasionally childlike vocals have the ability to leave a unassuming listener in complete awe. This is music to fill up your head with on a deafening speaker system or particularly bass heavy headphones, and should get anyone who comes across it to get that little bit more excited for their debut record 'Shrines', out on revered label 4AD.

Toby McCarron

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Momus - Biblotek



Originally part of the early-80’s Glaswegian post-punk scene, Momus aka Nick Currie, specialises in producing challenging material. Flitting between almost every genre imaginable and indulging his fascination with orientalism, identity and the avant-garde his records seem to mostly have been critically and commercially ignored.

With spells living in London, Paris, New York, Berlin and Osaka and a career path that has encompassed horror movie writer, J-pop song writer, photo blogger, University lecturer, ‘unreliable’ art-gallery guide and most recently successful novelist, it’s amazing that ‘Bibliotek’ is the 25th album released under the Momus name since 1986.

There are no constants and seemingly no constraints on what can be included. Several songs contain material sourced from Youtube, a very 21st century take on Alan Lomax style field recordings. Tracks like ‘Dunes’ come across as sound collages in the style of King Creosote and John Hopkins ‘Diamond Mine’, weaving a kind of mythic, idealised pastoral scene amongst the tarnished humanity Momus sees around him. ‘Lycidas’, named after a John Milton poem which deals with just that subject matter, is as close as ‘Bibliotek’ comes to a pop song, delicately fusing marching brass to tremulous synths and handclaps.

Taking his name from the god of satire and mockery, Momus is a louche and erudite narrator, embodying the spirit of Cohen and Gainsbourg. ‘Core’ sounds like a 50’s crooner ballad coming through an old radio but there’s a clinging darkness to it, as if monsters flex their fingers just off screen. Iconoclastic opener ‘Erase’ is written in 5/4 time and sounds like the Futurist Manifesto set to melancholic flutes.

Later tracks take on a more electronic feel. The Jean-Paul Sartre referencing, auto-tuned vocal on ‘Erostratus’ sounds like the inner turmoil of HAL from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ whilst ‘Southbound’ spirals from minimal hand drums to R2D2 bleeps with Momus’s voice twisted and contorted by the robotic instrumentation around him. ‘Cheekbone’ is a sordid and debauched snapshot of twisted sexualities, heightened by the singer’s dispassionate intonation.

By the time the mournful bells and chimes of ‘Shunned’ fade away it’s clear that ‘Bibliotek” (the Swedish for library), is the perfect title for this record, steeped as it is in layers of literary allusions and worldly philosophising. It isn’t an album with widespread appeal but there’s something immensely appealing about the artist’s wilfulness and a downbeat grandeur to his soundscapes. File under thought-provoking.

7.5



For anyone wishing to find out more, here’s an interesting article I came across on the Guardian.

Maxim D Sefton

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Zulu Winter - Interview




After several high profile support slots for Friendly Fires and the Horrors London indie up-and-comers Zulu Winter are heading into festival season on a high. In my first interview for Sound Influx I had the chance to question the quintet about misleading the Proclaimers, the reason you should watch Panorama and why we should expect a more left field follow-up. Read on…


First off, where did you get your unusual band name from?

Our friend Kev is a big Proclaimers fan and he was at one of their shows a while back and got talking to one of the brothers and told him he was in a band, which he wasn't, and when he was asked what the band was called he said 'Zulu Winter' for reasons we are not sure of. So to prevent him from being found out as a liar by one of his idols we thought we would name the group Zulu Winter. We've had no word whether the Proclaimers approve yet!


Was there a particular moment when you got to together as a group where you thought ‘there’s something special here’?

Definitely, we were in the practice room and nothing was really happening and then we started jamming what would become 'Let's Move Back to Front' and we all knew that this was the way forward.

‘Language’ was released pretty rapidly considering that your debut single only came out in November last year. Does that mean that you’d already written all the songs for the album written by then? Did any of the tracks change during the recording process or did you already have a pretty strong vision of how you wanted them to end up?

That's correct. We had written and recorded 75% of the album by then. We spent around 18 months just locked away in our practice room thrashing things out and recording when we could. Some of the songs were developed a lot in the studio, particularly 'People that you must Remember'. That one originally started out as quite an enormous song, but we weren't really feeling it and when Will [Daunt – vocalist] had finished the lyrics it didn't seem to fit the mood of the song so we tried to make it a lot more delicate and work on the atmosphere of the song a lot more and now, for me it’s one of my favourite songs on the album.


I always like to ask bands this: What kind of music were you listening to whilst you were making ‘Language’? And do you think any of that fed through into what you ended up producing?

As there are 5 of us there were a lot of different influences thrown into the pot. I think we all tried to get our influences in, but you've got to remember there's 4 other people who will always be a lot more influential on the sound then any another band will be.


On ‘We Should be Swimming’ and ‘Words that I wield’ there were a few phrases that reminded me of the Wild Beasts or Morrissey, which seem to me to be the kind of artists that only Britain could produce. Do you think that this a particularly British record? Was there anything in British culture you specifically set out to address?

I always think British band do melancholy better than other countries. Maybe something to do with the weather!


I first came across Zulu Winter on Radio 6 Music. What was it like when you first heard one of your tracks playing on the radio? And have you ever come across your music in an unusual location?

I heard 'Silver Tongue' on Radio 6 one morning when I first woke up which was quite a nice shock. It's a little strange hearing yourself on the radio. I actually heard 'We should be Swimming' on a Panorama documentary which I think was about nurses not getting enough pay, which was pretty unusual.

For a relatively young band you seem to have toured all over the place. What are the best venue and the best crowd you’ve come across? And what are you looking forward to in the summer festival season?

We played a show at 'Botanique' in Brussels which is set in a Botanical gardens and we played in an old theatre round. It had a great light show and a really nice atmosphere. We’re really looking forward to Festival season. We've already played Field Day and No Direction Home festival which were both really exciting, and its great as well because you can go and check out other bands that you want to see.

You’ve also just had a run of shows opening for Keane. How did that come about? And how did you find playing larger venues?

Not sure how it came around. I think they'd heard of us and asked us to come along. The main thing I like about larger venues is the sound, the systems are generally better quality but I do like the intimacy of smaller venues.


What is the best gig you’ve ever been to and why?

The first big gig I went to was when I snuck into Glastonbury and saw David Bowie playing on the man stage, I will forever have the image of the crowd jumping in unison to Rebel Rebel etched on my mind.

Have you already started writing songs for a second Zulu Winter record? What direction do you see a second album moving in?

We've got loads of ideas and a few songs a bit further developed which we're looking forward to working on soon. We're talking a lot about David Axelrod [jazz-psych composer] style drums at the moment, but you'll have to wait and see.


Finally, you decided to name your album ‘Language’, how many languages can you speak between you? And could you teach me a phrase that’s come in useful for a band touring the world?

Pathetically I think we're all pretty rubbish with languages. I know a few insults in Dutch strangely and a little French and Spanish but that's about it. I probably need to learn the phase 'sorry I've forgotten my passport' when talking to boarder officers.



Max Sefton

Monday, 18 June 2012

UK Top 40 Watch - Edition #3 (Feat. Loreen, Usher, Carly Rae Jepsen, Cheryl)


This week’s top 40 saw Cheryl hit number one, while Carly Rae Jepsen, Fun and Gotye all managed to hang in the top 20. I can safely report that none of the songs in this week’s chart will mark you out as ‘cool’ if you listen to them.


Best song of the week: Loreen - Euphoria (no. 20)


I am a big fan of everything Scandinavian, so you can imagine my delight when Loreen took Eurovision back to Sweden, especially because no one does pop music better than the Swedes. ‘Euphoria’ gradually builds up into well, a euphoric chorus, which is a bit like if you were travelling through clouds and then finally you reach the sky and light. Then all the club beats come in and everything gets really dancey and awesome, until she rhymes ‘infinity’ with ‘divinity’ but we can let that embarrassment slide. Loreen also spoke out against the human rights abuses in Azerbaijan before her Eurovision entry, so it’s safe to say she’s a righteous dude.

         Worst song of the week: Usher - Scream (no. 8)


There was definitely a point in my life where I thought Usher was really fucking cool. Sadly that day is no more. This song should be renamed ‘ooh baby baby’ because the ratio of ‘ooh baby baby’s to screaming is significantly in the formers favour. The phrase isn’t even real English, and also incredibly inappropriate considering this song is not about chubby, ugly six month old kids but about SEX. Yes, surprising news for all but this is a ballad in which the narrative portrays Usher wooing a foxy lady. I’m pretty sure I have heard this same song with different names about 100 times over the past 5 years. An interesting statistic which showcases how bloody dull some of the chart can be now.
Guilty pleasure: Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe (no. 12)



This song has been around for a while but the pleasure just will not diminish no matter how much I want it to. Despite the fact Carly Rae Jepsen is not a sweet teenager like I assumed, but in fact TWENTY SIX YEARS OLD, you cannot shake ‘Call Me Maybe’. It will swirl around your head for days, you’ll start slipping the lines into conversation until all you can do is sing ‘Call Me Maybe’. That bit at the beginning which sounds like music from Sims, the chorus to beat all choruses, the surprisingly funny video, I can’t get enough of it all. And if you don’t get the Carly-hype yet, watch her doing this song with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots. They all look so happy in it you will not fail to enjoy yourself. Also we all want Carly to call us maybe, am I right?

Number One: Cheryl - Call My Name



Is Cheryl trying to get in on the Carly calling hype or what? Unfortunately everyone’s favourite member of Girls Aloud can’t quite make it to the intoxicating pop highs of ‘Call Me Maybe’, even though bits of this track do sound like a Jamie XX remix. As catchy as this little ditty is, I wish Cheryl would just get Girls Aloud back together for the good of humanity AND PRONTO. Or make ‘Fight for This Love’ be number one again. Now that was a brilliant song.


Jessy Parker Humphreys 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Oh Canada! (The expansion of the music scene, and the role Grimes has played)



The Polaris Prize 2012 Longlist has just been announced and it’s safe to say that Canada always brings forward some of the best music as this year’s nominees include Azari & III, Drake, Grimes and The Weeknd amongst many others. Last year’s winner was the obvious choice with Arcade Fire taking the title whilst two of our favourite bands to come out of last year, Austra and Braids, received recognition through the prize. However, this year it looks like it could be a closer race as you’ve got the massive, universally appealing Drake record against the critically acclaimed Grimes album as well as electro-house group Azari & III and The Weeknd all vying for the title. 


Undoubtedly the rising Canadian artist of the year – despite releasing two other albums, ‘Geidi Primes’ and ‘Halfaxa’ which all garnered considerable acclaim – Grimes has managed to gain a pretty solid fanbase since her first 4AD release, ‘Visions’. Whilst many have sat up and started to listen to Grimes’ music and take an interest in her as an artist; they have also been paying attention to the artists that Grimes affiliates herself with. One of the positive things about artists having Twitter apart from the rants we get treated to from Kanye ever so often is the ability to promote music that they’re into. Just a couple of days ago, Grimes posted a tweet about Montreal based band Solar Year, calling them a ‘really sick Montreal band’ so naturally we checked them out and their song Lines is in the same vein of Grimes’ music, to be listened to late at night with good headphones on.




Another Montreal artist who has gone under the radar is Mozart’s Sister. Sounding similarly oriental-pop inspired as Grimes and featuring the same hypnotic beats with punchy drums – although a lot of Montreal based artists’ sound palettes come from similar places, they’re all equally enjoyable and show the multi-faceted nature of electronic and experimental music. Mozart Sister released an EP last year titled Dear Fear but an extract from it, Don’t Leave It To Me, an abrasive song with odd-pop sensibilities, was recovered from the past and posted on Pitchfork at the start of the month, bringing it to my attention. Whilst its textural grooves are akin to Grimes’ music, Caila’s vocals are less shy and indirect than Boucher’s and more in-your-face.

Grimes mentioned the Montreal scene in a recent interview with The Quietus – commenting, “I think Canadian music - especially in Montreal, songwriting is really important, but everyone makes electronic music. I guess that's what's really distinctive about bands like Purity Ring and Grimes, or Blue Hawaii, Mozart's Sister... It's electronic music and it has those pop-dance elements but I think the songwriting is really strong across the board. And that's not something you see so much in blog music these days. I know texture is really important, but I think texture and stuff precedes songwriting a lot of the time these days.” It’s definitely true that it seems that ‘everyone makes electronic music’ as labels such as Warp, Tri-Angle and Hyperdub are so in demand; with new signings such as Mount Kimbie, AlunaGeorge and Laurel Halo all generating a lot of interest. However, as Boucher says, Canadian artists are creating something different – and this is true in all cases but especially with Cadence Weapon, who makes rap with attitude over hip-hop beats but also brings in experimental elements and has had Grimes produce his track ‘88’ as well as remixing his material.




More commonly associated with Grimes are d’Eon, Doldrums and Blood Diamonds, all of which have had Boucher lend vocals to tracks of theirs. However, they all have distinctly different sounds. d’Eon’s recent sound lends to a wholly religious theme whilst also playing on the idea that technology rules our lives which such songs as ‘My iPhone Tracks My Every Move’ and ‘I Look Into The Internet’. Doldrums is completely different, whilst I first expected my ears to be hit with overblown tinny bass-heavy drums from the name alone; I was at first surprised to hear otherworldly melodies accompanied by Animal Collective-esque vocals. Although I have grown to enjoy his sound; especially on new song ‘Egypt’ which takes a new direction, sounding more house-y whilst still keeping the vocals in line with earlier material.






Most recent offering from Blood Diamonds is ‘Phone Sex’ featuring Grimes and whilst it’s pretty strange lyrically for a song called Phone Sex, the steel drums accompanied by Boucher’s delayed vocals [sounding like her KEXP live set] give the track a Balearic feel that makes me wish that the sun would stay out for more than a couple of hours. Another notable electronic Canadian artist is Majical Cloudz who featured on Grimes’ song Nightmusic, one of my personal favourites from ‘Visions’ – also having collaborated with Boucher on ‘Dream World’ and ‘Song For Ric’; a part of the Ad Hoc campaign. Boucher has also lent her dancing and vocals to Kuhrye-oo’s ‘Give In (For The Fame)’ which showcases a wispier and more fragmented version of her voice than usual as snippets that only last a breath are dispersed throughout the 3 minute period. This also shows how multi-talented Grimes is as a brand, able to sing, produce, draw artwork, dance and have mostly creative control over her music videos – as the original version of the video for ‘Crystal Ball’ from her Darkbloom split with d’Eon was removed from her Youtube as she expressed a dislike to it and vowed to have more creative control over future videos.







A little less serious piece of music to finish off on, is ‘Don’t Smoke My Blunt Bitch’, a song that surfaced early in the week under the moniker ‘L$D’ featuring ‘Kreayshawn x Tragik x Grimes x Blood Diamonds’, a song written in 10 minutes and a video to accompany that took an hour. You can pretty much believe it as lyrics ‘I be that Grimey motherfucker’ and ‘Don’t smoke my blunt bitch’ are repeated throughout as the video accompanying features Grimes in trousers and a coat both covered with a marijuana leaf pattern and drinking Corona on the hood of a car with Kreayshawn, as well as chilling out in a heavily graffiti phone booth as Boucher playfully dances around with the phone in her hand.



Grimes’ stays true to her Canadian heritage when collaborating and whilst there is already a thriving Canadian music scene every year, providing some of the most diverse and exciting artists out there – Claire Boucher has created a tight knit group of artists that are definitely all worth your attention. Although blogs and the music industry often group artists together in terms of how their music sounds like, think about Toro Y Moi, Washed Out and Neon Indian in the whole ‘chillwave’ tag. As Alan Palomo said in a Pitchfork interview, “I think somebody might have this image of all of us sitting around watching Back to the Future Part II, but that doesn’t really exist.” However, in the case of these Canadian artists, they all seem to genuinely hang out together a lot and work together on material through their love of making music.





Aurora Mitchell

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Rapture - Interview



Here's our second interview from Parklife 2012 courtesy of new Reebok Radio, which you should check out here , following our one with Murkage that went up two days ago. This time Robbie was lucky enough to interview perhaps one of the most influential DFA bands of recent years The Rapture, who talk about festivals, Euro 2012 and working with James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem. Enjoy!



So, Parklife, Now Wave headliners, how do you feel?
Yeah, pretty good! I saw the line-up and I thought, “oh, shit! We’re going up against a lot of awesome bands, so we’re just hoping there’ll be someone with us!

Yeah, even when I was looking at the line-up, I was thinking, “there’s way too many to choose from!”
Ha-ha, I know! I thought, I want to see a lot of this but when I looked at the times and was like, “aw shit man”

So, if you were a punter, who would you go and see?
Well, y’know, I’ve gotta say us but us withstanding, I’d really want to see Julio Bashmore, Claude von Stroke, you know, there’s just some great DJ’s here. Especially, Justice, we played a couple of shows with them on the west coast after Coachella and their live show is just amazing. Even Dizzee Rascal I wouldn’t mind checking out.

And you also come over to England during the European Championships and I heard that one of your songs ("Whoo! Alright, Yeah…Uh Huh") is also the official anthem of the New York Red Bulls football team. So how did that all come about? 

Yeah, we love football. I mean, Matty who used to be in the band is a gigantic Fulham fan for whatever reason and uh, we all follow it. In America, it’s starting to catch on a little bit but its nothing compared Premier League. I’ve been following football for quite a while, you seen it grow a while. Especially when David Beckham came over, it was a massive deal publically. You watch it and the quality is not exactly convincing, I still watch the MLS but it’s nothing on the Premier League. Like, the US team is looking convincing. They beat Italy in a friendly and they’ve got Klinsmann, so it’s looking good.

You also announced your latest album in between the supposed “rapture”, so that must’ve given you the best press available? 
It was fucking awesome, man. We didn’t even plan it out but our Facebook page we started getting a ton of hits a few days before and then we realised, so it worked out perfectly. We then announced it and it was the best free press ever. So really, we should thank that dude, what ever his name was.

Also, this is the first album on DFA, so what’s the relationship like with them and James Murphy? 
We’ve been friends with James Murphy for over 10years now. He came to one of our first shows in like 1999 and he came over and said “I like you, I have studio and you should come over and record” and then he had the label that he wanted to start called DFA and the rest is history. You also worked with Philippe Zdar who’s pretty much in demand at the moment, what was it like working with him? He’s incredible; we’ve been really lucky. As a band, we’ve always wanted to work with good producers and he’s just amazing. He’s super talented and started from the bottom, he can do anything and knows everything about engineering. What makes him amazing is that he has so much energy and he’s so positive. In the studio, he’ll just push you through things and in the studio, when you’ve been listening to the same thing 100 times and it’s not working and he was always telling us to just keep going, which was so important.

So finally, this is just one of the festivals you’re playing this year, what’s the rest of your summer like?
Just touring and festivals; we do this and then Lovebox, go home for like 5 days, play a show in New York and then just generally touring, so it’s gonna be really busy.

Robbie Baxendale

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Tomas Barfod - Salton Sea



Despite releasing music since 2004, Tomas Barfod’s ‘Salton Sea’ is the Danish DJ and producer’s debut full length. Like fellow Euro house producer John Talabot who released the outstanding debut ƒIN earlier this year, Barfod has enlisted a number of collaborators to provide vocals. However, Barfod breaks this up in a logical way – placing one instrumental track then one with accompanying vocals throughout; as largely instrumental albums can start to lose your attention by the half way point, especially as ‘Salton Sea’ clocks in at just over an hour. Staying true to his Scandinavian roots, guest vocalists (including CHLLNGR and Nina Kinert), are all of Swedish or Danish descent – apart from NY singer Lydia Ainsworth.


Opener D.S.O.Y starts off with a repetitive disorientating and hypnotising patterns with a pulsing, twinkling beat in the background before a steady, pounding drum beat comes in two thirds into the song which gives the song its centre. Lead single Broken Glass begins with a reverb-heavy guitar hook and the barely audible sound of an old record spinning on a turntable with autotuned vocals over the top from Jeppe Kjellberg before a summery, bouncing beat kicks in with relaxing drums before switching up after the sound effect of glass breaking for hissing percussion and a steady 4/4 drum machine beat.

November Skies is the standout on ‘Salton Sea’, accompanied by one of two features from Swedish singer Nina Kinert. It’s the most poppy on the album, recalling fellow Scandinavian artists such as Niki & The Dove and iamamiwhoami. Following on from November Skies is Aether which could not sound any more different – sounding more like The Knife as a dark, foreboding synth drone laden with atmosphere is accompanied by a tinny videogame-esque looped beat. This builds up until a loud, ticking drum beat is brought in half way through as well as off-beat popping sounds that soon find their way into the timing of the song without disrupting the other elements.

Towards the end of ‘Salton Sea’, the songs start to become more technical and Nighthawke offers haunting harmonies from Lydia Ainsworth that foreground whilst a quiet heavy-bass bubbling beat slowly builds up into the mechanical click-clack of machinery before krautrock synths take over and the harmonies quietly fade into the background. Whilst ‘ƒIN’ is still undoubtedly my favourite house record of the year, Tomas Barfod’s ‘Salton Sea’ comes a close second with its intricate layers and attention to detail.

8.1 

Aurora Mitchell

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Parklife 2012 - Review / Murkage Interview



So over the past weekend, whilst the heavy metal kids got their kicks at Download, Manchester played host to the Parklife Weekender, offering a completely different experience for the festivalgoer. Whilst the wellies were still on full force on a quite damp weekend, the spirits of many dance music enthusiasts weren’t dampened (get it?!). Amongst the churned mud were DJs and artists such as Julio Bashmore, Bicep, the Rapture and Buraka Som Sistema joined headliners the Flaming Lips and Dizzee Rascal. Parklife themselves have quite an easy festival to organise with many labels and organisers wishing to curate stages themselves. Drum & Bass label Hospitality took advantage of this as did deep house troupe Crosstown Rebels to help provide a wild and eclectic range of performers to keep everyone happy overall.

Our writer Robbie conducted interviews with both The Rapture and Murkage whilst at Parklife last Sunday. Below is his interview with Murkage, conducted after their slot at Reebok Radio which launched at the festival! 



So, Manchester, this like a home festival for you anyway, but how did it feel opening? Murkage Dave: Yeah, yeah, yeah! It felt fucking good, man. The last time we played this festival, we played in a fucking tree house that doubled for the silent disco. But y’know, we still smashed it! It feels like a cliché, you know “from zero to hero” and it’s not like that ‘cause we’re still on a journey but it feels good to play on the main stage to a home crowd. We saw so many people wearing the t-shirts and knew the lyrics. 
Gaika: Yeah, we know so many people that have supported us from the start and yeah, it was dope. It just went off with everyone jumping at the end. 
MD: that’s the way we look at it, we want to be the first stadium rap group from the UK, there isn’t really anyone out there doing that. 

So that’s the ambition then, you want to be a stadium group rather than staying in the underground like a lot of other rap groups do?
MD: I just let the secret out of the bag, but yes!
G: The thing about us is that we’re very humble, but we’re not modest. Our ambition is to win. MD: We said before, it’s all about the deconstruction of the old. We’re breaking down old ideas, bringing new energy, new people, whatever you want to do. Like, why not? Why indoctrinate yourself? 

Especially with such a big group yourselves, with the whole cartel; it must be emphasis on the group things around at the moment. The ASAP mob and Odd Future are all doing their own thing, so is there more of an onus on it?
G: it’s to do with the world changing. People have to make their own structures, their own barriers, they have to it themselves; that’s the one thing you take from us, it’s within you. 
MD: From the online presence, the blogging, the videos, the merchandise, not everyone is doing the same thing. Everyone’s bringing a different thing. It makes you feel closer and more connected, it’s good. 
G: we were all friends before this and we’ll all be friends after it. So it’s an amazing feeling being with your mates.
MD: it’s just fucking good. I’ve got my brother here with me, my good friends, it’s a privilege to be doing this with the people you actually love. 

In your set, you also mentioned the other Manchester MC’s that are coming through such as Virus Syndicate. 
MD: Definitely! They paved the way for us y’know? They were the first ones big in Europe 
G: Broken English and Fallacy! 
MD: Especially Fallacy, he did it his own way. He didn’t have to rap in an American accent, he didn’t have to be a backpacker or mimic the Brooklyn sound but above all, he’s just fucking sick. 
G: and when no one was fucking with us, he was! So shout-outs to him.

As well as the Manchester scene, there are sites such as Don’t Flop, do you feel the genre is going to begin getting over saturated?
MD: Nah, nah, nah! Chronicle and Roman have started something. I’ve been in Manchester for 9 years now and this is the first time there’s something exciting going on. From Wu Lyf, to Illum Sphere to Blizzard even Dub Phizix jumping on that track with Strategy, there’s an explosion waiting to happen and people just need to understand it. 
G: We should work together ‘cause there’s a lot of good music coming out of the city at the minute 

So finally, for Murkage, what are the main summer plans? 
MD: we’re in Europe a lot, European Festivals. We’re looking at trying to get to as many festivals as possible. Sweden is gonna be peak and Belgium! 
G: Yeah, we’re going to France with Xzibit! 
MD: We’re doing EuroRockenes so it’s just crazy. We’re doing about 5/6 festivals in France, we’re in Belgium and Germany. 
G: We’re doing Bestival and Secret Garden and Lattitude and Isle of Wight, everyone from the crew is doing something!






Robbie Baxendale

Metric - Synthetica



Described by vocalist Emily Haines in a letter to fans as being ‘about what is real versus what is artificial’ and by guitarist Jimmy Shaw as ‘the culmination of everything we’ve been working towards’ I started listening to this album expecting something apocalyptic, a Blade Runner-like indictment of technology run rampant, of human beings constantly simulated by information but unable to form a meaningful attachment to any of it. Instead however, ‘Synthetica’ could be Metric’s most accessible record to date, another move away from their punk roots towards the sexy, precisely-tooled new-wave of 2009’s ‘Fantasies.


Opener Artificial Nocturne rears like a snow covered glacier, slow-moving yet deceptively deadly. Channelling a dark groove reminiscent of Stereolab or even Nine Inch Nails, it builds in throbbing waves finally cresting out on a wash of synthesizers. With its exploitation themed video and cheeky nod to the Beatles, lead single Youth Without Youth serves as a sequel to Gimme Sympathy from ‘Fantasies’. Sound-wise it’s an icier take on the glossy stomp of Goldfrapp or Blondie. Meanwhile Speed the Collapse goes for a full on apocalypse with Haines cooing ‘seas will boil…we auctioned off our memories’ as humanity collapses around her.

As usual with Metric records Haines voice remains front and centre. Ever since her first appearances with Broken Social Scene the Canadian has always been a bold and self-possessed frontwoman in the mould of Shirley Manson and it’s when she’s at her most declarative that you sense Metric have something concrete to offer the listener. Unfortunately too much of ‘Synthetica’ is nebulous and indistinct. The faux-girlish delivery on Lost Kitten may be intended as a comment on the superficiality of modern society but it feels slight and ill-defined. The Void offers a portentous title and a glitch ridden opening Sleigh Bells would be proud of but it quickly becomes an anthem to staying up at night singing to records.

As a concept album ‘Synthetica’ lacks punch and clarity. Themes of cultural and societal alienation brought about by technology were covered on Radiohead’s ‘OK Computer’ almost 15 years ago but whilst sometimes it seems as though Metric have tried to update them for the super-saturated Twitter era there’s a sense that the band aren’t asking the important questions. Ultimately even the appearance of gnarled rock-Grinch Lou Reed on the penultimate track The Wanderlust cannot quite redeem ‘Synthetica’. In the battle between man and machine this is more a glancing blow than a killer assault.

6.0

Max Sefton