Wednesday, 30 January 2013

January 2013: Albums summary

We absorb a lot of music into our brains here at Sound Influx, but amongst our thirty-odd writers sometimes we don't get to review all the albums we'd like to of a month. So here's a reminder of the albums we did give a full review to, and our verdicts on the rest of what January 2013 had to offer.


Album Of The Month

Everything Everything - Arc (9/10)

"They've done it then, the Manchester foursome. They've made an album that manages to balance the indie/dance/pop/experimental with radio playability and pure integrity. It’s not perfect, but we’ll be hard pressed to remember 2012 if more albums come like Arc this year. "

The Rest

Ducktails - The Flower Lane (5/10)

Fads come and fads go, yet some fads outstay their welcome. For his latest venture as Ducktails, Matt Mondanile seems content on clinging onto the ever-outdated nostalgic fantasy of the 80s, as recently exploited by genre-cum-meme ‘chillwave’. It’s a shame, as the record is strongest where Mondanile’s previous brand of oft-challenging psychedelia shines through. Title track ‘The Flower Lane’, for example, is a brilliantly crafted take on Todd Rundgren’s warped pop music of the 70s, and ‘International Dateline’ modestly achieves more than the bulk of the record, recalling the laid-back jangle pop of Mondanile’s main project Real Estate. These moments are lost, however, in a record that is ultimately all too harmless to make an impression. Will Hall

Foxygen - We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace And Magic (6/10)

The second album from the nostalgia obsessed Foxygen is about as divisive as they come. It's an album that scraps any notions of newness or innovation, instead dwelling on their past influences (Dylan, Rolling Stones, The Kinks) and occasionally outright copying them with rock cliché upon rock cliché. Played out hippy escapist bullshit swathes this album in a way that verges on hilarious: "If you believe in yourself you'll free your soul", "Because it's a bummer in the summertime, but everyone's going to have a really good time", "Rearrange your mind if it makes you feel fine" 

You get the overall impression though that Foxygen aren't taking things that seriously, the album's title alone is too ridiculous to have any real meaning behind it, making this a fairly innocuous and pleasant listen with catchy melodies, albeit with the occasional cringe worthy lyric. Toby McCarron

Nosaj Thing - Home (7/10)

The second album from LA beatmaker Nosaj Thing picks up on trends in modern electronic music expertly, with quirky rhythms and use of space. Recalling the work of artists like Schlomo, Shigeto and Flying Lotus, Jason Chung twists and contorts enticing sounds into something bordering on majestic. With guest spots from Toro Y Moi and Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead, the album feels very studied and is realised with pleasing results. Toby McCarron

Christopher Owens - Lysandre (6/10) 

The sad news of Girls disbanding is still fresh in the forefront of people’s minds but frontman Christopher Owens has already launched his solo career and has finished debut solo album Lysandre as well as fronting a campaign for the newly rebranded Saint Laurent. Whilst the foundations of Girls’ music is embedded in Owen’s debut solo effort, everything has been diluted to a watery formula. The lyrics are pretty simplistic, the guitars quieter and the general atmosphere sounds too spacious for Owens alone to be occupying. The excessive use of saxophone is a welcome novelty on first listen but quickly comes off as cheesy after a while. You could be mistaken in thinking that Lysandre was a rush job but Owens has actually been working on the record from when Girls were still together. It’s not quite what we expected but as Owens says in ‘Love Is In The Ear Of The Listener’ “Everything to say has been said before and that’s not what makes or breaks a song” Aurora Mitchell

Dutch Uncles - Out Of Touch In The Wild (5/10)

With bands like Everything Everything and Django Django producing remarkable left of centre, yet still decidedly British indie pop, is there any room for Dutch Uncles to impress? The short answer is, not really. Out Of Touch In The Wild comes across like a more experimental and less beige Two Door Cinema Club record, with plenty of neat choruses but without much excitement in its experimentation. Stand out tracks 'Fester' and 'Flexxin' delight, but everything else feels worryingly hackneyed. Toby McCarron

Widowspeak - Almanac (6/10)

Duo Widowspeak's sophomore effort is an exercise in being lovely. The cover is beautiful and amongst the most visually appealing of the month, with the music being similarly calming with a vague husky sense of intrigue you might get from a band like Beach House. Enchanting, but not wholly memorable. Toby McCarron

Parquet Courts - Light Up Gold (9/10) 

2013 looks set to be noisy.  With The Men, Iceage, FIDLAR and California X amongst others set to release albums in the top half of the year, there’s not going to be a shortage of music to shred our ears to a pulp. Parquet Courts’ debut ‘Light Up Gold’ is not as abrasive and in-your-face as some of the above, and even boasts a degree of accessibility with songs like ‘Borrowed Time’ and ‘Stoned And Starving’. Although there are some gloriously shouty moments, including the strained shouting of “I WANT YOUR DISEASE” in ‘Disney P.T’. The production is quite muffled for a record of its caliber though, bringing to mind The Men. Aurora Mitchell

The History Of Apple Pie - Out Of View (8/10)

The debut album from East London small venue stalwarts The History Of Apple Pie transcends much of the hipster bullshit the areas they frequent churn out. Out Of View is an undeniably enjoyable record full of grungey guitars, sweet vocal coos and impeccable melodies. The Pixies like feel to tracks 'Mallory' and 'You're So Cool' placed alongside more straight up embraces of shoegaze guitar like 'Do It Wrong' is exciting and youthful enough not to feel like a rip off, and works as a fitting soundtrack for teenage angst or just a straight up celebration. Toby McCarron

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