Saturday, 2 March 2013

February 2013: Albums Summary

Another month, another hefty batch of new music blessed upon to us. For the shortest month of the year, February this year has been jam packed with new albums, some good, some disappointingly fulfilling. Here's our monthly round up of all the releases we covered, and our verdicts on the best and worst of the rest:


Album Of The Month

"There’s something for everyone to take away from m b v. Loveless fans, those hoping for more in the direction of ‘City Girl’ and people who’ve been to see MBV live and wanted a recording that even attempted to rival the shattering noise of their shows. Kevin Shields mentioned in an interview that when Loveless came out, it fitted in with journalists’ usage of flowery language and this time around, it’s not going to be any different. My Bloody Valentine have still yet to disappoint." Aurora Mitchell

The Rest

Eels - Wonderful, Glorious (8/10)

10 albums in and ‘Wonderful, Glorious’ sees Eels arrest a late period slump with their best record since 2005 and arguably their most focused since 1998’s ‘Electro-Shock Blues’. Out go the songs about suicide bombers and endless bluesy choogling and in comes a sense of wide-eyed wonder as E discovers that maybe he’s found his place in the world. His songwriting is sharper, punchier and wittier than he’s been in years; taking in twangy Duane Eddy guitar on ‘Bombs Away’ and no shortage of the catchy, entertaining arrangements he’s perfected over the course of two decades over triumph and heartbreak. Playing sad songs with happy chords has always been his raison d’etre but ‘Wonderful, Glorious’ managed to be both a life-affirming triumph and a reminder that we’ll always need a man like E around. Max Sefton

Darwin Deez - Songs For Imaginative People (7/10)

Many people have dismissed Darwin Deez somewhat unfairly, as a gimmick. A kind of comedy hipster prototype who does little else than add some twee sensibilities to the fabled indie music legacy of his homeplace NYC. It's fair to say, Darwin's second album crushes all those murmurs, even with the opening line of the self-conscious (800) Human as he spits "Are you sick of not existing?". There's plenty of moments of impeccable songwriting throughout the record, with the carefree Pavement-esque "life is a greenhouse gas" bounce of Free (The Editorial Me), and the more thoughtful tracks like All In The Wrist, a story about teaching a prison inmate to read. It's not necessarily as danceable or accessible as his debut, but Darwin Deez is clearly an imaginative man writing great songs for imaginative people. Toby McCarron

Iceage - You're Nothing (5/10)

As statements of intent go, Danish punks Iceage's debut album New Brigade was a pretty explosive one. Ruthless, nihilistic and youthfully exuberant, it was crammed with energy and rebelliousness, shrugging off fractured limbs as by products on Broken Bone and spitting unabashed hatrid into the face of order elsewhere. Now streamlined soundwise, Iceage sound regretful and defeated. The sheer waywardness of the debut has been replaced by self-loathing and angst in a way that's more confusing than exciting as lead singer Elias strops his way through sloppily played out numbers with an air of hopelessness in his voice. There are moments of promise with lead single Ecstasy's off kilter approach, but You're Nothing does not deliver the venom it promised. Toby McCarron

Jamie Lidell - Jamie Lidell (7/10)

Jamie Lidell's self titled effort for Warp is a joyous 'will it blend?' type experience. Merging his soulful and often impressive vocals, with deep lying electro grooves and elements of straight-up disco, he comes across as a modernised Prince like figure. There are moments however, where the pure unabashed pop can be cringe-enducing or even contrived, but the big bombastic danceable songs like 'You Naked' and 'What A Shame' are catchy enough to lift up any album. Toby McCarron

Foals - Holy Fire (4/10)

A divisive record this, and one that sees Foals have a bit of an identity crisis. On one hand it's clear they still want to be a clever uplifting indie band who are perpetually on the grasp  of stadium wide adoration with neat guitar lines and catchy hooks as displayed so expertly on their debut album 'Antidotes'. And from the two singles dropped from Holy Fire, 'Inhaler' a big dumb nu-metal like beast of a track, and 'My Number' a naive catchy as hell indie pop banger, it looked like Foals might finally be ready to have some fun and stop taking themselves too seriously. But unfortunately, Holy Fire just comes across largely as a watered down version of Foals' second record 'Total Life Forever'. Where that album had meaning and profound themes of love, death and the future, Holy Fire just sounds a bit weak. Tracks like 'Bad Habit', 'Out Of The Woods' and 'Stepson' are bland and unmemorable largely due to the deliberate air of hopelessness Foals try to intersperse around the record. An interesting idea, to base an album on the concept of giving in and folding over, but not very exciting to listen to and winds up more Holy Dire than Holy Fire. Toby McCarron

Giraffage - Needs (7/10)

An often overshadowed figure in modern electronic music, is San Francisco based producer Giraffage who dropped his second mixtape 'Needs' this February. An eclectic mix of sounds beckons, with sequenced samples dizzyingly flying up and down and off the walls. Stuttering beats, and some rather sleek slow jams set Giraffage up as a contender to the crown of best new electronic producer along with contemporaries XXYYXX and Bondax. Also, good luck getting the infectious 'Money' out of your head. Toby McCarron

The Courteeners - Anna (1/10)

The less said about this the better...

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