Monday, 8 April 2013

March 2013: Albums Summary

Better late than never (8th April, sorry!), here's our monthly summary of albums.

Check out what March had to offer:


Nai Harvest - Whatever (8/10)
The Strokes - Comedown Machine (6/10)

Kavinsky - Outrun (8/10)
Wavves - Afraid Of Heights (5/10)
Phosphorescent - Muchacho (8/10)

Album of the month 

Daughter - If You Leave (8.5/10)

"Daughter have gone from creating music focused on pain, to creating music that encapsulates pain and acts as medicine. Some may call it depressing, I’d argue they’ve not listened hard enough." Braden Fletcher 

The Rest

Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (8/10)

What was pencilled in as a return to form, quickly escalated to discussion of a reinvention of the pop album. Although the 20/20 experience is certainly an 'experience', a revelation it isn't. Timberlake's most ambitious effort to date just falls short of iconic, with most songs pressuring the 9 minute mark, it's hard to fault Justin for the concept behind the music showcased and the drive to create something as culturally resonant as his previous two records. Exquisitely crafted pop gems permeate and delight throughout (even if most of them last 2 or 3 minutes too long) with Timberlake's trademark tongue in cheek lyricisms not extending too far from the expected (sex, love, a rather naive foray into drug metaphors on Pusher Love Girl so aloof it's largely hilarious.) Timberland's production is on point with the tried and tested beat-box style instrumentals only sounding a tad dated, and the strength of the choruses Timberlake delivers on the likes of Don't Hold The Wall and Mirrors are amongst the most memorable of his career. Not ground-breaking, but a lot of fun and a refreshing revival of a male pop-star who isn't completely loathsome and punchable. Toby McCarron

Peace - In Love (7/10)

When Peace first broke through with their glorious EP last year; it was already apparent to many that to keep up a level of quality across a full length record would be a feat in itself. Not phased with this level of pressure, the Birmingham group released Wraith and featured the hugely infectious Lovesick on the record. Whilst at times you feel like the album lacks in the cutting edge (ie. Waste of Paint through to Sugarstone), the re-workings of Follow Baby and album closer California Daze more than make up for it. Definitely one to catch this summer, if you can fit in the tent. Braden Fletcher

Chvrches - Recover (7/10)

If you were to write a brief history of Chvrches it would probably run something like this: Glaswegian indie band members decide they’re sick of selling three records to guys with beards and decide to do something shamelessly commercial. Actually, this summary is slightly unfair - vocalist Lauren Mayberry was keyboardist and co-vocalist in Blue Sky Archives, whilst Martin Doherty was a live member of miserable post-punks The Twilight Sad - but it’s true that as musical projects go Chvrches have attracted a hell of a lot more attention than these past ventures ever did for their shiny but slightly fussy electro-pop.

Channelling early eighties new wave group OMD lead single ‘Recover’ is a huge sounding tune, led by pulsating synths and Mayberry’s elfin vocals which bring to mind Emily Haines of Metric. Even if it doesn’t quite match up to the excellent ‘The Mother We Share’ single that the trio released last year it’s an electro pop anthem in the mould of Passion Pit’s ‘Sleepyhead’. If anything it’s actually improved by the remix courtesy of Cid Rim that closes this four-track EP when, unshackled from the need to appeal to both rock and dance crowds, some of Chvrches’ restraint is stripped away and it’s transformed into a full on dance floor workout.

Martin Doherty takes centre stage for the first time on ‘ZVVL’, a relatively lightweight track redeemed by its startling lyrics, ‘a flash of blood’, that draw your gaze away from the discotheque and down some darker pathways. Though their USP is bounding, keyboard-led pop, darker strains of electronic music both old (Depeche Mode) and new (The Knife) have played their role in shaping Chvrches so it’s interesting to see the trio explore some murkier corners. ‘There is so much I want to tell you’ croons Lauren on ‘Now is Not the Time’. For Chvrches the world is listening with open ears. Max Sefton

Bastille - Bad Blood (6/10)

When a pop act breaks through with the dedication that Bastille have, you have to admire it. The likes of Flaws push through to the almost anthemic sounds of Pompeii and its from this point onwards that you have to give appreciation to a a record that; whilst half full of tracks that will never light up the world will most definitely be part of most people’s summers. It may be cheesy and in parts it may not be the most musically adept; it also lacks in complete consistency but it’s the border of indie and pop that Dan Smith crosses that makes Bad Blood an enjoyable listen if one that won’t make it past the Autumn. Braden Fletcher

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