Albums Club #47: The Soft Pink Truth, Charlie XCX, Sparks, Tim Burgess and more

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Getintothis Albums Club #47

This month sees a bumper edition of our Albums Club, while Getintothis’ Banjo reflects on his lockdown listening habits.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself looking backwards a fair bit recently, listening to a lot of old music.

While it has certainly come about because of the lockdown, it hasn’t been prompted by a nostalgic look back to when we were able to leave the house freely, see friends, go to pubs and lose ourselves at gigs, but rather it is a consequence of working from home.

When I am busy at my day job I work in an office with other people.

Now I know this may shatter a few illusions, but the good folk of Getintothis have other lives outside that of being what we shall loosely term music journalists.

We have full-time jobs that pay the bills and keep us in fine lagers and we do this other stuff as a voluntary sideline.

So in real life, I occupy a desk in an open-plan office and go about my business there.

For whatever reason, we are not able to listen to music while we work and my main mode of listening during the week is my trusty iPod classic, the battle-scarred beast that makes my commute tolerable.

But while I am at home, I have access to almost every single piece of music ever recorded.

At first, I took advantage of this good fortune to catch up with the frankly ridiculous amount of music I have downloaded over the last few years; I would open my downloads folder, scroll down a random amount and work my way through whatever albums were visible.

I liked this, there was an element of chance about it that meant that I was listening to some music for the first time, while others were old favourites or forgotten friends.

To be honest, I also used this as an excuse to get rid of a few things that I had downloaded on a whim or on the recommendation of others and that, in the cold light of day, were actually complete shite.

But, as someone who tends to shun routine, I soon looked to other ways of finding music to listen to.

I had a great debut albums run for a few days, a shoegaze marathon and I worked my way through the entire Nick Cave back catalogue.

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And so, I suppose, started my current trip back through musical time.

Then along came the Dave Strickson Blogspot with almost a thousand John Peel sessions to listen to.

Here were songs I had heard in my youth and had searched for online for years.

I was finally able to listen again to the Babes in Toyland Peel Session version of Dogg, the Young Marble Giants showing us another route on the post punk map and Future Sound of London doing strange things to our head.

From here I moved on to downloading whole Peel shows, working through two or three a day like some kind of deranged John Peel junkie.

The net effect of this is that, enjoyable as this has undoubtedly been, I now again find myself looking to change the routine again.

Thank god then for the Getintothis Albums Club.

Contained in this very feature is a treasure trove of new music to draw me away from nostalgia.

New finds such as the brilliant debut album from Public Practice, new albums from established acts such as Sparks and Tim Burgess and cutting edge pop from Charlie XCX.

So for the next few days my playlist is written for me.

But after that, who knows where my musical explorations will take me.

But music while working is one of the joys of a lockdown situation, and one that I hope may be part of the change we are told we can expect when all of this is over.

Although what the office will think of Babes in Toyland being blasted out at frankly terrifying volume levels is another matter. – Banjo, Getintothis Features Editor

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Album of the Month:

The Soft Pink Truth: Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?
Thrill Jockey

It may have taken us three years to catch up, but we’ve finally digested and fallen for the German Netflix series Dark.

Shot in a sleepy remote town, this science fiction mindfuck revolves around several generations of families, their sinful past and dubious futures with the only certainty that everything is connected.

No matter how the story weaves, twists and ultimately shocks there is the cyclical natural order of time and what’s happened will ultimately affect our future.

Maybe we’re overreaching, but the thematic truisms of this deeply disturbing television programme can’t help but mirror the music and revelatory revolving swirl of Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?

This is a record which churns like a bubbling cauldron from the get-go with each minutiae of sound interconnecting with the next; frothing and breathing life into a dramatic chain of sound which for 43 minutes rarely relents in its captivating power.

Created by Daniel Drew, one half of San Francisco duo, couple and band, Matmos, The Soft Pink Truth is his experimental vehicle for his more whacked out trance-inspired creations.

And on Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase? Drew‘s results are nothing short of spectacular.

The two 20 plus minute pieces draw upon shamanic chants, vivid techno, densely textured noise collages, hymnal ambience, Brian Eno-like drone and pulsating rhythmic wonder.

Where it broken down into bite-sized chunks the effect would be nothing short of chaotic, disorientating and confusing – but woven together as a complete whole and you have one of the finest pieces of music this listener has heard in some time.

The opening passage conjures up pagan or sacrificial imagery with a chorus of voices atop a backdrop of a burning crackles (or is it glistening water?) which segue into fluid-like electronic pulses, meditative breathing and an undulating bed of warming percussion.

There is a unique feeling of primitive noise colliding with futuristic technology which arrests the senses and is peaked further on the five-minute mark when a wash of chimes usher the listener into a second phase of divine hypnotic krautrock.

From here on in, you’re taken into the realms of Four Tet or Does It Look Like I’m Here? era Emeralds.

Bells and drones become the dominant force as the intensity is ramped up several notches before a disquieting low hum consumes and you’re seemingly thrust back into the oceanic depths of the waves once again.

For this is Shall We Go On Sinning’s… essence, a record that once you press play makes you forget about beginnings, ends or even midway points – it is simply a fascinating journey. One path but all connected.

Daniel says the record was born as a reaction to Donald Trump‘s election victory and the subsequent anger he felt.

However, he insists: “I felt I needed to get past a private feeling of powerlessness by making musical connections with friends and people I admire, to make something that felt socially extended and affirming.”

Those friends form the basis of one unified orchestra with Daniel’s partner M.C. Schmidt and Koye Berry blending piano melodies with Sarah Hennies near relentless percussion and discordant vibraphone while Colin Self, Angel Deradoorian and Jana Hunter act as a choral foundation.

Together their voices are the record’s most powerful force, rarely if ever, completely drowned out of the mix – instead they dip, rise and pull into soft or firmer focus acting like a guide as you drift deeper into the magnetic maze.

Propel into the mix Andrew Bernstein (Horse Lords) and John Berndt‘s saxophones and the finished record feels like the culmination of multiple energies channelling as one – turning that anger into a more powerful positive force.

Euphoria and calm.
Hysteria and divine serenity.
It’s all there just waiting to be unleashed.

There’s a moment 15 minutes into Shall We Go On Sinning which sees the soft gentle ebb of the sea transform into an array of clattering bell clangs before blooming into a crest of claps, horns and wild free jazz – it’s quite overwhelming but not nearly as delirious as what’s to follow.

That choral foundation comes to the fore once again on the second half of the album with the harmonies twisted and warped beyond human form and the result, when aligned to the iridescent piano, is little short of magical.

Around the nine-minute mark of So That Grace May Increase there’s a beautiful stillness as the music is rendered beatless and one colossal swell takes centre stage as once again you feel as though you’re beginning/ending another form of a journey.

The cycle is once more complete. It is time to start over. What has been has gone but we are kept moving. Everything is connected.

Another quality of the record is its power to beguile and entrance.

Shall We Go On Sinning… never feels like background music, yet on repeated listen there are numerous times we found ourselves lost amid the music’s myriad of bends and folds.

This is far from ambience music, much more closer to the high state of bliss you feel in a club. The peak of the night unfolding in some kind of psychosis-soaked bath.

Nevermore so than the second half of So That Grace May Increase. 

The serpentine piano works itself into a coil as Hennies‘s percussive taps rise to the fore and build into a crescendo before – for a mere moment – there’s almost near silence only to be broken by a siren. A kind of dizzying wail of electro lightning.

The effect nearly knocked our head off the first time we heard it.

Disorientating and woozy, it lasts little more than a minute but for those seconds it feels like the heaviest sounds committed to tape. It will slamdunk you into oblivion.

As your senses realign, treated vocals speaking in tongues enter the fray marking the close of a quite revelatory spellbinding mission of music.

The journey has come to end. All the highs and lows. All of it connected and working as a complete whole.

All you can do, is press play, and begin all over again. – Peter Guy.

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Aviator : All You Haters
Self Released

You’ll know Pete Wilkinson, of course.

He’s in the fairly unique position of having played bass for three legendary Liverpool groups – Cast, Echo & The Bunnymen and Shack (also, obviously later, Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band).

You may be less familiar with his work as Aviator.

All You Haters is going to give you a fine opportunity to change that.

Since his 2002 solo debut, Huxley Pig, Pete has been following a DIY approach to recording, built on vintage analogue equipment. On All You Haters, with the assistance of producer/ex-La Paul Hemmings and former Cast bandmate Keith O’Neill, and with an eye on capturing the first or second take of any performance, he’s continued to refine his vision.

There’s a darkness to this new album; Wilkinson’s distant, echoing Lennon-esque vocals singing of anger and revenge while filthy guitars rage under acoustics.

There’s space throughout the music, everything breathing but everything fragile, tense.

There’s a genuine feel of a lo-fi Plastic Ono Band here in terms of both emotion and sound palette.

From the jazz-tinged opener, Scarecrow, with its ghostly melodica – resolving in reprise to a chorus of electronic pulsing – through All Around You (Omni)’s classic pop chorusing to The Ballad Of Tempest Brown’s intense payback, which starts as a possible echo of Lennon’s Working Class Hero, there is a message but it’s not going to give itself up easily.

This approach culminates in the album’s highlight, the truly kosmiche AV8TOR, which kicks in with a drum machine that would have sounded firmly in place in 1980, layers distorted guitars and drifting keyboards then adds indistinct vocals; the only clear statement in the tune is “I want to be free” but we have no idea from or of what. It’s a magnificent four minutes.

By the time we hit Catching The Blues, it feels like we’ve come through the other side of something without being entirely specific of what that ‘something’ might be.

Ten tracks of darkly anthemic rock/pop then, all seemingly concerned with things lost in the distance, half-heard, half-remembered. – Ian Salmon

Badly Drawn Boy: Banana Skin Shoes
One Last Fruit

A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking Badly Drawn Boy (aka Damon Gough) was currently residing in the where are they now file.

Almost a decade from his last release and 20 years since his beloved Hour of Bewilderbeast debut, Gough has admitted recently he’s been battling some pretty serious demons in the intervening gap and this album is the result.

Given that, you’d maybe expect a dark night of the soul, but beyond its self-parodic title, this is a comeback shot through with ebullient optimism and joyful nostalgia.

For some fans this will be something of a disappointment: Gough seems determined to reject the folksy troubadour image which is probably still his public perception and there’s none of the winsome guitar picking that sprinkled his best-known work.

The title track sees him throw everything into the mix (he’s stated that the mid-90s work of Beck and the Beastie Boys have been key touchstones) with jazz funk trumpets and hip hop drums making for an arresting opener. “It’s time to break free from this plaster cast and leave your world behind,” he sings and it sounds like a mantra for the rest of the album.

Unfortunately this everything-but-the- kitchen-sink attitude means more delicate tunes like You And Me Against The World and Note To Self get a little lost despite Gough’s way with a lyric.

Tony Wilson Said is a delight though: a funny and moving tribute to the former Factory Records boss, it’s a winning highlight of an inconsistent set. – Jamie Bowman

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Ben Lukas Boysen: Mirage
Erased Tapes

Mirage is Ben Lukas Boysen’s third album on Erased Tapes.

His previous two solo releases – Gravity (2013) and Spells (2016) – featured artificially created instrumentation manipulated to sound like it was played by musicians.

On Mirage, this conceit has been placed on its head. Here, Boysen intends to ‘hide the human’, taking live instrumentation – by guests Anne Müller (cello) and Daniel Thorne (saxophone) – and processing it so you can’t be 100% sure what you’re hearing.

Based on this description, those familiar with the Erased Tapes roster may already have an idea of what this might sound like: the cerebral electronica of Nils Frahm, with whom Boysen has collaborated before, or the textured piano of Lubomyr Melnyk, perhaps.

But that isn’t quite the full story. In seeking to hide the human, Boysen has infused his compositions with an unlikely emotional core.

Whereas Spells and Gravity were more austere and haunted, muted and plaintive, Mirage kicks in straight away with the glitchy delay of Empyrean.

It sounds like Mirrored-era Battles sinking to the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Shark-cage compressions, bubbles and twangs all cohere into a driving beat, while subsonic drones lurk and boom unseen in the depths.

The Empyrean domain was the highest heaven, where beings made of fire dwelt, and in this the title is apt; there’s something post-human and ascending about the music.

Kenotaph features a piano line more representative of the Erased Tapes cannon and the splashy, jazzy drums synonymous with Boysen’s earlier work.

Except here, it’s paired with alien bleeps and bloops, big synth notes reminiscent of Mark Knopfler’s work on the Local Hero soundtrack, where strange sounds were also combined with more traditional instrumentation.

Medela is a plosive, glitchy heartbeat with fuzzy slabs of sound angled over the dancy geometrics. Venia is a replicating radar pulse, bouncing around the globe Flight-of-the-Navigator style in weightless Steadicam, lakes and valleys and abandoned beaches sweeping beneath us.

It eventually decays into a slowly rising wave of snapping cello strings and genome disintegration.

Clarion is like one of Johan Johansson’s orchestral works filtered through a Thom Yorke solo composition. The off-kilter, off-beat piano lines combine with the splashy drumming and sweeping violins to complement the big, warm, UV-stroked notes. It shouldn’t be affecting, but somehow is, in a strange, spooky way; especially when everything falls away to the simple keyboard refrain.

Love is a huge, confrontational way to close out this intimate record. A staccato synth line builds a tower for the strings to weave around, eventually combining with squirmy, serpentine guitar licks to conjure the sun-sailing euphorics you’d normally associate with someone like Fuck Buttons.

Mirage is an otherworldly album, where the line between electronic processing and human intervention is never clear. Strange music for strange times. – Matthew Eland

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Tim Burgess: I Love the New Sky
Bella Union

I Love The New Sky is Tim Burgess’ fifth solo album and his first in two years, following As I Was Now in 2018.

We’re all big fans of The Charlatans here at Getintothis, they definitely have a signature sound. Tim’s solo stuff is more experimental, producing a more avant-garde, less predictable feel.

After all, what are side projects for?

This album appears to strike a successful balance between the two – at first listen, the album is pop-infused and accessible, while maintaining the leftfield, innovative sound that has been cultivated throughout his previous solo albums.

The album kicks off with the first single to be released, Empathy For The Devil. An upbeat number with a catchy beat even the most miserable person couldn’t help but tap their foot long to.

The song starts with the same chord sequence as The Cure’s ubiquitous Boys Don’t Cry, something Tim said he only added at the end of writing. It features a simple background keyboard beat which gives it a jazz-like sound.

Echoes of well-known and well-loved pop masterpieces are a common theme through the album – Comme D’Habitude is reminiscent of Abba’s Money, Money, Money, while at the same time belying a slightly Ian Brown-esque sound; low fuzzy vocals contrasted with an electronic-style bridge.

Similarly, Sweet Old Sorry Me gives a nod to Elton John’s Benny and the Jets.

The song deals with moving on from difficult times spent in LA, according to Burgess,a past life with zero regret but in order to move forward I had to leave my old life behind”.

Lucky Creatures has been cited as the singer’s favourite song from the album, it evokes a sense of Bowie’s Young Americans. The song features strings by Echo Collective and vocals from Tim’s partner Nik Void.

The latter part of the album takes on a contemplative mood, with slower piano-led tracks Only Took A Year and Undertow lending a gentler atmosphere to the close.

This album marks the return to a more familiar sound, something a little less experimental.

The release of I Love The New Sky coincides with Burgess’ increasingly popular Twitter listening parties, which have been a lifeline for many during lockdown; and in turn have helped to promote the album. – Emilie Clark

Car Seat Headrest: Making A Door Less Open
Matador Records

Car Seat Headrest have consistently made no apologies in being viewed at as a bit of an unconventionally thinking band.

Having self-released a whopping 12 albums on Bandcamp before any form of notoriety, it’s fair to say they took to the music industry in a very different fashion from your average joe.

But these releases had a huge impact in pulling in an organically avid fanbase, garnering an almighty underground following saw them selling out big shows before critics even had the chance to pass comment of the brains behind the project, Will Toledo,

Furthermore, it seemed this critique was more often naively aimed at how he looked on stage rather than the sound at the time.

Following 2018’s release of the reworked and re-recorded Twin Fantasy this year’s offering sees Toledo shaking the chains of any common conception for the often pigeonholed Indie-Rock band.

Since signing with Matador in 2015, Making a Door Leas Open is the fourth LP with the label, and probably the boldest in expanding into a field so far removed from what that band have been built upon, and dare I say possibly more suited to a more (cough) mainstream audience.

The guitars have here been swapped for synths to give the record a much more electro-pop feel, yet the songwriting is still very much Toledo, frustrated, apoplectic, irked, yet open to interpretation.

Lyrics such as ‘Hollywood makes me want to puke’ is an inadvertent contradiction to the tracks musical essence given it’s just the type of song you’d likely hear in many of the coffee shops on Sunset Boulevard.

Deadlines (Thoughtful), provides a delightful synth fest, it’s almost a tip on Bowie’s direction.

Another synth frenzy in Famous rounds off the album in a way that will likely an annoy a lot of the hardcore indie followers Car Seat Headrest have picked up over years, and the continuous line of ‘change your mind’ will evoke even more ire, yet the album in its entirety is a beautiful transition.

Change is for the better, right?  – Kev Barrett

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The City Kids: Things That Never Were
Cargo Records

What do you do when you’re storming around the country in The Main Grains and then one of your number (Danny McCormack) goes and (quite rightly!) rejoins the freshly reformed (and absolutely on fire) Wildhearts?

Well, if you’re JJ Watt you call up a bunch of rock n’ roll mates (including, as prime collaborators, Warrior Soul guitarist Dennis Post and Tigertailz bassist Berty Berton, along with rock Illuminati Tracii Guns and Warrior Soul’s Kory Clarke, Dave Sanders, Rusty D, and Alex Holmes and Billy Tee from The Suicide Notes), retire to a studio, and conjure up Things That Never Were.

The resulting album is ten tracks of balls-out punky rock and roll in the style of The Wildhearts, The Main Grains, and The Yo Yo’s; JJ’s vocal delivery is all gruff, Mike Ness (Social Distortion)-inspired growl, backed by Dennis’ stratospheric guitars and Berty and Dave’s stomping rhythm-section.

Stand out tracks are the lead-single “Best Of You”, “Rats” (The Suicide Notes adding an element of boozy sleaze ‘n’ swagger raunch), and the originally-written-for-The Main Grains You Get Nothing, along with the perfect album-closer Round and (A) Round (featuring Warrior Soul’s Kory Clarke and – again – Billy and Alex from The Suicide Notes) but there’s not a weak track among them; it’s a perfect mix of gravelly vocals, snarling guitars, and catchy, bouncy sing-along choruses.

The limited edition version, which came with bonus covers album Shit That We Like, sold out in five hours on pre-order, and rightly so.

In a world of sanitised radio singles and noise-limited gigs, this is a proper scorching rock ‘n’ roll album, that really, really needs to be played loud. – Brenda Curtainrail


The Dears: Lovers Rock
Dangerbird Records

They’ve been around for years now, and The Dears have always managed to pass me by, even when all the cool kids were dropping their names at their hipster peak.

Alas for them, that trendy curve seems to have been very much flattened over the last few releases, and Lovers Rock is their latest chance to hold back that particular tide.

The husband/wife duo of Murray Lightburn and Natalia Yanchak are The Dears very constant with an ever-changing line up, which makes them either tricky to work with or very fussy over their choice of bandmates.

Whatever the reasoning, it may explain why there’s not much fun in the air.

This is album number eight of their career and is simply not a record that sounds like it needed to be made.

Heart Of An Animal is a stodgy opener, going nowhere, saying nothing.

“I know what you’re thinking and it’s awful, an abomination.”

No, not an early template of the review but the chorus of just the second track, setting the moping tone for proceedings.

Instant Nightmare tries to raise the positivity levels, it feels like the Polyphonic Spree covering Coldplay, with it’s ‘ooh-ooh’ hook not landing at all, and yet it’s the only hopeful sounding track on the record.

It commits the ultimate crime of an album, it just meanders.

It’s not bad as such, just painfully musically and lyrically uninteresting.

Is This What You Really Want? is self-explanatory (the answer is no), The Worst Of Us steals the drums from Morrissey’s Disappointed.

And it’s the former non-racist who we are reminded on as the record goes on, it’s misery with no hope, no answers, just misery’s sake.

Play Dead sees a Costello vocal affected, but still sounds like another bands filler.

The whole thing dribbles to a conclusion with the almost six-minute long, two songs in one We’ll Go Into Hiding, but there’s no epic change of pace.

“We’re lost and nobody gives a damn”.

Sounds about right. A “will this do?” of an album. – Steven Doherty

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Diet Cig: Do You Wonder About Me
Frenchkiss Records

What young band doesn’t quake at a salty Pitchfork review?

Diet Cig were dealt one back in 2017 when their debut Swear I’m Good At This took a hammering.

Too flimsy and too lacking in “transformative salvation”, they were told. Imagine bringing that report home.

Fast-forward three years, and Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman have survived to put out a sophomore effort. Do You Wonder About Me? is an endorphin-heavy pop-punk record crammed with catchy hooks and melodrama – if not literal salvation.

Luciano’s choruses are shrill but cathartic, fizzing with angst.

Night Terrors airily warns potential bedfellows they might get killed if she has a bad dream. Priority Mail is a wispy elegy about the transition from soulmate to sometime penpal.

Broken Body seems oddly clairvoyant, railing against cabin fever and being stuck in the house for weeks on end.

That’s not to absolve this band of being a strung-out Livejournal entry. Luciano is forever antagonising exes for antagonising her, and her songwriting is regularly one long hall of mirrors in which she’s straining for epiphanies only to arrive, time and time again, at her own reflection.

The songs can buckle beneath all that self-mythologising.

Gone are the rotting apricots of the last record, the birthday cakes and disastrous barbecues.

Where once Luciano lampooned her romantic encounters by fantasising over séances filled with tetchy hearts she’s broken, or the weirdness of sleeping with someone who shares her name, this time she keeps things vague, fishing constantly for apologies without ever explaining how she’s been wronged.

The lyrics are so light on detail, you’ll wish the album came with a director’s cut and full commentary.

For all that, Do You Wonder About Me? could still end up being the sugary pop-punk you stick on repeat this summer. File with Tancred and Candy Hearts. And your diary from 2003.  – Orla Foster


Einstürzende Neubauten: ALLES IN ALLEM
Potomak

Having witnessed Einstürzende Neubauten‘s appearance at 2013’s Melbourne’s All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, seven years on and it’s no surprise that the band have arrived at such a point with ALLES IN ALLEM.

After a thirteen year absence of new material, the deranged industrial sonic terrorism of ‘Neubauten‘s earlier years makes way for supple and spaciously arranged songs and the results are simply frightening.

ALLES IN ALLEM is ‘Neubauten at their most accessible. Many skins have been shed, with frontman and former Bad Seed, Blixa Bargeld projecting himself into newfound limelight as some otherworldly space crooner. Bargeld‘s lyrics-once translated into English- are patently abstract, constantly searching for answers that remain forever hidden, further epitomising ‘Neubauten‘s fey obscurity.

Texturally, ALLES IN ALLEM is delicate and incandescently beautiful. Could you ever describe an Einstürzende Neubauten album as beautiful? The band have added that feature into their already expansive repertoire of sound.

The German powerhouse has never been shackled by genres or coerced down pigeonholes, unremittingly playing by their own rules and, quite literally, sculpturing sounds with different tools.

The hallway-stalking synths during the opening track, Ten Grand Goldie, could be best served in an ’80s horror film. It’s not overly aggressive, though. There’s suspense like you’re edging closer to a trapdoor.

The soft glacial qualities on tracks such as Möbliertes Lied and Grazer Damm are evident, despite the faint metal-on-bone instrumentation sounding like conceptions from an abandoned abattoir. Speaking of, Zivilisatorisches Missgeschick probably was, for it is hands down the most abrasive portion from the album and the only real flicker of ‘Neubauten‘s past.

The new voyage continues with Seven Screws, a track with a rich orchestral backcloth that could have been a German version of an early Bad Seeds cut.

Then there’s the title track. An ambient folk paean where ‘Neubauten could be mistaken as a backing band at some faux-Michelin star restaurant.

Wedding is a deconstruction of the classic ‘Neubauten template, stripped to the bare bones and replaced with haunting build-ups and a syncopated sprawl one would associate with the likes of Labradford.

The closing track in Tempelhof completes the minimalistic inventiveness on ALLES IN ALLEM. An album that sees ‘Neubauten growing old gracefully, immersing themselves in slow-motion psychedelia and slow-core-inspired serenades.

One often associates such occurrences as contentment, but that’s not the way ‘Neubauten function. If it were, then they would have halted long ago.

Whilst they’ve spent the majority of their career scraping instruments against the concrete walls of a distorted universe, with ALLES IN ALLEM Einstürzende Neubauten produce an ambient-laden soundtrack as they finally emerge from this murky labyrinth into a new world. – Simon Kirk

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HMLTD: West of Eden
Lucky Number

HMLTD, formerly known as Happy Meal Ltd, are a 6-piece glam-rock band from London.

Formed in 2015, HMLTD’s EPHate Music Last Time Delete was released in 2018, followed by their debut album West of Eden.

According to the band’s lead singer, Henry Spychalski, West of Eden took four years to make due to each band member being in university education when the band was first formed.

West of Eden is an album comprised of 15 songs all of which draw upon various sounds, influences and genres that allows each track to sound different to the next.

For example, To The Door seamlessly fuses del-toned riffs with an atmospheric trap beat as the beginning uses fast-paced and guitar-heavy verses which then moves into a synth-based chorus, making this track a definite highlight of the entire album.

Power Pop ballad Mikey’s Song has an upbeat, soft rocking soundtrack that is oddly well-paired with the melancholic lyrics.

Loaded is probably one of the heaviest tracks of the album, it is a raucous guitar-based number with harsh lyrics that match the tone of the song, which is ultimately about the band ‘selling their soul to the devil’ when they signed for Sony.

Overall, West of Eden is a great, experimental album that merges music styles that normally wouldn’t go well together but work perfectly. – Ashleigh Knight

Other Lives: For Their Love
Play It Again Sam and ATO Records

Good things come to those who wait, is what I’ve heard.

It’s been five years since Others Lives last album release, and it’s only fair to say the wait was certainly worth it in this case.

For Their Love see’s Other Lives bring another whole new dimension to their output, which has resounded in what is quite possibly their best work to date.

Not one for pigeonholing, the band have experimented in a few different fields previously, yet may have now touched on a formula that suits them best. A psych-folk offering was on display for 2011’s Tamer Animals, followed by a much deeper, almost ambient assignment for Rituals in 2015.

So five years later it was intriguing to see which direction the band would be heading with their latest incarnation.

What we have is a traditional folk ensemble with a healthy dose of vigour and vibrance that’s meant to be heard in full zest. Each track dynamically provided giving an all-round crisp, clean and polished record, with a clarity to the self-production allowing Jesse Tabish’s vocals to take centre stage.

There’s also certainly no alternative splendour within the songwriting here, just honesty and fresh account of the everyday grind of life, love, money and death.

Opening track Sound of Violence is a harrowingly beautiful start to the record, with other notable highlights including All Eyes – For Their Love, having an elegantly balanced flow between the lead vocals and harmonies.

Nites Out leads with an almost ghostly cinematic intro and keeps you hanging in there through to an Ennio Morricone-esq modern western chorus in glorious fashion.

With 10 songs racking up 37 minutes in total it, without doubt, leaves more than enough interest to see what’s up next for the Oklahoman formed quartet.

Hopefully, it won’t be another five years before we find out.  – Kev Barrett

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Jerry Paper: Abracadabra
Stones Throw

Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Jerry Paper is, by pretty much any measure or metric, a bit of an oddball.

One of those pretentious teens who previously shunned any electronic instrumentation, and would refuse to listen to any music post 1968, Jerry spent some time early in the previous decade in a sort of pound shop P-Funk mythos of his own making.

While this would yield some interesting results on previous releases, Jerry never quite reached the heights which were aimed for. A great deal of talent and a knack for melody and experimentation failing to reach a wider audience, while those in the know would occasionally espouse his virtues.

So we come to his latest effort, Abracadabra.

A 13 song set clocking in at under 40 minutes, it would seem that there is little in the way of fat to be trimmed here. Indeed, all but a couple of the tracks here clock in at under three minutes.

While in the hands of some genres this is nothing out of the ordinary, the brand of sunny funk and analogue synth soul-pop on offer here would traditionally result in songs with a little more space to breathe.

It’s telling, then, that the gamble in keeping the songs so short is one which mostly pays off. There’s certainly some depth here, but it’s a characteristic which only becomes apparent after several listens.

After all, while the songs may be succinct and the instrumentation light, this is quite a lyrically dense work.

No, really, when was the last time you heard someone croon the word ‘bilious’ over lurching funk and Rhodes piano? Or the Syd Barrett indebted toybox metaphors displayed on the album’s longest track (at 4:44), Puppeteer?

Musically, there’s a lot to unpack here. The instrumentation on offer varies between jazzy, phased, synths and fuzzy, trebly, reverb-soaked guitar phrases.

It’s a very “tastefully” composed work. It’s no mean feat to strike such a balance between instrumentation like this without things either becoming muddy and indistinct or, even worse, allowing one or two obnoxious sounds to overpower proceedings.

Abracadabra recalls the likes of Röyksopp and Air at their most knowingly retro.

So, is it easy to recommend the album itself? Well, yes and no.

As mentioned earlier, this is not an album which it’s easy to love on first listen, though repeated listens will certainly reveal a lot more charm than would be expected.

It’s a good option for sticking on while out for a walk, cooking dinner, that kind of thing. This might seem like damning with faint praise, but in my experience, it is definitely a good idea to absorb records like this rather than consume them.

It’s a record which is definitely worth investing the time into, allowing the sardonic wordplay and lazy rhythms to sink in as opposed to hit.

A work which finds its space in your mind by way of osmosis rather than brute force, and at the moment, is that not something we could all do with?  – Graham Fandango

Perfume Genius: Set My Heart On Fire Immediately
Matador Records

Over his prior albums, Mike Hadreas has used big emotions and cutting lyrical content to create a sense of drama around his Perfume Genius.

Similar to how Bowie would use grand gestures to create a distinct aura, Perfume Genius has developed a kind of kitschy throwback image for himself, informing his music with bombast that’s felt in every song.

His latest album Set My Heart on Fire Immediately finds him taking this dramatic, emotionally wrought outlook and informing it within classic pop structures and sounds to create his most accomplished album to date.

Much of this album calls back to slow-burning torch songs of the 50s & 60s, creating a distinctly noir feel to the album.

It’s hard not to hear the doo-wop swoon of Without You without thinking of vintage crooners like Roy Orbison or listening to the sweeping orchestral backing of Leave and not hear the cinematic sounds of Scott Walker.

It helps though that Hadreas is a gifted enough songwriter and vocalist that none of these influences overtake the quality of the songs themselves, making their throwback sounds more of an assist to a tightly structured pop song than coming off as pastiche.

While the vintage sounds become the album’s key characteristic, there’s enough experimentation elsewhere to provide the album with variety and flavour.

On the Floor is a moody, driving synth-pop banger in the style of Depeche Mode at their most perverted, guiding listeners into a dark, sleazy world.

Moonbend is a soft, lilting ballad that finds Hadreas at his most vulnerable, pining in a wounded falsetto over penetrative bass and organ stab.

Nothing at All is pushed forward with a pulsing bass and a rising distorted synth, the vocals creating an ambient and engrossing atmosphere before the track collides into a bruising clash of sounds.

Overall, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately is the most accomplished and concise Perfume Genius album yet, building on all his prior work to create a powerful, forceful piece of art that stands head and shoulders above his other albums. – Jack Murphy

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Psycho & Plastic: Placid House
Placid House

This is a fascinating album. This first I know of to be conceived, written, recorded and released during lockdown, under all the necessary restrictions.

Although Psycho and Plastic (aka Thomas and Alex) are both now based in Berlin after spending most of the noughties studying in Liverpool, they didn’t physically meet in the process of creating this album, probably their best to date.

As ever, the finest work appears out of necessity and somehow against the odds and this album proves the point. Just a brief glance at the titles reveals that there is a bigger story to tell here than Berlin’s usual fare of anonymous, disposable techno.

This is an ambient album, but more eloquently described by the title as Placid House, hopefully, the birth of a genre. It’s not techno with the drums muted, these are pieces composed as such and (thankfully) exploring emotional territory beyond the blissful.

The reference points are minimalism, the gentler corners of Krautrock and the influence that had on Fripp and Eno, all the way through to Durutti Column and the 90’s ambient of The Orb.

The opener, Brimming with Anticipation sets the scene wonderfully. Distant Frippesque guitars, delay piano and pulsing crackles, wistfully playing more with nostalgia than the ironic anticipation of the title.

The sound world expands as the album progresses: field recordings, the broad synth washes of Jean-Michel Jarre or Tangerine Dream, the pulsing guitars of Michael Rother are all flavours that materialize from the mist.

Neither Factory Records bleakness nor comforting 90’s chill-out, but deftly finding a poignant path between the two. That’s the key to appreciating this album; it’s not gloomy, but questioning.

We don’t have answers to how we feel or even where we go from here and as such Placid House is such a valuable artefact of our dislocated and uncertain times. – Jono Podmore

Public Practice: Gentle Grip
Wharf Cat

When we pulled a couple of inadvisable all-nighters a few weeks ago, mining the John Peel Archive, one of the bands who stood out was a 70’s fave – Au Pairs.

And, then, here comes their grown-up, 2020 version of a long lost sibling.

The first thing we thought of when we heard this album was how much there are similarities between the two bands. And Gang of Four and The Raincoats.

Gentle Grip is a magic and enjoyable romp around the style of those post-punk bands who played around with rhythm and sporadic guitars. Nothing overpowers, they all wait their turn for their moment, before retreating to let another bit of the song do its thing.

Disposable, for example, is a song that could have been written and recorded in the 70’s but has a kind of more polished feel to it. It’s as if Au Pairs had re-mixed their early albums 40 years later – this is what they would sound like. Edgy, dance-worthy, political and damn fine.

There’s the funk of Underneath, another 70’s throwback sound brought right up to date. See You When I Want To could well have been written by Andy Gill, thumping bass lines and all.

But just because there are clear references to bands we used to listen to years ago doesn’t make this any less of a piece of work. In fact, quite the opposite.

It looks back, for sure, but it brings the mood right up to date. And does it in fine style.

Highlight track may well be the reggae / Slits infused My Head buried in the middle of the album.

As we write this review, it’s probably the hottest day of the year so far. It’s a perfect soundtrack.

Pour a beer and play this one loud in your back garden. The neighbours will thank you.

Feel-good tunes. – Peter Goodbody

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The Room in the Wood: We’re the Martians, Now
Bandcamp

OK, confession time. The first time I heard this album, I quietly decided it wasn’t really my kind of thing at all.

As you can imagine, we get a lot of CDs and streams to listen to here at Getintothis and, regrettably, sometimes were are unable to give more than a cursory listen to a good amount of them.

So, when I listened to the latest album from The Room in the Wood, it kind of passed me by and I turned to some ear-shredding drum and bass to entertain me.

But, I have an interest in this band, partly because we are always keen to promote talent from the local area, but also because I was a huge fan of The Room back in the day, two members of which comprise The Room in the Wood.

So, thankfully, I came back to their latest album and this was very much the right thing to do.

We’re the Martians, Now is a clever record and one that repays repeated listens by revealing it’s many layers. Personally, I have always been a fan of albums that grow on you, that have something going on under the bonnet, as I think these have a musical and emotional intelligence.

Happily, they are often the albums that you end up loving the most, something that will certainly be the case with We’re the Martians, Now.

Things get off to a good start with Diamond Clouds, that has  a riff and groove kind of halfway between the Rolling Stones and The Verve.

There is a lack of studio trickery here that places us almost in the same room with these songs. Dave Jackson‘s voice particularly is left bare and quite high in the mix. The result is an honesty that makes the songs more beautiful and more expressive and that provides an intimacy missing from more over produced songs.

This isn’t to say that We’re the Martians, Now is under produced, just that the production sounds as if it was approached with a view to capturing the band as they are.

The Room in the Wood are a band I find it hard to draw comparisons to, to identify where their influences come from. There are a few hints here and there that the band may not have even countenanced. Hints of Johnny Cash or a more pastoral Nick Cave maybe.

It is also hard to pinpoint an era that feeds in their music. Stowaway has a 50’s elegance to it, while Blue has an air of 90s shoegaze.

Album highlight Shimmer is the kind of song that lodges itself in your head and refuses to move.  “Does it get any better? It could always get worse” croons Jackson over a delicate and haunting guitar line.

Other songs such as Fun of the Fair show that The Room in the Wood can take things up a gear and rock out when they want to. There is a vein of rockabilly that runs through their songs when they do this.

Dragonfly takes us again in a pastoral direction, complete with flute intro, acoustic guitar and an almost 60s pychedelia-like whimsy about the whole thing.

Last track The Earth is Flat has a swagger and an attitude and closes the album on a quirky high.

We’re the Martians, Now is an album that exists outside of current convention and fads. It is also one that will repay the investment of your time.

A total triumph. Get involved and fall for its charms. – Banjo

Rose City Band: Summerlong
Thrill Jockey

Should we talk about the weather, should we talk about the government, hi, hi…

So sang Michael Stipe on R.E.M.‘s gloriously satirical Green album opener Pop ’89.  And it’s the primary reason why it’s a banned subject (the weather) on Getintothis.

If you’re talking about the weather, you’ve pretty much little else to write home about.

So, we’re gonna break that rule straight off the bat with Rose City Band‘s Summerlong. A record which is the very essence of a beautiful summer morning.

The follow up to 2019’s eponymous debut, finds Ripley Johnson in characteristically effervescent form exuding breezy sunshine grooves for 41 minutes of the follow up record.

Known for his work with the superlative contemporary psychedelic outfits Wooden Shjips and Moon DuoRose City Band is unmistakable to anyone accustomed to Johnson‘s regular output – however, where the ‘dayjob’ bands are drenched in walls of echo, delay and dense walls of fuzz this is stripped back, natural fun.

There’s little complexity to Summerlong – it is exactly what’s on the proverbial tin, an easy-going array of gently-swaggering sunny grooves.

Opener Only Lonely sets the tone with a Canned Heat Going Up The Country good-times country-infused kick, Morning Light is a melodic sprightly waltz with dancing lead guitar while Floating Up is literally that – an airy, barely-there aural comfort blanket.

If all this sounds kinda throwaway, that’s perhaps the point – Johnson originally intended Rose City Band as a personal project with zero promotion; an act of liberation away from the industry’s reliance on campaigns and PR.

And by keeping it luxuriously relaxed and imbued with his love of the summer, Johnson has created the ideal sound for the season – just kick back, breathe in and let the gorgeous ray of musical sunshine wash right over you. – Peter Guy

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Sleaford Mods: All That Glue
Rough Trade

English punk duo Sleaford Mods stormed the album chart this week, with new album All That Glue.

A 22-track compilation of the duo’s most vitriolic tracks, including early singles, B-sides, and well-known crowd pleasers, it’s not hard to understand why All That Glue was automatically popular.

The collection of tracks are from all different parts of the pair’s career, each taking hold of different modern day issues, proving what we pretty much already knew – Williamson can rant about just about, anything.

From TCR showcasing him as a Dad in his forties attempting to control chaos within the household, to fan-favourite Jolly Fucker showing their anger towards all aspects of society.

Album opener McFlurry gives you a taste for the entire album, with Williamson doing what he does best, as he screams ‘I got a Brit Award’.

Yet, by the end of the album, a less aggressive, more electronic take on their iconic sound is shown, as When You Come Up To Me makes you question whether this is a taster of their next direction in music.

The entire collection embodies the virtues of working class-intellect, authenticity, and disrespect.

Known for being completely outspoken when it comes to society, All That Glue is a classic Sleaford Mods’ attack on austerity-ridden Britain.

And, the album couldn’t of arrived at a better time, as the government come under-fire more than ever.

All That Glue proves an impressive listen, as not one song gets lost amongst the other 21, and it proves that their new releases are just as captivating as the duo’s well-known anthems.

If All That Glue is setting the tone for their next record, then fans are in for a treat. – Danni King

Sparks: A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip
BMG

There can’t be many bands who are releasing an album almost 50 years since their debut.

And even less who are currently enjoying a renaissance such as the one being afforded to Sparks, both critically and by the record buying public.

And that acceptance that there is currently a bigger audience than there has been at times throughout their career seems to have sparked (pardon the pun) something of a confident heartbeat that pulses throughout the record.

Uplifting, almost anthemic opener All That seems to acknowledge their length of service, in life as well as music, whilst sounding like the first song in a musical of their lives.

“All that we’ve done, we’ve lost and we’ve won, all that we’ve seen, we’ve heard and we’ve dreamed, all that and more.”

Lawnmower is splendid, full to the brim of constant “la-la-la’s” with such curious imagery, “My girlfriend is from Andover, she puts up with my lawnmower”.

The la-la’s bleed into Sainthood Is Not In Your Future, with the welcome addition of an acoustic guitar to drive it on.

The brothers Mael have got quite the set up around them, with a hand-picked selection of musicians helping them out, giving them a lusher, most purposeful backing.

The frivolity of the first few songs comes to an end on the dramatic Pacific Standard Time and the gentle flamenco chug of the catchy Left Out In The Cold, which could have been an offcut from their remarkable FFS album they made with Franz Ferdinand a few years back.

Recent single One For The Ages, as pleasant as it is, is actually one of the weaker tracks, leaving you wondering why they didn’t choose one of the many other candidates to lead off the album.

As with most of their albums, there are songs that leave you aghast that they even exist, such is the thought process that must see them come to life.

Stravinsky’s Only Hit certainly fits in that bracket, it’s just stunning.

And then towards the end, you think it must pale somewhere, there must be some filler of some sort on a 14 track, 54 minute album.

Not a bit of it.

iPhone says everything about life in 2020 (“put your f***in iPhone down and listen to me”), and it’s only with the mention of such cultural references you remember that the brothers who are making this are 71 and 74 years of age.

Which just make you love this collection even more.

It closes at it begins, wearing its heart on its sleeve, with the glorious Please Don’t F*** Up My World, which sounds like the main song in a Greta Thunberg musical.

It’s got a bit of everything, yet it could only ever be Sparks.

Here’s to another 50 years. – Steven Doherty

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Swamp Dogg: Sorry You Couldn’t Make It
Joyful Noise Recordings

In the grand scheme of things, Swamp Dogg‘s blues aren’t right up there.

He’s not getting much sleep, is skint and is missing his woman real bad.

Welcome to the club, sunny Jim – but there’s viral warfare going down, so you’re just gonna have to get your shit together.

Luckily for us, these universal woes are stacked up alongside sunshine-infused soulful grooves which marry the mundane to the marvellous.

More than 30 years in the making, Sorry You Couldn’t Make It, is somewhat of a compilation of 77-year-old Swamp‘s recordings from down the years and performed by an all-star ensemble and the main man himself.

Mr Dogg aka Jerry Williams has been in the recording industry since the 1950s and with country, blues and soul forming the basis of his oeuvre, he’s here today leading the likes of Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon, Nashville guitar icon Jim Oblon, vocalist Jenny Lewis, Polica‘s Chris Beirden and the recently departed folk legend John Prine.

Together, they’ve produced a supremely heart-warming album wrapped around Dogg‘s tales of love, loss and roller-coaster life lessons.

There’s bar-room blues lamenting crack cocaine (Family Pain), melancholic waltzes (Please Let Me Go Round Again) and brass-bomping funk n’ soul (Good, Better, Best) all of which will butter up your muffin.

Gospel guru Derek Lee‘s organ is the star of the show on multiple occasions not least on the opening Sleeping Without You Is A Dragg while a swoonful reworking of Swamp Dogg‘s 1970’s biggest ‘hit’, Don’t Take Her (She’s All I Got) serves as the centre-piece for the whole caboodle.

Sure, Swamp Dogg‘s got the blues but when he cooks it up this good, you’re kinda left hoping his luck don’t change in immediate future. – Peter Guy


Jim White and Marisa Anderson: The Quickening
Thrill Jockey

Dirty Three and one half of Xylouris White, the legendary Jim White, teams up with American eternal drifter, Marisa Anderson, to give us their debut collaboration album, The Quickening.

Where White is concerned, superlatives such as ‘legendary’ may seem outlandish, but when you’re one of the best in the business and most certainly the most talented skins-man to derive from the land down under, then such terms are most certainly fitting in describing White and his unique free-jazz-inspired drumming.

Anderson has wandered through the marshlands of avant-garde, blues and folk music for many years, most recently with her trancelike 2018 offering, Cloud Corner, and alongside White it seems like the spirits have finally aligned.

With opening track, Gathering, White‘s radiant improvisation and spitfire drum rolls coupled with Anderson‘s electric blues-folk meanderings paint a picture of what we are in for here.

Unwritten is more of a contemplative piece with Anderson‘s ambient blues-laden guitars taking centre stage as White‘s subtle percussion work kisses off the tom-toms like pebble skimming across a pond.

Diver, the album’s title track and Pallet run in seamless succession with cinematic sprawls of drunken beats and rich folk-laden guitars finding a mesmeric symmetry.

The Quickening‘s most beautiful juncture arrives at its end, in November. Anderson‘s finger-picking and White‘s off-kilter drum fills creating a luscious tone and a new-world atmosphere.

With The Quickening, White‘s hypnotic butcher-like slices from behind the drum-kit are a dizzying appendage to Anderson‘s spidery guitar contributions. Her melodies float like a dream, weaving in and out of White‘s rhythmic rumbles.

With ten tracks at just under forty minutes, with The Quickening White and Anderson stumble upon lovely pockets of space vacated by their previous musical endeavours. The pair have struck up a lovely partnership and it will be interesting where this project moves to from here. – Simon Kirk

Claire Welles: In Quarantine
Self Released

Coronavirus social distancing has been really cruel to music, with no gigs, no fun, no income.

But if the evil gods of silence thought they could defeat Claire Welles, they should have known better. They’ve messed with the wrong person.

One of the most prolific artists since pop music was invented, Liverpool’s Welles has created a brand new album inspired by and produced during the British lockdown.

It’s even more impressive that the appropriately named In Quarantine is already her second LP of 2020, with her recently released Fluke still fresh, only a couple of months old, and deserving of a good listening.

With In Quarantine, Welles continues to show her incredible skills in writing great, catchy tunes surrounded by 1980s synthesizers and electronic drums. Her Marc Bolan-inspired vocals makes her 21st century glam-post-punk-electronic pop even more alluring.

The record opens with the revealing Hiatus;Don’t know how to put it / But I’m slipping into a hiatus.” We’ve all been in one, Claire.

I’m highly unlikely to get any smarter / It’s suits me just fine.” We love when an artist says exactly what we’ve been feeling.

There’s been so much talk about crazy dreams during lockdown, and second track College is about that, a “college dream” leaving the dreamer “dehydrated”.

Quarantine, the song, talks about a confused world where we can’t see our families and the days are too long. It’s a slower, ethereal tune, just like real life in quarantine.

It’s followed by Highrise and the wish to live in a place where one can feel the wind and get drunk.

Welles has come up with very good combinations of lyrics, music and sounds to portray the lockdown experience, and the rhythm of Super Spreader is another example.

Drums sounding as if the police are banging on your door serve as the basis for the verses “It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like / You’ve got to stay, you’ve got to stay inside”.

As bonuses in this timely record are two previously released tracks on newly remixed versions. One is, of course, 2019’s Viral Infection, remixed by Welles herself, while Luke Mawdsley updates her excellent and more recent Man Ray.

We’ve all been enduring social distancing the best way we can, and so has Claire Welles.

We’re lucky that making new music is how she deals with confinement. Long live the resistance. – Rogerio Simoes

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Charli XCX: How I’m Feeling Now
Atlantic

While we’re all sat bored in quarantine, Charli XCX in her true workaholic manner set herself the challenge of making an album within 6 weeks.

Despite the tight deadline, the album in no way feels rushed. It’s clearly the result of the round the clock work she’s put on full display on social media each step of the way.

Executive producers A.G Cook, Dylan Brady and BJ Burton bring their distinctive, futuristic volatility to the album which submerges Charli into her most experimental sounding album yet.

Being stuck together with her boyfriend in quarantine with her tenuous, long-distance relationship on the rocks has provided some perspective for Charli. The upfront, rekindling of her adoration for him is on full display in the album’s lyrics such as Claws’ mantra of ‘I like everything about you’.

Amongst joyous lyrics, some sombre themes are included too such as an almost intrusive clip of her thoughts after a therapy session on enemy. Despite some tough themes, Charli’s non-stop rave aesthetic is still here as always in an unprecedented, wholly glitchy fashion.

The ear-melting opener pink diamond is Charli’s harshest song to date with the chorus of ‘I just wanna go real hard” seeming like an understatement.

The real ‘diamond’ of this project though is forever. The heart-on-sleeve adoration for her boyfriend Charli instils in her robotic warbles is beautiful and arguably her best track yet.

How I’m feeling now is the result of all of our experiences of quarantine, perfectly exemplified with the montage of her fans’ clips of their favourite memories in the forever video.

However, it’s also the perfect album to have while we’re stuck in this whirlwind crisis. With sentimental digi-croons and pulsating bangers, the album is perfect for a cathartic cry but the liberating dance you’ve been needing afterwards. – Jason Simon

Vistas: Everything Changes In The End
Retrospect Records

This is quite the rare thing, a debut album that we are already au fait with, as it seems to have been years in the making.

Over half of it has already been previously released in one form or another, so it’s over-familiarity could easily breed contempt.

But thankfully there’s a lot more going on here than just retreading not so past glories.

Vistas seem unwilling and, more importantly, unable to put out a bad song.

It must have been a nightmare for them deciding on the tracklisting as they’ve got so much other quality older stuff that could easily have, but hasn’t, made the cut.

There are 13 singalong bangers on here, with not a moment wasted.

And good for them that the album is actually out now when bands are, by and large, sitting on their new material.

This current situation is an absolute shame for them in a way, every song on here sounds like it was written to be shouted back at the band whilst standing in a field or a big tent.

Especially Summer, which would have definitely been this year’s ‘song to remember your festival by’.

Retrospect is an earlier single pearler, Tigerblood should have been the single that sent them stratospheric, and the album’s the title track could be the one that yet does.

Hopefully, Vistas don’t get bundled in with any of these newer bands full of herberts attempting (and failing, yes, we see you Sea Girls, Sports Team etc) to make precise pop songs such as the likes of The Love You Give and Sucker, both examples of their perfectly crafted pure pop tunes.

Please, fellow record buyers, whatever you do, do not let Vistas pass you by, making a debut as good as this is a hard craft excellently executed. – Steven Doherty

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