Album of the week: FEWS – Into Red

FEWS - Into Red album cover

The second album from Swedish/US post-punk group FEWS sees the band building on the unique sound developed on debut album Means.

What we have with Into Red is a more mature sound, greater use of atmosphere, heavier guitars and a sometimes slower pace. This is epitomised on opening track Quiet, which is anything but. It incorporates elements of shoegaze, isn’t afraid to hold the pace up where necessary, and sheds the sometimes jangly guitars of the last album for something much beefier.

Paradiso continues this trend, while still being unmistakably FEWS. The vocals have more of a drawl to them and the effect-laden guitars in the chorus section are something to behold.

There are some hark-backs to earlier days. More Than Ever is a classic up-tempo indie rock number that, while not hugely original in design, is brilliantly executed. Anything Else recalls Ill from their debut album, before taking us off in a slightly different direction with some stupendous guitar bursts. Over provides us with a proper post-punk opening, a high tempo and a fabulous chorus.

Elsewhere there are new delights to entertain us. Business Man is driven along by piano and bass until distorted synths kick in as the guitars keep building on each other. 97 provides us with a desolate opening using a single echoing guitar and soft vocal before the guitars break over you. It contains quite a discordant riff that at first sounds off, but eventually falls perfectly into place.

There’s even the addition of a little bit of 80s synth on Limits, though this is kept to a minimum across the album.

A highly impressive sophomore for this band, which I would advise anyone with a soft spot for loud guitars to listen to. You won’t regret it.

Release date: 01 March 2019

Rating: 9/10

Standout track: Quiet

For fans of:

  • Shame
  • Moaning
  • Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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Album review: White Lies – Five

White Lies - Five album cover

London post-punk 3-piece White Lies release their fifth studio album a decade after their first came out, with the band pushing hard on the oh-so-fashionable alternative 80’s vibe. A lot of familiar synth noises back up their guitar work on an enjoyable, but ultimately unremarkable, work.

Opener Time to Give, is quite emblematic of the album as a whole, starting with some soft echo-laden keyboards before moving into a indie-pop vibe with synth overtones. Nice enough, but then it throws in a keyboard break that doesn’t really feel like it fits with the rest of the track and keeps going with it.

Never Alone is piece that uses a throbbing keyboard bass line to push the track along, adding a touch of Editors alongside the pop elements of the track. Pushing the pop even further is Tokyo, which feels like it was written to maximise radio airtime.

Everywhere you turn on this album you can feel the influences screaming at you. Kick Me, for example kicks you in the face with Pink Floyd before a change in direction brings you to towards an actually quite satisfying crescendo. Denial starts like ‘Every Breath You Take’ by The Police, though the chorus is a lot more dramatic than Sting’s version.

Some of the synth/guitar combos across the album, particularly on Jo?, land somewhere between Bon Jovi and Van Halen, which may be a good or bad thing depending on your predisposition to those artists.

To my mind, the band saves the best until last with Fire and Wings, a classic loud-soft effort that at moments sounds like a collaboration between Gary Newman and Nirvana.

In many ways, Five is reminiscent of the recent Twilight Sad album, but doesn’t quite reach the same heights. Rather than pulling threads of reminiscence from their influences, White Lies have instead chosen a more direct borrowing from their past favourites the album. Add to that the vocals of Harry McVeigh, which are competent if not outstanding and you have a work that is nice enough to listen to, but I can’t see it staying on my favourites playlist for too long.

Release date: 01 February 2019

Rating: 6/10

Standout track: Fire and Wings

For fans of:

  • Editors
  • Interpol
  • The Twilight Sad

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2018 Music Review – August

As summer hits its stride (though I do recall the weather starting to get worse at this point) there were some top album releases, and plenty to make you jump about.

First, the quieter moments were provided by the likes of Kathryn Joseph whose delicate album of heartfelt songs had an ethereal quality to them. There was also an impressive reworking of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons by Anna Meredith. Rather than messing too much with Vivaldi’s composition she provided a rich framework around the pieces, interpsersing her own works that gave the originals space to breath and added a new layer of experience to this classic piece.

Interpol‘s latest album Marauder, didn’t really pull up and trees, but it was competent enough and their musical approach always pleases me.

Nothing flew the shoegaze flag this month while female trio Our Girl provided the indie-pop fix. Warm Drag‘s excellent debut album added a 60s go-go feel to dubby synth with a dash of indie rock thrown in to the mix as well.

Justice’s live-not-live album was also a welcome reminder of just how good this electro-dance band are when playing to a crowd – even when there’s not one there.

A strong showing from punk this month too, with Slaves and Right Shitty producing some excellent moments on their respective albums. And it was punk that also provided the album of the month.

It was never really in any doubt that IDLES would be my top album of the month. Their debut album Brutalism was probably my favourite of 2017, and Joy as an Act of Resistance built on that magnificent start with a series of hugely infectious riffs coupled with Joe Talbots’s brilliantly simple lyrical style. Their awesomeness was brought home when they played a small venue in Brighton as part of their album launch. It was an amazing experience and I suspect we will never see them playing such a small venue again. They are destined for great things.

Top 10 August 2018

1: IDLES – Joy as an Act of Resistance

Standout track: Never Fight A Man With A Perm

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2: Justice – Woman Worldwide

Standout track: Chrous (WWW)

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3: Anna Meredith & Antonio Vivaldi – ANNO: Four Seasons

Standout track: Thunder – Summer

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4: Warm Drag – Warm Drag

Standout track: Cave Crawl

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5: Slaves – Acts of Fear and Love

Standout track: Photo Opportunity

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6: Right Shitty – Bachelor of Arts

Standout track: Best Buzz

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7: Our Girl – Stranger Today

Standout track: Our Girl

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8: Interpol – Marauder

Standout track: The Rover

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9: Nothing – Dance On The Blacktop

Standout track: Blue Line Baby

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10: Kathryn Joseph – From When I Wake The Want Is

Standout track: Mouths Full Of Blood

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