Due to very forseen delays in being able to both listen to new music and write about it, this is the rather delayed ratings from 29th March. It’s a shorter list than normal as I’m trying to do two weeks at once.
Playlist at the bottom.
Lower Slaughter – Some Things Take Work
Album 0f the week. Heavy, raucous, clever. A right rollocking riff-tastic grind and a worthy successor to their brilliant debut ‘What Big Eyes’.
The Underground Youth – Montage Images Of Lust & Fear
Elements of the Velvet Underground in this and the Berlin/Manchester post-punk band have some distinct resemblence to fellow Germans Die Nerven, who featured highly on my albums of the year list for 2018 with Fake. This doesn’t quite reaching the heights of that album but definitely worth a listen for fans of Bauhaus, Nick Cave and Joy Division.
The fourth studio album from Southend’s Barnett twins is probably the most accessible These New Puritans album so far. Do expect too many roller coaster-type thrills on Inside The Rose, but this is most certainly a rewarding listen for TNP fans and newcomers alike.
There are some delicious moments of contrasting light and dark tones on this album – often at the same time. Opener Infinity Vibraphones is a case in point. It is both soft and ominous, with the vibraphones of the track name providing a juxtaposition of impatient relaxation, rounded off with some emotive strings and a militaristic drumbeat.
This contrast of near blissful tones against a dark background features strongly on other tracks, such as A-R-P, with its arpeggiated keyboards giving way to some much softer tones interspersed with the occasional brief bout of heavy distorted bass.
Like several of the tracks on Inside the Rose, the rhythm section is nowhere to be found on ARP, until very late on in the track. Where The Trees Are On Fire employs a similar tactic, which until the final third is a slow, beautiful lament, and the only real deployment of TNP’s trademark brass section on the album.
The reluctance to put real rhythm behind a lot of the tracks can feel frustrating at times, as the sense is that’s it’s always just around the corner, and on tracks such as Beyond Black Sun, it can start to feel a little dirge-like. However, the overall ominous beauty that’s on show overshadows this and while there are still some notes of discordance that TNP are well-known for, such as on Anti-Gravity or the twisted rhythms on the challenging but ultimately rewarding Into The Fire, they are nowhere near the levels seen on previous works.
Another fine work from a now well-established band exploring the possibilities within their unique style.
Not sure if I’m in a mood this week but didn’t unearth a huge amount of releases of interest this week, but the new one by These New Puritans looks promising. There’s a debut album from Crows, who are supporting the fabulous IDLES on tour this spring and a live album from the genius Gospel/Death Metal crossover that is Zeal & Ardor. 90s indie-rock stalwartsSleeper also return with their first new album in 21 years.
Teeth Of The Sea have produced an absorbing album that mixes electronica, ambient, dance and jazz with a splash of psych rock and even a touch of avent-garde, while managing to maintain its sense of direction throughout.
On Wraith, the band is not shy on using brass to create that jazzy noir feeling but ensure it doesn’t dominate proceedings, and just when you feel that things are in danger of running aground they surprise you with a change up that pulls you back in once again.
I’d Rather, Jack as an opening piece, lays the groundwork for the rest of the album, fusing a simple heavy drum line with synths, trumpet, some electronic soundscapes and electric guitars. At times it feels like a film noir set in a sweaty nightclub.
That trend continues with the brooding Hiraeth, which flirts with becoming too jazzy before deep bass and grungy guitars fully redeems it.
Fortean Steed explores a more atmospheric, swirling electronic motif, incorporating echoing plucked electric guitars with some folky female choral voices and effect-laden glockenspiel.
There’s some masterful work going on in the track Our Love Can Destroy This Whole Fucking World, where not a whole lot seems to be happening but yet you are hooked from the first note to the last bar. Very reminiscent of the last year’s fantastic album by Nils Frahm.
Where the album really takes off is when the beats speed up and the loops take you on a hypnotic journey, such as in the excellent VISITOR and the brilliantly-titled Gladiators Ready – which transforms into a proper mid-tempo banger worthy of any acid rave.
There was enough variety and depth to this album to make it my album of the week, despite some very strong competition. Get your ears round it now.