01 Feb releases – Reviewed and rated

Here’s my view on what were the best albums released last Friday 1st February. There’s a fair few links to my fuller (though still not too long) reviews here too. There’s also a Spotify sample playlist so you can make you own mind up about the artists.

The Specials - Encore album cover

The Specials – Encore

The kings of Ska return to put the world to rights – and don’t we just need it.

Rating: 7.5/10Read full review

Listen on Spotify

Boy Harsher - Careful album cover

Boy Harsher – Careful

Strong on ominous, brooding 80’s electro pop. If you liked the music in Stranger Things, you’re on to a winner with this.

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

Listen on Spotify

Finlay Shakespeare - Domestic Economy album cover

Finlay Shakespeare – Domestic Economy

A fine slab of acid-infused electro pop that shows great promise for a debut album.

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

Listen on Spotify

Cherry Glazerr - Stuffed & Ready album cover

Cherry Glazerr – Stuffed & Ready

A competent and mature third effort from the LA post-punk trio.

Rating: 7/10 – Read full review

Listen on Spotify

White Lies - Five album cover

White Lies – Five

An enjoyable if unremarkable 80’s-influenced indie, post-punk opus with pop sensibilities. Reminiscent of so much but unable to build upon it influences.

Rating: 6/10Read full review

Listen on Spotify

Unloved - Heartbreak album cover

Unloved – Heartbreak

Invoking the spirits of Motown and dreamy 60’s french pop while injecting a touch of modernity. Some really nice moments interspersed across this album.

Rating: 6/10

Listen on Spotify

Spielbergs - This Is Not The End album cover

Spielbergs – This Is Not The End

Indie punk with a touch of early R.E.M around the sides. Pleasant enough, but not pulling up any roots.

Rating: 5.5/10

Listen on Spotify

Girlpool - What Chaos Is Imaginary album cover

Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary

A punk band exploring new indie direction – unfortunately not entirely successfully.

Rating: 5/10

Listen on Spotify

Beirut - Gallipoli album cover

Beirut – Gallipoli

Indie-folk with added brass. Strong overtones of The Smiths in both vocal and musical style. Doesn’t fare well by comparison.

Rating: 5/10

Listen on Spotify

Ian Brown - Ripples album cover

Ian Brown – Ripples

A plodding effort from King Monkey that aspires to classic Roses, but falls far, far short.

Rating: 4.5/10Read full review

Listen on Spotify

Within Temptation - Resist album cover

Within Temptation – Resist

Over-the-top goth metal with symphonic overtones. No doubt would do well as an ‘alternative’ Dutch entry on Eurovision. A worthy successor to Lordi.

Rating: 4/10

Listen on Spotify

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

Listen on Spotify

New Music Friday 01 February – What to listen to

Another glut of new releases to work through. Of today’s debuts we see the likes of Ian Brown, The Specials and White Lies offering up some fresh material. I’ll review the best through the coming week and rate them all as I go along.

Ian Brown – Ripples

The Specials – Encore

White Lies – Five

Cherry Glazerr – Suffed & Ready

Finlay Shakespeare – Domestic Economy

Beirut – Gallipoli

Girlpool – What Chaos Is Imaginary

Boy Harsher – Careful

Within Temptation – Resist

Unloved – Heartbreak

Spielbergs – This Is Not The End