Albums of the week

This week

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    One Direction - FOUR
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    Release Name
    FOUR
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by One Direction
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    £5.99
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    Proving the lean, mean, unit-shifting machine that is One Direction never sleeps, the boys are back and sharing their fourth album in as many years. Four was preceded by the single ‘Steal My Girl’, and accompanied by the sort of wildly-extravagant, Mojave Desert-set video that implies major label marketing budgets aren’t feeling the pinch just yet. Interestingly, it’s only by listening to it without Harry and co cavorting before you – not to mention the sumo wrestlers, marching band, Maasai warriors and Danny Devito/performing chimp double-act – that you appreciate the song for the world-beating pop anthem it is. Add to that tracks written with Ed Sheeran and Jamie “Story of My Life” Scott, and it’s clear 1D won’t be relinquishing their tenure at the top of the charts any time soon.

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    TV On The Radio - Seeds
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    Release Name
    Seeds
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by TV On The Radio
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    To say TV On The Radio have had a turbulent time of it since 2011’s Nine Types Of Light is putting it mildly. First floored by the untimely passing of bassist Gerard Smith, they were then faced with the unenviable task of untangling themselves from their recording contract. The fact the band survived at all is a huge achievement in itself, but when you take into account the quality of the songwriting on Seeds, their comeback feels like something of a mini-miracle. Taking in the turbo-charged punk of ‘Lazerray’, the stately synth-pop of ‘Careful You’, and the polyrhythmic groove of ‘Quartz’, TVOTR’s fifth album is simultaneously the sound of a band reborn, and a rip-roaring return to form.

Previous weeks

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    Foo Fighters - Sonic Highways
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    Release Name
    Sonic Highways
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Foo Fighters
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    £7.92
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    If the fact the Foos have been together two decades makes you misty-eyed over your misspent youth, imagine how the band felt with the anniversary looming. Revelling in that sense of nostalgia, Dave Grohl and co elected to embark upon a cultural pilgrimage, reconnecting with the roots of American music in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C., and laying down a new track in each city with help from Nevermind-producer Butch Vig. The slick, stadium-ready Sonic Highways rounds up the results.

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    Pink Floyd - The Endless River
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    Release Name
    The Endless River
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Pink Floyd
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    £10.49
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    Review

    When Roger Waters was reunited with Dave Gilmour at 2005’s Live 8 London extravaganza, rumours of fresh Pink Floyd material spread like wildfire, and have continued to circulate ever since. Nine years on, the band have finally obliged, albeit not quite in the manner you might expect. Firstly, the songs on their 15th long-player were actually begun during sessions for 1994’s The Division Bell, secondly, they’re largely instrumental, and thirdly Waters has had no involvement whatsoever. The Endless River does, however, feature posthumous performances from founding member Richard Wright, lending these graceful soundscapes added poignancy.

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    Calvin Harris - Motion (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    Motion
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Calvin Harris
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    Now officially the highest-earning DJ on the planet, we like to imagine Calvin Harris sat on a throne in his gold-coated pleasure palace, sourcing guest vocalists simply by lazily scrolling through his phonebook: “Goulding? Yeah, I’ll give her a call. Stefani? Why not?” Also joining Harris for some EDM fun are John Newman, R3hab, Hurts, Big Sean, Tinashe and Alesso, plus everyone’s favourite sister act Haim. Suffice to say, ubiquity beckons.

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    Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy
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    Release Name
    My Favourite Faded Fantasy
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Damien Rice
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    £7.92
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    There are reluctant stars, and then there’s Damien Rice; a man so disillusioned with the music industry he bad-mouthed his second album, then disappeared for eight whole years. As the folk singer has since explained, “Sometimes you have to step away from what you love in order to love it again.” You can certainly tell that passion’s returned to him here. Recorded in LA and Iceland with über-producer Rick Rubin, My Favourite Faded Fantasy is rich in raw emotion and lushly-arranged melodies.

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    The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants To Be Here & Nobody Wants To Leave
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    Nobody Wants To Be Here & Nobody Wants To Leave
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by The Twilight Sad
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    Having spent a decade rendering misery exquisite, The Twilight Sad aren’t about to deviate from that sense of impending doom just yet. Offering up songs with titles like ‘Drown So I Can Watch’ and ‘Pills I Swallow’, the Kilsyth trio’s fourth album might appear foreboding in its gloom, but sonically it’s actually their most welcoming effort yet. The cold, industrial sounds that pervaded the last LP are now pared-back, and there’s a new-found sensitivity to their shoegaze guitar textures. Combine this with arguably their strongest songwriting to date, and the result is a record to cocoon yourself in during the dark winter months.

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    Taylor Swift - 1989
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    Release Name
    1989
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Taylor Swift
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    Notable events in 1989: the Berlin Wall came down, Václav Havel became the first democratically elected president of Czechoslovakia, Denmark legalised civil partnerships for same-sex couples, and in a hospital in Reading, Pennsylvania, Andrea Swift gave birth to a baby girl named Taylor. Naturally, it’s the latter cultural landmark that’s celebrated here. Described by Swift as her “very first official, documented pop album”, this fifth opus was inspired by the “bold, risky” work that Madonna and Annie Lennox made in the late 80s. She’s taken no chances in regards to her commercial appeal, however, working with Max Martin, Ryan Tedder and fun.-guitarist Jack Antonoff, and creating world-beating pop hits like ‘Shake It Off’.

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    Ben Howard - I Forget Where We Were
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    Release Name
    I Forget Where We Were
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Ben Howard
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    Being an acoustic balladeer and avid surfer, Devon lad Ben Howard has always been beleaguered by lazy comparisons to Jack Johnson. This second studio album should help Howard put some blue sky between himself and the Hawaiian troubadour. More ambitious in its scope than 2011 debut Every Kingdom, I Forget Where We Were finds the BRIT Award-winner plugging-in, letting go creatively, and showcasing a more complex side to his songwriting in the process. Thematically, his subject matter is as heart-on-sleeve as ever, but then you wouldn’t want it any other way, would you?

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    Scott Walker + Sunn O))) - Soused
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    Release Name
    Soused
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Scott Walker + Sunn O)))
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    £4.45
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    Review

    Scott Walker working with drone metal legends Sunn O)))? Yes, it’s the kind of collaboration that makes you double-take, but look deeper and you’ll see they’re both driven by a desire to displace the listener in their malevolent – often brutal – soundscapes. The Walker-penned, Sunn O)))-aided Soused is no exception. Whips crack, dissonant saxophones wail and doomy riffs reverberate, while Walker makes primal subjects seem poetic with vivid imagery and that gloriously-grandiose baritone. Oppressive as it unquestionably gets at times, overall Soused feels less foreboding than Bish Bosch or Monoliths + Dimensions, and yet is arguably more mesmeric than either.