Albums of the week

This week

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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)
    Artist Name
    by Ben Howard
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    £5.99
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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)
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    by Scott Walker + Sunn O)))
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    £4.99
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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.

Previous weeks

  • Cover Art
    Jessie Ware - Tough Love
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    Release Name
    Tough Love
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Jessie Ware
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    £8.99
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    Review

    Aside from those exquisitely-honeyed tones, what has always set Jessie Ware apart from her peers is her excellent taste in collaborators. On Devotion, they included Julio Bashmore, Dave Okumu and Kid Harpoon, and for Tough Love they’re joined by new pals Dev Hynes, Miguel, James Ford and Ed Sheeran. Ironically, with its gospel choir and cloying strings, the over-sentimental, Sheeran co-write is by far the weakest thing here. Gloss over that and you’ve a supremely classy, 21st century soul record on your hands, filled with bittersweet melodies and all manner of quirky production touches.

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    Kindness - Otherness
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    Release Name
    Otherness
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Kindness
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    £9.90
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    Review

    Offering a warm, woozy take on vintage funk, house and R&B, World You Need A Change Of Mind was one of the most underrated albums of 2012, and remains one of our favourite debuts of the decade so far. Happily, it transpires that the follow-up is every bit as engaging, despite being a pretty different proposition sonically. Finding Adam Bainbridge dropping the tempo, digging even deeper into his record collection, and enlisting the talent of guest vocalists Robyn, Kelela and Tawiah, Otherness is a smokier, more soulful record than its predecessor. It’s almost as if it was custom-designed to be played post-club...

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    Hozier - Hozier
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    Release Name
    Hozier
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Hozier
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    £8.99
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    If you were tasked with seeking out potential pop stars, you’d be forgiven for passing over Andrew Hozier-Byrne entirely. As unconventional an A-lister as the Wicklow singer-songwriter might be, that didn’t stop him shooting to fame in 2013, cutting through swathes of faceless dance-pop with four minutes of politicised, gothic-blues. A year on, he’s out to prove there’s more to Hozier than ‘Take Me To Church’. It’s an unenviable task, but one that he pulls off with aplomb, drawing on soul, jazz and rhythm and blues, and adding rich, smoky vocals.

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    Caribou - Our Love
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    Release Name
    Our Love
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Caribou
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    £7.49
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    Last seen indulging his techno urges as Daphni, Dan Snaith now returns to the day job for the follow-up to 2010’s universally-adored Swim. Spoiler alert: Our Love is arguably even better. Demonstrating a technical prowess and imaginative scope that eludes most producers, Snaith glides effortlessly between styles and moods, leaving a trail of soulful slow jams and rainbow-hued dance cuts in his wake. Ranging from the sultry R&B of ‘Second Chance’ to the floor-friendly dopamine rush of ‘Can’t Do Without You’, Our Love is likely the most deeply-human electronic album you’ll hear this year.

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    SBTRKT - Wonder Where We Land (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    Wonder Where We Land
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by SBTRKT
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    £7.99
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    In an age where acts are lauded, forgotten and usurped at a staggering pace, spending too long out of the spotlight can seem a risky tactic. The question is, would you rather rush-release something half-baked to remain in the public consciousness, or take your time with the finer details and hope your audience waits for you? Commendably, Aaron Jerome opted for the more courageous approach, and it’s a gamble that’s paid off. Mixing up techno, house and soul with jazz, hip-hop and worldbeat, Wonder Where We Land is even more wide-reaching than its predecessor. It’s also jam-packed with fascinating collaborations, featuring old pals Sampha and Jessie Ware, and new friends Ezra Koenig, Rauri and A$AP Ferg.

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    Jamie T - Carry On The Grudge (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    Carry On The Grudge
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Jamie T
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    £8.99
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    Whatever happened to Jamie T? Who is Burial? Are we human or are we dancer? Three of the great, unsolved musical mysteries of our time, ladies and gentlemen. Or, at least, they were ‘til Mr Treays cleared up the former by re-emerging from his lengthy hibernation back in July. Turns out the past five years haven’t been much fun for Wimbledon’s finest, and the upshot is an album filled with feelings of anger, anxiety, doubt and utter dejection. Funny thing is, despite the downbeat subject matter, Carry On The Grudge actually proves an utter joy to listen to, filled with the sort of stealthy grooves and unshakeable hooks that burrow their way deep into the darkest regions of your brain. If only all comebacks were this satisfying.

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    alt-J - This Is All Yours (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    This Is All Yours
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by alt-J
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    £9.99
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    Really, the recent departure of lead-songwriter and “silent leader” Gwil Sainsbury should have spelled the end for Alt-J. Then again, when have they ever played by the rules? On the follow-up to their Mercury Prize-winning debut, the trio continue to laugh in the face of conventional song-structures and subject matter, offering up atypical arrangements and intricate rhythms, plus a song about self-love, an ode to ‘Aliens’, crisp packet-based sexual innuendo and a Miley Cyrus sample. The maddest thing about all of this is that, taken together, it works. Simply jam-packed with ideas, This Is All Yours is a fascinating a comeback.

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    Aphex Twin - Syro
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    Release Name
    Syro
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Aphex Twin
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    £7.99
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    Review

    Writ in the skies, buried in the deep web, the announcement of Richard D James’ return was more than clever marketing: it served as a metaphor for the career of an artist who has consistently reached further – and whose influence on contemporary music runs deeper – than any other electronic musician. Arriving over a decade on from Drukqs, Syro suggests James is still happiest operating without boundaries, offering up skewed, arrhythmic takes on techno, jungle and funk in the same breath as an ‘Avril 14th’-esque piano piece. Predictably, it makes for a thrillingly unpredictable listen.