Albums of the week

This week

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    Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
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    Release Name
    The Voyager
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Jenny Lewis
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    £4.99
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    Review

    Last time we heard from Jenny Lewis she was making joyous, rock ‘n’ roll with her sweetheart Johnathan Rice. Ironically, it’s since transpired that the period post ‘I’m Having Fun Now’ was pretty much anything but fun. Forced to deal with the death of a family member and the break-up of her band, Rilo Kiley, Lewis went into meltdown mode, and retreated into songwriting simply to find solace. This third solo album rounds up the results. Produced by Ryan Adams – with assistance from Beck, Rice and Lewis herself – The Voyager actually makes for unexpectedly uplifting listening, finding the singer-songwriter banishing any residual gloom with lashings of lyrical wit and beatific melodies that draw on sweeping Americana, classic rock and Fleetwood Mac-style guitar-pop.

Previous weeks

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    La Roux - Trouble In Paradise
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    Release Name
    Trouble In Paradise
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by La Roux
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    £7.99
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    What got you talking in 2009? It might well have been the dance routines in ‘Glee’, or the vivid colours of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’, or perhaps the impending threat of a swine flu pandemic. Whatever you were discussing in the pub, it’s more than likely that La Roux’s eponymous debut was blaring out in the background. Five years, two World Cups and one pretty major line-up change later, Elly Jackson’s back with the long-overdue follow-up. Christened “Trouble In Paradise”, its title serves as both a reference to the departure of silent partner Ben Langmaid, and as an indication of the exotic sounds within. Drawing on dancehall, reggae and yacht-rock, this is 80s synth-pop with a totally tropical taste and – as such – is perfectly placed to soundtrack the summer of 2014.

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    Jungle - Jungle
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    Release Name
    Jungle
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Jungle
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    £7.99
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    Pro tip for young bands: to stand out, work just as hard on your visual identity as you do your songs. For proof the approach works, look no further than this enigmatic, West London collective: by complementing their colourful grooves with immaculately-choreographed promos – depicting b-boying 6-year-olds, rollerblading duos and street dance ensembles – Jungle have become one of the most written-about acts of recent years. Judging by the infectious mix of futuristic funk and soul on their debut, sustaining everyone’s attention shouldn’t prove problematic either.

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    Slow Club - Complete Surrender
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    Release Name
    Complete Surrender
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Slow Club
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    £5.99
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    As if subscribing to the theory that “slow and steady wins the race”, Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor have spent the best part of a decade incrementally improving as songwriters, and gradually growing their fan base. It would now appear the duo have finally lost patience, because their third LP is the aural equivalent of a sprint finish. Gone are the ramshackle indie-folk ditties of Yeah So and Paradise, and in their place are shiny, 60s-inspired pop hits that truly showcase the power and beauty of Taylor’s voice. Ranging from the Motown-endebted ‘Suffering Me, Suffering You’ to the Bond theme-shimmy of the title track – via the Bacharach-esque swing of ‘Not Mine To Love’ – Complete Surrender proves an utterly irresistible listen.

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    Sia - 1000 Forms Of Fear
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    Release Name
    1000 Forms Of Fear
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Sia
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    £7.99
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    Brought to the brink of suicide by bipolar disorder and alcoholism, Sia Furler shelved her solo career in 2010 and shifted her focus to penning material for others. Four years on, she’s one of the most in-demand songwriters in the industry, working regularly with Beyoncé, Britney and Katy Perry, and responsible for number ones for Rihanna and David Guetta. Incredibly, this sixth solo album suggests she’s actually been sneakily keeping all the best material back for herself. From the Diplo-assisted bounce of ‘Elastic Heart’ to the Strokes-y pop-rock of ‘Hostage’ – via the vaulting, emotional rollercoaster that is ‘Chandelier’ – every single track here has "SMASH HIT" scrawled all over it. This might well be the best pop album of 2014.

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    Manic Street Preachers - Futurology
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    Release Name
    Futurology
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Manic Street Preachers
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    £7.99
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    When the Manics shared 2013’s Rewind The Film, they did so with the caveat that they’d saved their “dark and nasty” material for follow-up Futurology, an album they viewed as “The Holy Bible’s bedfellow”. To temper your expectations somewhat, we’ll warn you now that there’s nothing as abrasive or incendiary here as ‘4st 7lb’ or ‘Archives Of Pain’; no, the trio have chosen to disseminate their vitriol via more stealthy means. Delivering glowering disco on ‘Let’s Go To War’, snarling glam-rock on ‘Europa Geht Durch Mich’, and clinical Motorik pop on ‘The Next Jet To Leave Moscow’, Futurology strikes a skilful balance between malevolence and melody. Clever boys...

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    Ed Sheeran - x
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    Release Name
    x
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Ed Sheeran
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    £8.99
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    First we had +, now we have x (meaning multiply); give it a couple more years and this plucky young troubadour might even have mastered his long division. To be fair to the lad, the only time he probably needs use maths nowadays is to count the millions of units he’s shifting, and with his Timberlake-tastic comeback ‘Sing’ smashing straight in at the top of the carts, it’s a statistical trend that’s only set to continue. Offering a radio-friendly mix of R&B, rock and hip hop – plus collaborations with super-producers Pharrell Williams, Rick Rubin and Benny Blanco – Sheeran’s second studio album will be one of the year’s biggest sellers, just you mark our words.

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    Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence (Explicit Content – Parental Advisory) (Deluxe)
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    Release Name
    Ultraviolence (Explicit Content – Parental Advisory)
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Lana Del Rey
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    £9.99
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    Despite undeniable glimmers of brilliance, Lana Del Rey’s genre-hopping debut often painted a picture of an artist trying too hard to be everything to everyone, all at once. Happily, quite the contrary is true of Ultraviolence. Swapping hip hop beats and a team of musical advisors for a seven-piece band, a string section and producer Dan Auerbach, Del Rey picks the perfect musical palette for her intoxicating tales of doomed romance, and succeeds in enveloping the listener in her dimly-lit world throughout.

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    Linkin Park - The Hunting Party
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    Release Name
    The Hunting Party
    Release Date
    (2014)
    Artist Name
    by Linkin Park
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    £10.49
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    Putting paid to the presumption that musicians generally mellow with age, Linkin Park are back with one of their most aggressive records to date. As Mike Shinoda explained to Rolling Stone Magazine in April, The Hunting Party was inspired by reconnecting with the work of Refused, At The Drive-In and Gorilla Biscuits, and created with a shared goal to “weed out the soft, emo approach” and “f*ck [listeners] up.” Expect heavy riffs, piledriving percussion and cameos from Rakim and System Of A Down’s Daron Malakian.