Albums of the week

This week

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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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    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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    Syro
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Aphex Twin
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    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.

Previous weeks

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    Lia Ices - Ices
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    Release Name
    Ices
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Lia Ices
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    How many albums have you heard that were inspired by “Persian percussion, hip hop beats, lo-fi, hi-fi, Pakistani pop, Link Wray, Jason Pierce, gospel, dub.” Few, if any. On her third LP, Lia Ices takes that exact rag-tag rabble of reference points and – with a little help from producer Clams Casino – splices them together across a set of delightfully off-kilter electronic pop. Brimming with brilliantly-executed ideas, and showcasing a sonic range that extends from the beatific bounce of ‘Higher’ to the rolling groove of ‘Waves’, Ices should offer ample solace to any music lovers currently mourning the absence of Bat For Lashes and El Perro Del Mar.

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    The Script - No Sound Without Silence
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    Release Name
    No Sound Without Silence
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by The Script
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    “We’ve had time to contemplate about what we want to say to the industry... You can't have anything good to say if you don't think about it first.” So said Script frontman Danny O’Donoghue, when asked by the Belfast Telegraph to explain their fourth album’s philosophical title. Basically, every single note here has been carefully considered to bring the listener a true reflection of The Script in 2014. Funnily enough, it turns out The Script of 2014 aren’t too dissimilar to The Script of 2012 – or 2010 for that matter – which can only be good news for fans of anthemic pop-rock.

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    Banks - Goddess (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    Goddess
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Banks
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    Cast your mind back to the beginning of January, and you might remember us tipping this Californian singer-songwriter for big things in our Ones To Watch feature. Happily, here she is, nearly nine months on, vindicating our faith. Offering up emotionally-bruised, electronic R&B – topped with sultry vocals and production by SOHN, T.E.E.D. and Lil Silva – Goddess is as slick a debut as you’ll hear this year.

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    Interpol - El Pintor
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    El Pintor
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Interpol
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    Review

    Sonic reinvention is often prized as the Holy Grail, but it’s arguably as impressive when an artist can pioneer a sound distinctly their own and then steadfastly stick to it, without ever appearing unadventurous. Bar a few subtle refinements, Interpol have largely done just that, and five albums into their career they’re still transcending the Zeitgeist with their trademark, Bunnymen-meets-Joy Division murkiness. What sets this record apart from 2010’s self-titled LP, however, is the renewed passion with which they’re attacking songs. It’d be tempting to call El Pintor a return to form, except they never really lost it, did they?

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    Sinkane - Mean Love
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    Mean Love
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Sinkane
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    Being born in Sudan, raised in Ohio and based in Brooklyn, it’s perhaps inevitable that Ahmed Gallab’s distinct heritage bleeds into his musical compositions. What’s less predictable, however, is the skill with which he splices genres and switches-up styles to create a sound truly his own. Recorded in tandem to his duties as Musical Director on David Byrne’s William Onyeabor retrospective, third LP Mean Love is Gallab’s most diverse effort to date, incorporating everything from East and West African music, to funk, soul and country-rock. Do as we say and head straight for silky slow jam ‘Hold Tight’, which features some impressive Curtis Mayfield-esque falsetto.

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    Maroon 5 - V (Explicit)
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    Release Name
    V
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Maroon 5
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    They might be more than a decade into their career, but Maroon 5 don’t appear to have lost any of their hunger to make hits. For their aptly-titled fifth album, Adam Levine and co have recruited the hottest producers in the business (hello, Ryan “OneRepublic” Tedder, Paul “Adele” Epworth and Sia “Chandelier” Furler) and even convinced Gwen Stefani to return to the studio for closing track ‘My Heart Is Open’. Prepare yourself for a profusion of persistent hooks, and to subsequently hear most of them all over commercial radio in the coming months.

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    Annie Eve - Sunday '91
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    Release Name
    Sunday '91
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Annie Eve
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    If Daughter’s debut left an Elena Tonra-shaped hole in your heart, Annie Eve might well be the artist to fill it in their absence. Not only does the North Londoner share a producer with the trio, she’s also responsible for a similar strain of atmospheric indie-folk – that she’s dubbed “heavy melancholia” – characterised by minor keys, pensive lyrics, woozy diction and reverb. Comparisons aside, Sunday ’91 is engaging in its own right, and earmarks Eve as a singer-songwriter to watch. We have a feeling she’s only going to get better.

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    Royal Blood - Royal Blood
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    Royal Blood
    Release Date
    (2014)
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    by Royal Blood
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    As the only guitar group nominated for the BBC’s Sound of 2014 prize, Royal Blood found themselves unwittingly elected the saviours of British rock back in January. Ultimate respect to them, then, for not buckling under the pressure, and for delivering an album that vindicates the hype. Marrying muscular riffs and punishing percussion with equally mammoth melodies, the Brighton duo hit the sweet spot between rock credibility and commercial appeal on every single track. If you’ve even a passing interest in Led Zeppelin, QOTSA, Rage Against The Machine or Muse, you’ll find Royal Blood a relentlessly rewarding listen.