May 4, 2008

Mini reviews: Oh England, oh England

Four newish Britpop records worth the pixels...

Delays Everything's The Rush

Delays third album opens with a corker: Girl's On Fire, which has one of the grandest arrangements of their short career. It takes a minute of layered codas to actually end. The solid first singles, Love Made Visible and the pleasingly titled Hooray, are equally intense and melodic. But it's a little too much. Each song has a kitchen sink approach: power guitars, incessant orchestrals and the relative burying of Greg Gilbert's voice (Delay's calling card) in the mix. It all reaches an amusing irony on the pretty Silence, built around this hook: "If I could have said much more with silence..." Regardless, Delays remain commited to melodic BritPop with no Oasis-like phoney push for street cred. Hear samples Monday.

Adele 19

By the first week of January, Adele's name was a pop buzzword. Now that the clamour has quieted, I can say this British pop soul singer is still worth your money and your attention. Hometown Glory remains one of the songs of 2008, made better here by a moving piano intro. Daydreamer highlights Adele's observational skills, which are pretty spot on for a 19 year old. She's watching a young couple in a bar, the young man "feeling up his girl like he's never felt her figure before." Best For Last has a wonderful syncopated chorus, while Tired is the most contemporary track on the album, made sublime by a sky-lifting vamp inserted into the middle and end of the song. Her Dylan cover, To Make You Feel My Love, is the stuff of weddings and superior to Billy Joel's version. Adele has a gorgeous voice and I think experience will bring out more nuance in her singing. Bring on 21. Hear samples now.

Neon Neon Stainless Style

Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals must have ADHD. He careens around Wales pubrocking it, then doing a forgotten solo record and now this homage to the 80's music he (and I) grew up with. I Told Her On Alderaan, built on Numan-esque synths and a brilliant bass line, captures the sound of the 80's with uttter sincerity. It could easily have been recorded in 1985, but still manages to sound current. The vocals are perfection and it's one of my favorite songs of the year. If he could have only applied that diligence to the full CD, which is split between gems (Dream Cars, Steel Your Girl, Belfast) and bollocks (Yo Majesty, Trick For Treat). Hear samples now.

The Last Shadow Puppets The Age Of Understatement

Wow. Where did this come from? Alex Turner (Artic Monkeys auteur) and Miles Kane have gone all swooning Scott Walker-y. The result is one of the most consistent records this year, an album that sounds like a compilation of 60's James Bond themes. Standouts include the title track, the galloping Standing Next To Me, atmospheric Meeting Place and Calm Like You. Lyrically and musically stunning, laden with melody and great vocals, this is a must-own. Alex Turner is in a seriously imperial phase: savor it while it lasts. Hear samples now.

All samples via the uber cool and well-priced


D'luv said...

Good ol' Adele. It didn't really happen for her, did it, luv?

She's touring around with your pal Sam Sparro supporting, you know.... I have a feeling that bill might get flipped soon, if not already.

xolondon said...

She has an American tour coming soon. Small clubs I think. Sam needs to release a second single to see how he can build on B&G - that remains to be seen!

Paul said...

I think Adele will be a pretty solid albums artist here, plus she is raking in the cash from her songs being in tv shows. She is more prolific on tv than Moby!

I am loving the delays. Am having a britpop day myself later....

ww_adh said...

Thanks for the heads up on Neon Neon. I just got the album and I quite like it.