Review Round-Up: New Releases & Reissues – Issue 53
Collard – Unholy
While Collard isn’t the new Prince, Prince would have likely applauded him. The 24-year-old’s debut is laced with strikingly atmospheric soul and hip-hop, with the skeletal Greyhound full of high-pitched wails and a simple, dirty keyboard riff, and Ground Control, featuring rapper Kojey Radical, a shoo-in for fans of The Internet. They’re also recalled, alongside Eminem’s My Name Is, on Hell Song while Vultures is as naked as The xx. Warrior Cry, too, is so fragile it’s barely there, but be prepared for Blood Red’s climactic shock of guitars.
Band of Holy Joy – Neon Primitives
If 2017’s Funambulist We Love You found Johnny Brown wrestling with the Brexit referendum on Leave Or Remain, his latest finds him livid at what’s happened since. Lost In The Night sounds like The Pop Group playing early Gallon Drunk, while his Geordie accent packs a punch on the suitably titled The Devil Has A Hold On The Land. Waltz-time closer We Are Sailing To The Island Of Light offers more optimism in its praise for “anti-fascists” and “cosmopolitan scum”, while Vincent Gallo’s So Sad gets a lilting, memorable workover.
Hatchie – Keepsake
Hatchie, dear: The Cranberries and Cocteau Twins called and wondered if they could get their guitars back. Don’t worry: they’re happy with how things turned out. Her Own Heart jangles and glitters beneath your celestial voice, and Kiss The Stars does pretty much what it claims, admittedly emerging rarely from the shadows. Obsessed, too, suggests you’re a fan of Dolores O’Riordan’s melodies, and no one’s denying you know what made New Order’s Republic one of their more underrated releases. PS. Thanks for memories of Curve on Unwanted Guest.
Sinkane – Dépaysé
A fleshly representation of multiculturalism, Sudanese-American Ahmed Gallab and his racially diverse band have many reasons to rage in the Trump era. Fortunately, they employ their energies positively on this celebration of a “multicoloured world”. Everybody merges North African rhythms with American soul, and the title track is, despite its unruffled verses, especially irrepressible, Gallab “singing for the day we realise that we all relate”. Mango, meanwhile, combines reggae with love for Nigerian synth wizard William Onyeabor.
Peter Perrett – Humanworld
We waited 20 years for Only One Peter Perrett’s last album, but, perhaps invigorated by its positive response, he returns two years on, opening with I Want Your Dreams’ repressed tension, while Once Is Enough sees him drawling over chugging guitars about “a friend who’s crazy as fuck”. Hints of his disciples The Libertines abound, but much of Humanworld sounds appealingly like a cheerful conference between The Go-Betweens and The Velvet Underground – and not just for his judicious use of violin on The Power Is In You.
Lust For Youth – Lust For Youth
Now a duo, Copenhagen’s Lust For Youth prove they’re still adept proponents of teenage angst repackaged for the 80s generation. Eurobeat enthusiasts, they occupy a gloomy midpoint between early Depeche Mode and New Order, most notably on Great Concerns, where chiming keyboards and a Hooky bassline are cast in a monochrome light, and the similarly disposed New Balance Point, when Hannes Norrvide’s gobby vocal dominates. Best is Insignificant, whose increasingly urgent outro could be a shoegazing New Order.
Kishi Bashi – Omoiyari
Imagine Grizzly Bear producing Simon & Garfunkel covering Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talking: you’ll be close to the delicate joys of Kishi Bashi’s suitably sweetly titled Penny Rabbit And Summer Bear. He sprinkles similar magic among Marigolds’ pizzicato strings, while A Song For You almost out-harmonises Fleet Foxes and A Meal For Leaves provides a spectral slice of dusty Americana. There’s even a Violin Tsunami serving arpeggios for a Michael Nyman soundtrack, while F Delano’s as satisfying as coconut ice cream.
Richard Hawley – Further
Richard Hawley’s eighth roars out of the blocks growling like Mark Lanegan and waving a guitar like Josh Homme on Off My Mind, while strings can’t mask Alone’s pounding drums, nor Is There A Pill’s elegant waltz its almost symphonic guitar chords. But fear not, crooner fans: My Little Treasures is as sentimental as its name, and Not Lonely as reassuringly comforting as Hawley’s always been. And while Time Is reprises Screaming Trees’ stormy climate, adding howling harmonica, the heartfelt Emilina Says and suave Doors restore calm once more.
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La Toya Jackson – My Special Love
It’s safe to surmise that history will not judge La Toya as the most talented of the Jackson siblings. Her second album, first released in 1981 and now reissued on CD, was a limp exercise in disco-pop over which La Toya trilled like a boiling kettle, her voice a reedy quaver. Her fam half-heartedly rallied around: Randy duetted on Giving You Up and Janet pitched in on Camp Kuchi Kaiai, but it wasn’t enough to salvage an utter non-event. Six bonus songs, basically shorter 7″ single versions of the album tracks, don’t feel like much of a bonus at all.
Mantronix – Mantronix: The Album
Kurtis Mantronik was a hip-hop visionary, determined from the get-go to lift rap both out of the ghetto and away from its lazy early dependence on (usually James Brown) samples. When his organic production and turntable work met the slick flow of MC Tee in 1985, they crafted a debut so ahead of its time that it found a way forward for hip-hop. The joy of this 180g vinyl reissue is that Needle To The Groove and UK Top 40 hit Bassline sound both quaintly dated and defiantly futuristic, as fresh as they did back in the day.
Wyndham Wallace & Ian Gittins