New releases and reissues: January 31
This week’s release schedule is absolutely jam-packed with amazing new pop albums and reissues. Here are just a few of Classic Pop’s favourites…
Nicholas Godin – Concrete And Glass
On his second solo album, Nicolas Godin escapes Air’s shadow while rarely drifting far from the hazy, lazy space they occupied. It’s a better strategy than on 2015’s Contrepoint, where, while looking to Bach, he ended up stuck in someone else’s past. Concrete And Glass instead allows glimpses of his own history while nonetheless looking forward. Turn Right Turn Left, with its vocoded vocals, explores a lush, retro-futuristic world comparable to cult Japanese producer Yoshinori Sunahara’s, and though the title track flaunts shimmering, Francis Lai flavours and the pillowy The Border nestles close to Moon Safari’s grandeur, both have their own character, too.
Like the album overall, those latter two were inspired by Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe, something evident in their elegantly simple synth melodies.
It’s Godin’s choice of guest vocalists, however, which elevates the album most. Kate NV situates Back To Your Heart alongside Roberta Flack’s late 70s work, while Time On My Hands combines soft rock and 80s blue-eyed soul tropes, and Cola Boyy adds a strange but riveting vocal to The Foundation’s squeaky synths. Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor, of course, remains typically yearning on Catch Yourself Falling, but Kadhja Bonet fills We Forgot Love’s desolation with warmth.
Cerrone – DNA
Though it’s soon pumping like a new Daft Punk and Giorgio Moroder collaboration, The Impact, the opener to veteran French producer Cerrone’s latest, will give you chills, and it won’t just be for its John Carpenter synths. Instead it’ll be for the sample of anthropologist Jane Goodall’s prescient warning about ecological destruction, and a similar dread permeates much of this collection. Nonetheless, you’ll recognise his influence on Air in Let Me Feel’s uplifting disco, and on M83 in the title track. At least we can dance while the planet burns.
Josef K – The Scottish Affair (Part Two)
Best known as Postcard Records’ nearly-men, Josef K also released two singles on Belgian label Les Disques Du Crépuscule and recorded their sole album The Only Fun In Town at a studio in Brussels. Days after finishing, they played a show in April 1981 at a Brussels arts centre.
Captured on The Scottish Affair (Part Two), the quartet tear into 10 songs in just half-an-hour. There’s no audience noise on the album, but you can imagine the crowd were left scared by the intensity of a band who seem unsure whether to scrap or screw.
Subtlety is out the window, future Orange Juice guitarist Malcolm Ross’ already taut playing made frenzied to keep up with Paul Haig’s histrionic vocals. Reaching a peak on the deranged Revelations and Chance Meeting, Haig abandons the debonair cool of Josef K’s studio work to get very sweaty and shrieky for the Belgians. You can still hear why the band were so influential, particularly on Franz Ferdinand, but the feeling persists throughout that they’re about to collapse at any moment. In the event, that’s pretty much what happens on the closing Final Request, as Ross’ guitar cuts loose in a squall of feedback.
Given their disparate talents and desires, it’s no wonder they only lasted for one album. Haig hasn’t played a full live show in years – here’s evidence of how good he was on stage.
Wyndham Wallace & John Earls