New releases and reissues: February 7
Our round-up of some new releases and reissues that you may have missed…
Bombay Bicycle Club – Everything Else Has Gone Wrong
Given the gaudy, escapist sounds dominating both pop and indie worlds, it’s refreshing to encounter Crouch End’s Bombay Bicycle Club, back after a six-year break. Admittedly, you could call their approach conservative: producer John Congleton (St Vincent, Wild Beasts) appears to have smoothed every rough edge with a dry production that at times recalls The Strokes, so one can imagine the taut, surging Is It Real, with its krautrock bassline, buzzing with Stereolab’s energy when instead it’s carefully restrained. Good Day, too, is as bloodless as its sentiment, meaning that, though its soft harmonies and gentle handclaps are strangely seductive, one wishes its tremulous guitars had borrowed from Cocteau Twins even more.
Elsewhere, however, I Can Hardly Speak is like a Home Counties Arcade Fire, and Get Up employs a Philip Glass-like woodwind riff and a growing wall of guitars to considerable – albeit hardly rousing – effect. I Worry Bout You, furthermore, adds helpful colour, and Racing Stripes concludes with amiable vulnerability.
They don’t make everything else wrong, per se, but there’s plenty here that’s right.
Alice Boman – Dream On
Almost seven years after Alice Boman sent her demos to a studio where she wanted to re-record them, before they were then forwarded to a label who immediately insisted on releasing them, the Malmö resident finally releases her debut album, an all-too-brief collection of 10 songs that sound like the Twin Peaks soundtrack had it been recorded in the Swedish mountains.
Listen to the sustained keyboards, jazzy percussion and her feathery voice on Hold On and it will take you straight back to Julee Cruise’s Falling, and The More I Cry will transport you directly to a booth in the Roadhouse. Her voice is even more effectively showcased on Heart On Fire, which layers it over acoustic bass, while Everybody Hurts – with its crystalline guitars and the chorus’ celestial Liz Fraser-esque vocals – has nothing to do with the R.E.M. song and everything to do with the kind of magic Cocteau Twins conjured up back in the day. Wish We Had More Time, moreover, is quite simply heartbreak distilled, and by the time you get to the album’s end, the fragile Mississippi, whose acoustic guitar couldn’t be strummed more quietly, you’ll be wondering how this was produced by Patrik Berger, who’s also worked with Robyn and Charli XCX. Don’t wait another seven years, Ms Boman, please.
The Durutti Column – Fidelity
Having dived into more familiar analogue territory for 1994’s Sex And Death, Factory Records guitar virtuoso Vini Reilly transferred to the label’s Belgian offshoot in 1996 for a slight return to the style of 1990’s Obey The Time, which had found him exploring his native Manchester’s contemporary electronic dance culture.
This time, Reilly was subtler, resulting in a lengthy collection that’s aged considerably better. There are signs of the time, of course: shuddering vocal samples, alongside operatic melodies, decorate Abstract Of Expression and his own voice, draped in reverb, is underpinned by a swaggering baggy beat on Remember Me. Sanko, meanwhile, dispensed with Reilly’s trademark guitars in favour of skittering percussion and dreamy sequencers, while Ellie Rudge’s delicate vocals and those sequencers should have ensured Future Perfect’s reputation as a precursor to the early 00s chillout era. Rudge also softens the impact of the title track’s battered drums, but the trumpet-embellished G&T displayed Reilly’s Spanish influences more prominently. Storm For Steve could have passed for his 1980s work and Guitar For Mother was worthy of 1987’s masterful The Guitar And Other Machines. Overlooked at the time, Fidelity is hugely worthy of reinvestigation.