A perfectly formed four for you this time round. The reviews that is, rather than albums, which were a mixed bag. I was commended for the sulky nature of the Edible Woman review, but if you listen to it, you’ll know what I mean.
THE CORAL – ‘Butterfly House’ (DELTASONIC)
There was some concern that the departure of Bill-Ryder Jones might mark the decline of The Coral. The good news is you wouldn’t know he’d left. Actually, that’s sort of the bad news too. A perennial singles band, capable of euphoric highs but also rather a lot of chugging jangle when called upon to fill an entire album, there’s little here to suggest a radical rethink. Album opener ‘More Than A Lover’ is the power-pop insulin of old while the title track offers a more malevolent, wonky, psychedelic backdrop. It’s all very ‘nice’ but only sporadically truly vital. 6/10
It is good, honestly. I’m quite a fan of the band and, were I judging it solely against their back catalogue I might have stretched to seven or possibly eight, but in the context of all of the records released this year, it just doesn’t stand head and shoulders above the rest. But, if you like them already, get it, undoubtedly.
MAX RICHTER – ‘infra’ (130701 RECORDS)
Instrumental pieces are often good, rarely great. The abstract musical vocabulary, conveying feelings without lyrical assistance, requires a delicate touch and ambitious execution. Max Richter does not make background music. All four of his previous albums command your attention and ‘infra’, expanded from the soundtrack to a 2008 ballet of the same name, is no different. At times agitated and claustrophobic, at others mournful and emotive, this is an album which needs time to breathe. While the pace hardly fluctuates wildly, the constant twists and turns create an emotional collage where you’re left contemplative and euphoric in equal measure. 8/10
As you’ve probably gathered from the recent published interview piece, I’m rather fond of Max Richter’s music and this latest offering really is splendid. Try it with headphones and a slightly greying summer evening. You’ll fall in love.
EDIBLE WOMAN – ‘Everywhere At Once’ (SLEEPING STAR RECORDS)
Ever wondered what it would sound like to actually listen to a migraine? Well, wonder no more, my friends. ‘Everywhere At Once’ is so completely half-arsed it’s a fair old feat of endurance just getting to the end of it. Littered with schizophrenic left turns that are nowhere near as clever as you suspect they’re meant to be, this is an album that skulks along with so little ambition that you wonder if using the skip button on it might actually cause it to self-harm. An interminable swathe of anti-melodic, no wave avant-punk with little more than tired outré posturing. 2/10
Also known as the ‘got asked to review it, didn’t like it’ album. Occasionally, something comes my way which I really struggle to find anything to like about at all. This is pretty much one of those records. I make no apologies for this – it’s my opinion. I’m sure many people love it. Just as I love ‘The Good, The Bad & The Queen’ and many people slag it off. Plus, I quite like the self-harm line.
DONNA REGINA – ‘The Decline Of Female Happiness’ (KARAOKE KALK)
It’s no great surprise to learn that Donna Regina, a duo of some twenty years vintage, are popular in Japan, sounding as they do like delicate quirk-pop masters Pizzicato Five on Ritalin. A sweetly melancholic, analogue warmth pervades this record with Nico-like hushed vocals atop floating acoustic guitar and laconic beats. “So many kinds of loneliness, I’m learning about them all on a lost and lonely Sunday” sings Regina Janssen on one of the album’s standout tracks, ‘Lost Sunday’, and yet the lightness of touch ensures that in these hands even sadness doesn’t sound that sad. 7/10
Also known as the ‘got asked to review, really liked it’ album. Really rather good this and one I keep meaning to go back to. Only received it as a download though, so somewhat disinclined. Anyone want to send me a physical copy? Anyway, self interest aside, genuinely worth a listen this. Took me by surprise.