If I were to point out one aspect that The Horrors seem to excel at, it would have to be reinvention. When their debut Strange House emerged onto the scene, the Gothic sound of it that reeked of Robert Smith’s aura was laughed off by many music fans at the time however these same people immediately regretted doing so once their follow up Primary Colours appeared and was universally lauded by critics and fans alike, appearing with the bands brand new sound that lead many to compare their transformation to the likes of Primal Scream. The Essex boys have placed the technicolour psychedelia sound they’ve been perfecting from previous releases onto the operating table and have meddled with it for their fourth record Luminous and you’d be wrong to say they haven’t done so with some brilliant results.
Case in point? Take the track I See You, the first single the band showcased on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show, which radiates a sparkling disco sound that is dangerously close of echoing Simple Minds work. It would be a sure fire single if it weren’t for the track’s long run time but with an energetic 3 minute outro, no one’s complaining. In And Out Sight is another stand out track which features an intro Kavinsky wouldn’t mind adopting and has the pleasure of preceding Jealous Sun which features a strong bass throughout and showcases the band’s ability to shift from different tones throughout this record. Kudos to First Day Of Spring which, although may sound like a lost track from Skying, still fits in incredibly well into the album and sounds fantastic as well as emphasizing frontman Faris Badwan’s voice which has enough uniqueness to allow it to stand out.
If there’s any complaints that can be made it’s that some tracks can sound slightly similar though the same musical palette that the album draws its tracks from helps to create a nice flow which also highlights when the band are entering dark territory with it though this solely comes down to the listener’s perspective. In addition to this, Luminous gives off the vibe that the band are playing it a bit too safe. Even though there has been some slight changes to the sound, there haven’t been enough radical ones to help it feel entirely fresh.
When The Horrors aim for a sound, they more or less do well with it. Luminous, like Skying, shows that the band are capable of doing well with this psychedelic sound. The record’s 51 minute long length has some indie gems that’ll no doubt please fans of the band as well as new listeners. Let’s just hope next time the boys shake up their sound a bit more rather than let it settle.
The Black Keys aren’t exactly new to the music scene. In their career that has spanned 13 years, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney have released 7 albums that have gathered praise from critics and rock fans alike, most notably their 2010 release Brothers which brought the duo a lot of commercial success as they were now a grammy winning household name. Have the Ohio boys managed to continue their golden run with Turn Blue or has the success finally came to a halt?
One thing that you can rely the Black Keys delivering the goods on is production values and Turn Blue isn’t any different. Co-Producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton returns to lend a helping hand after assisting on El Camino and Brothers and his involvement really shows, managing to use the band’s blues rock canvas and fine stroking every detail that adds to the artistic brilliance of this album. This isn’t just a one man effort like it may have been back when the band started off as Auerbach and Carney are well regarded producers themselves with Dan assisting the likes of Lana Del Rey while Patrick has helped with lower profile bands like The Sheepdogs. You’d expect too many producers meddling with the sound to spoilt it but it does just the opposite.
After 8 albums, you’d expect Auerbach and Carney’s quality song-writing and talent to slip somewhat but you’d be wrong. The title track manages to highlight Auerbach’s falsetto voice’s finesse which prowls after Carney’s pitter patter drums which help to create a song that’s large in scale and one that needs to be listened through earphones, as advised by the duo, to really experience every fine detail that it captivates. Fever, the record’s first single, has an almost cyborg sounding background noise at the start and the rest of the track is just as interesting, showing the duo’s funkiness and an organ melody that once you’ve heard, you’ll fall in love with instantly. In Time features some ghostly vocals that are weirdly seductive sounding at the same time, as if Patrick Swayze somehow made his way onto the track. One of Turn Blue’s highlights has to be opening track Weight Of Love that has an intro so reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Speak To Me/ Breathe that you can see the 70’s influence escaping from your earphones. At 7 minutes long, it ‘s dangerously close to overstaying it’s welcome but its absence would definitely be one that would be missed.
Other critics, I’m looking at you NME, might complain that Turn Blue isn’t like the band’s previous outings but when an alteration of the formula sounds as funky, psychedelic and overall amazing as Black Key’s latest record is, is that really a bad thing? The duo’s golden run is still continuing and at this rate, it’ll be one to make Dorothy herself jealous.
It’s odd to think that five years ago “I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose” was released and made music lovers aware of four boys who were not just an alternative to the Arctic Monkeys who dominated the indie rock scene at the time but were an act that had a lot of potential to make it big in the genre. With the help of “So Long, See You Tomorrow”, the band have not only utilised their potential but have made the transition from polite and shy newcomers to a band that radiating with confidence and stylish flare.
Bombay Bicycle Club are not a band that sticks to the one sound (their back catalogue consists of blues, folk and pop) so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this album isn’t an exception to this trend. Home By Now is an RnB infused track with a layer of extravagant vocals from lead singer Jack Steadman, who’s travels abroad have been a factor in helping the band to find a sound that is worth sticking to, and provides a stellar vocal performance throughout this record.If you think that RnB is an odd sound for BBC to be sampling then just wait around for a few tracks and you’ll come across Feel, a track that’s intro wouldn’t go amiss in a Bollywood film, that sounds as strange as it does brilliant.
Despite all the new tweaks to their ever changing music formula, BBC have more success with tracks that have a subtle pop sound to them. Take for example the first single off the album Carry Me that features a massive sing-along chorus that will be sure to make an appearance during the band’s upcoming tour and any upcoming that the band, hopefully, will be attending. Luna also shares these same traits, propelled by female vocals and a relaxed beat that help to make it one of the best tracks on offer.
Whilst we all wait apprehensively for Steadman to don a quiff and leather jacket (we’ve all seen what confidence can do to a frontman), fans of the band can relax knowing that the boys have cemented themselves as one of the best in the current wave of British indie bands.