Review roundup

14 Aug

James Blake ‘The Colour in Anything’

James Blake, our preeminent moping, melancholy man, is back for his first album in four years. Ironically titled ‘The Colour in Anything’, it’s a bland and uncolourful record that follows on from the equally drab and overrated ‘Retrograde’, Blakes second album. His debut album was an influential modern day classic that inspired a generation to embrace minimalist r&b. What exactly he achieved there that he mostly fails to achieve here isn’t entirely clear but it has a lot to do with emotional poignancy, direct vulnerability and clarity of thought. ‘James Blake’ was precise where ‘Colour in Anything’ is muddy. ‘James Blake’ took 37 Mins to say more than ‘Colour in Anying says in 76 Mins. Pretty highlights ‘Points’ And ‘Forever’ suggest there is a great album lurking in here but you have to wade through at least half of the album to find it. If you coax yourself in to a particular mood and have the patience and alertness to listen to seventeen similar James Blake songs then ‘The Colour in Anything’ might just do something for you, otherwise it’s a daunting proposition.

5.5/10

Cats Eyes ‘Treasure House’

Cat’s Eye are the orchestral indie pop project of Rachel Zaffira and Horrors frontman Fraris Baldwin. Their accomplished, self-titled 2011 album proved that this is so much more than just Faris’ “other band”. ‘Treasure House’, the long overdue follow up, doesn’t deviate from the debut lyrically or stylistically. It’s a moody, lush, romantic collection of short pop songs about friendship, falling in love and falling apart. Zaffira’s an opera singer by trade but she holds back, usually crooning in a sensual whispery voice that compliments the feather light arrangements. When the lyrical tone becomes darker, the music follows suit and results in the album’s weakest cuts. Cats Eyes are much more successful when they subtly rework classic templates. The 60s girl group throwback ‘Be Careful Where You Park Your Car’ is blissful fun and the bitter-sweet double punch of ‘Drag’ and ‘Chameleon Queen’ is heartbreaking. So much more convincing than anything The Horrors have done in years.

7.5/10

Pup – The Dream is Over

Pup are a band for that moment when the anger, desperation and resentment bubbles up so high that you’ve got no option but to release it with a scream. The record’s title comes from a conversation lead singer Stefan Babcock had with his doctor. His vocal chords were shredded after months on the road. ‘The dream is over’, the doctor told him. In actual fact, it was only just beginning. The album is crammed with despairing lyrics, sung by a man ravaged with guilt and self doubt. But actually, the band’s ideology is fuelled by a kind of perverse optimism. They name their songs things like ‘if this tour doesn’t kill you, I will’, ‘doubts’ and ‘my life is over’ but their performances act as catharsis. Through group chants, power chords and belly shouts – this is menacing music as a form of preservation. And it’s thrilling.

8.5/10

 

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