Each month we bring you a handy round-up of the most exciting new releases.
This month sees long-awaited albums from Metronomy, Shura, Blood Orange, Martha and Bat For Lashes as well as a local treat from Giant Swan.
Metronomy – Summer 08
20th July, Because Music | Buy
Metronomy have always been strikingly consistent in their melodic pop output, with Summer 08 marking a milestone fifth LP. The curious title itself references Joe Mount’s reflection back on the time of their breakthrough, a factor which brings a far more poised and thoughtful sound.
This is perhaps the reason why, on this release, it feels like they’re reaching for something decidedly more abstract. Unlike the anthems on Love Letters, which left you wanting to grab the sun cream and head outside, we’re offered here more headspace amidst offbeat and lulling instrumentation. So, is this a good thing? Well, it certainly shows us a development we haven’t seen on previous jumps; this is a band striving to maintain artistic integrity, with tracks like ‘Night Owl’ and ‘Beat’ showing they’ve done it. The beauty of this release is that, ironically, Metronomy will never be left behind in the days of their emergence. They’re far too intelligent for that. Rhys Buchanan
Bat For Lashes – The Bride
1st July, Parlophone | Buy
Natasha Khan has a penchant for clear, consistent storytelling within her songwriting and The Bride, the fourth album under her moniker Bat for Lashes, is no exception. Each song feels crafted and deliberately placed and, while this may limit the scope for a ‘standout single’, the album is a strong, immersive experience that demands attention.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t highlights. ‘Joe’s Dream (Don’t say Goodbye)’ and ‘Never Forgive The Angels’ are patient, atmospheric and haunting songs that are the epitome of everything good on The Bride. If you liked Bat for Lashes’ previous work then you won’t be disappointed. And if you haven’t heard her yet, you will be amazed. Thomas O’Neill
Shura – Nothing’s Real
8th July, Polydor | Buy
Since the release of debut (smash hit) single ‘Touch’, it’s all kicked off for rising artist Shura. Proper radio plays, support slots and collaborations galore have cemented her beautiful pop melodies as one of 2016’s most adored sounds; and now we’re gifted with long-awaited summer album Nothing’s Real.
Likely far beyond any pop album out there, it brings together a rich blend of influences; from the 80s-style space-disco production, dreamy synths and drenching guitar rhythms to the lush R&B waves that make you swoon in seconds. A well-balanced, banger-heavy and incredibly honest full-length. Mustafa Mirreh
Bright Light Bright Light – Choreography
1st July, Self Raising Records | Buy
Choreography opens with lead track ‘All in the Name’, starting as it means to go on with infectiously upbeat and catchy melodies. There are several collaborations on the record, with none other than Sir Elton John, quite specifically all members of the Scissor Sisters and obscurely, Alan Cumming.
The record is a masterclass in successful collabs, with the guests adding to the work, rather than taking over. It’s all resounding proof that independent artists should trust their instincts and can succeed in going it alone. If you mixed Pet Shop Boys with a touch of Wham!, under the guidance of Elton, I imagine the outcome would sound just a little bit like Choreography. Kessie Bartlett
Happy Accidents – You Might Be Right
1st July, Alcopop! Records | Buy
You Might Be Right is a large, crunchy snack. It’s comparable to other storytelling indie rockers like Courtney Barnett, yet the traditional, poetic verse structure and straight-stepping melodies are something you may even liken to Frank Turner. Shamelessly clumsy but stylishly so, dynamics help keep a hold of your ears.
The instruments themselves can be incredibly bare-sounding but, while at times the chewing loses its flavour, there’s a likeable honesty in its distorted simplicity. The lyrics are understated gold with skilfully-spun phrases creating poignant and evocative images. Though the immediate sound association is one of a high school feel-good movie soundtrack, there are hidden treasures if you can shake it. Stuart Tidy
Blood Orange – Freetown Sound
1st July, Domino Records | Buy
Composer, in-demand writer and producer for the likes of Solange Knowles and Carly Rae-Jepson, and solo artist – Devonté Hynes is a busy man. This third record as Blood Orange stretches his talents further, ushering in funky flourishes more spirited than its predecessors. ‘EVP’ is the best example, where Hynes’ soft vocals compliment the warped bassline and groove-driven synths, while 80s-style R&B numbers ‘Best to You’ and ‘Hands Up’ are tinged with both melancholy and passion.
Dripping with emotion, layered with political undertones and filled with shapeshifting hooks, Freetown Sound is Dev Hynes smartly ruminating on issues of race and sexuality, juggling samples and influences all the while. Social comment has got down to the disco. Oliver Evans
Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart
8th July, Fortuna Pop! | Buy
Martha’s second LP Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart presents itself as a calculated, refined follow-up to their excellent debut Courting Strong, while retaining every ounce of the socially conscious yet often self-deprecating lyricism that has taken them to the head of the UK DIY scene.
Blisters… tackles the troubles of trying to stay punk into adulthood, set over consistently catchy punk-pop riffing. Highlight ‘Icecream and Sunscreen’ travels from sombre to anthemic in moments, while ‘Do Nothing’ is the darkest this band have ever sounded. This LP adds more layers to the repertoire of one of the country’s best-loved set of punks and is a more than worthy counterpart to their debut. Will Richards
Giant Swan – Earn
14th June, FUCKPUNK | Buy
Taming experimental noise duo Giant Swan’s improvised and chaotic live set is no easy task. Their previous 12” release aimed to do just that, but new record Earn takes a very different approach. Title track ‘Earn’s driving beat guides you through the looping noises and vocal samples the duo create, but less densely than on previous releases.
B-side ‘Corridor’ is even sparser. A lone, droning bass whirs throughout and, combined with clattering and distorted drums, the track feels lifted straight out of a horror movie soundtrack. It’s a different step for Giant Swan, but one that creates a distinct recorded sound to complement their live one. Christian Northwood
The Julie Ruin – Hit Reset
8th July, Hardly Art | Buy
Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre fame is back with her current project’s sophomore album, Hit Reset. Her band, The Julie Ruin, named for her 1998 lo-fi solo record, deliver an abrasive brace of rock nuggets, some markedly more affecting than others. They invoke the spirit of punk and, yes, the unavoidable but welcome riot grrrl attitude is present straight off in singles like ‘I Decide’.
The production maintains the lo-fi aesthetic with sparse guitars and tin pot drums. It may be too harsh for delicate ears, but that’s the point of Hit Reset – give it a spin, get back to basics and let the words do the talking. J-P Storrow
Floating Points – Kuiper
20th July, Pluto | Buy
Sam Shepherd, aka Floating Points, honed his craft over years of DJing in every corner of the country with his contemporaries Four Tet, Jamie xx and co. His debut album Elaenia took things away from these throbbing techno beginnings however and into a significantly more psychedelic world, surprising more than a few fans in the process.
Kuiper, its follow-up EP, continues on this path. The monster 20-minute title track is an up-and-down trip that could feel like an album in itself, while its counterpart ‘For Marmish Part II’ follows on from Elaenia’s part one; a minimal cut which serves as the comedown to Kuiper’s bombast. Will Richards