New month, new music! Check out our April album reviews featuring Fenne Lily, ISLAND, Hinds, Tom Misch and more.
Fenne Lily – On Hold
Self-Release | 06.04
While Fenne Lily may have been branded a ‘folk’ artist early on, her debut album On Hold proves that, although the influence is still there, she’s working with a subtle blend of new sounds and textures. From opening track ‘Car Park’, to recent single ‘Three Oh Nine’, Fenne manages to incorporate poignant lyricism, spine tingling-vocals and varied guitarwork in a way that blurs the line between folk, indie and ambient.
‘The Hand You Deal’ perhaps highlights her range most, echoing the sounds of London Grammar with its haunting vocals and arpeggiation. Meanwhile, current single, ‘On Hold’, shows a grittier side to a Bristol artist we know and love, with a rhythm section that pushes forward and overdriven lead lines that even touch on grunge. It all combines to bring a welcome moment of catharsis to an album that is otherwise defiantly mellow and melancholic. While there is no one standout on the album, Fenne Lily’s personality and faultless vocals tie together a record which maintains your attention. Hannah Rooke
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food
Jagjaguwar | 06.04
Sex and food are true symbols of our society’s ability to turn primal human needs into consumer goods, a theme dear to Ruban Nielson, and one predominant on his latest album of the same name. With titles such as ‘Major League Chemicals’, ‘American Guilt’ and ‘The Internet of Love (That Way)’, it’s a clear record of our time.
Recorded in Portland with Jacob Portrait and Kody Nielson, but inspired by Ruban’s wandering the Earth, UMO’s fourth LP is a compendium of their experimentation to date, expanding their love for multifaceted psychedelia to the realms of funk and rock, with open guitar tunings, filtered vocals and counterpointed rhythms. An irresistible portrait of the contemporary world. Guia Cortassa
Goat Girl – Goat Girl
Rough Trade | 06.04
The long-awaited, self-titled debut from London’s Goat Girl sees the quartet cram nineteen tracks into forty minutes. Taking their home city as inspiration, Goat Girl draw influences from the capital’s rich musical history while evoking its creative excitement and seedy underbelly.
The grimey blues of debut single ‘Country Sleaze’ is the album’s highlight, which sadly comes to an end in less than two minutes. Such brevity is a theme, with a lot of tracks sounding like they could do with a little more work to turn them from ideas into something more fully realised. Goat Girl makes a decent listen, but struggles to demand your attention for too long. Tim Ellis
Slonk / Flat Rufus – Sherrin Split EP
Self-release | Out now
Better known by his pseudonym, Slonk, bedroom artist and Bristol native Joe Sherrin is renowned for his signature lo-fi sound and experimental style. This month, he releases a brand new split EP with his brother, Harry Sherrin (aka Flat Rufus), highlighting the raw, emotional intensity of the two siblings’ work.
Dreamy and upbeat, Slonk opener ‘Ladies Mile’ blends cheerful melodies with a hypnotic distortion, contrasted heavily by the haunting loops and dreadful atmosphere of ‘Familiar Air’. Occupying the second half of the record, the final tracks fade in courtesy of Flat Rufus, with heart-wrenching EP closer ‘Pixels’ taking a subtle spoken-word approach with a heavy post-rock influence. Kelly Ronaldson
Half Waif – Lavender
Cascine | 27.04
Pulsing with ethereal synths, heady drums and rich, tender vocals, Lavender is a record of exhilarating, magical grandeur. Imbued with an unguarded intimacy, the tracks purvey the pensive and insightful musings of Half Waif, aka Nandi Rose Plunkett, on the transience of life, relationships and the differing phases and fractures we experience within all of this.
Crafting lofty electronic soundscapes that glisten with delicate intricate melodies and effervesce with pounding, hypnotic beats, all embellished with fluctuating, brooding glitchy detail, Half Waif purveys her inimitable sonic authority. Every track on Lavender possesses a compelling blend of emotive fragility and soaring defiance that makes this record a deeply human and spellbinding work of art. Kezia Cochrane
Confidence Man – Confident Music For Confident People
Heavenly | 13.04
If long winter evenings oppress you, merely invest in Australian disco-kooks, Confidence Man’s debut album right now. You need never be seasonally affected again. Janet Planet, Sugar Bones and their mysteriously-veiled bandmates could possess even the most dancefloor-averse amongst you. You’ll gyrate ‘round your kitchen like you’re in Studio 54.
Think Basement Jaxx, New Young Pony Club, spurts of LMFAO and Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords. ‘Better Sit Down Boy’ defies being sedentary. ‘Bubblegum’ layers life goals over a limb-livening, funked-up beat. On ‘Boyfriend,’ Planet sings, “My boyfriend talks too much / Too much about our love / Our love is not enough,” proving that it’s not all fluorescent ear candy. Jon Kean
Hinds – I Don’t Run
Lucky Number | 06.04
Following the success of their debut record Leave Me Alone, this month marks the return of Spanish indie-pop quartet Hinds and the release of their outstanding second album, I Don’t Run. Despite the band keeping their signature lo-fi garage undertones, Hinds’ sound is far more refined this time around, portraying their enthusiasm for this unapologetic new start and highlighting the progress that the band have made since their breakthrough debut. Here, the band light-heartedly address their development in dreamy pop single release ‘New for You’, while the latter half of the album presents a barefaced, unapologetic Hinds through tracks such as ‘Finally Floating’ and ‘Ma Nuit’. Kelly Ronaldson
A Place To Bury Strangers – Pinned
Dead Oceans | 13.04
Pinned is the fifth album from Brooklyn’s A Place to Bury Strangers, a band known for their loud live shows where psychedelic drones get blasted with ear-splitting feedback. Guitars that sound like power tools are joined by menacing post-punk basslines and motorik drumming to build a sense of drama.
The volume is pretty relentless until the album finally lets up with the drowsy shoegaze comedown of ‘I Know I have Done Bad Things’. Plenty of noisy bands have been inspired by the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy LP, but by choosing not to turn down the volume, A Place To Bury Strangers almost manage to capture the visceral excitement of their live shows. Tim Ellis
Alexis Taylor – Beautiful Thing
Domino | 20.04
On his latest effort, the Hot Chip frontman blends reassuring familiarity with risky innovation to distance himself far enough from his band’s music whilst remaining artistically recognisable. Ambitious in length and scope, Taylor expertly crafts an alluringly murky world, complemented but not reliant on his distinctive and hypnotic vocals.
Charged with thumping basslines and moody synths throughout, Beautiful Thing is Taylor’s most personal effort yet, sonically reflective of the versatility of his life. The bombastic titular track is ready-made for the club at 2AM, while ‘Oh Baby’ is full of jangling joy and ‘A Hit Song’ is an electric ballad crafted with a scarcely-found precision. Will Perkins
L.A. Salami – The City of Bootmakers
Sunday Best | 03.04
Lyrically, many albums shower you with flurries of abstraction and swell with powerful emotions, but it is rare to be delivered lengthier tales or developed messages. That’s mainly because it isn’t easy for a songwriter to do (not do well, anyway). Bob Dylan does it. Leonard Cohen did it. Once you’ve heard L.A. Salami’s second album, you’ll concur that he is a troubadour of the very same pedigree.
Mixing a Dylanesque full-band, with a solo acoustic sound, he documents modern society, through an all-you-can-eat buffet of existential topics such as immigration, terrorism, spirituality and hipster gentrification. There’s balance and beauty in his poetry. Unexpected perspectives abound. It’s meaty stuff indeed. Jon Kean
Island – Feels Like Air
Frenchkiss | 06.04
ISLAND’s debut LP is a consistent project encapsulating lead singer, Rollo Doherty’s iconic gravelly tones with fast-paced rhythmics and twinkling guitars. The band sits in the indie-pop-rock sphere, set apart by darker tones and a degree of cinematic atmosphere.
Tracks like ‘Something Perfect’ and ‘Interlude’ offer a mystical element which is beautiful, a word not obviously applicable to Doherty’s vocals. Meanwhile, ‘Horizon’ and ‘We Can Go Anywhere’ have a slower pace with dreamier strands of their iconic percussion and strings. Emotive, dark lyrics flow throughout, reminiscent of previously-released tracks with their references to mortality and religion. This album solidifies what fans have come to expect, but also features some delightfully unexpected moments. Eloise Davis
Isaac Gracie – Self-titled
EMI | 13.04
We all have those albums for when the rain is tapping against the window at an alarmingly consistent rate, the sky a sweatpants grey, with the idea of paradise an obscenely oversized blanket and a cuppa. This is an album to play on a day like that and, with April showers around the corner, it’s a timely release.
Two years have passed since her last release, and this time has given Gracie a chance to develop as an artist. The demos which made the cut are unrecognisable, due in part to the professional production now on hand. Hopefully there won’t be another two year wait for more music. Callum Stevens
Tom Misch – Geography
Beyond The Groove | 06.04
Tom Misch, London beats-maker turned soloist draws on a spectrum of genres and instruments to produce an album that is him at his best. From the face-smushing basslines in ‘Before Paris,’ to the old-school summer vibes of ‘Cos I Love You’ and the gentle romance of ‘You’re On Your Mind,’ this album encapsulates a variety of moods and influences whilst retaining that breezy Misch feel.
Where he may lack lyrical genius, Misch does not lack talented friends and artistic license. Collaborating with soulful Poppy Ajudha on an upbeat heartbreak hit and soft rappers like Goldlink elsewhere, as well as carefully choosing obscure spoken-word samples, it all adds another dimension to the otherwise instrumental productions. Geography is sure to satisfy summer desires. Eloise Davis
Eels – The Deconstruction
PIAS | 06.04
It’s time for another visit to ol’ uncle E’s house, and you just know he’s going to tell the same story he always does. You know the one: it has the odd dramatic flourish (‘The Epiphany’, ‘The Deconstruction’), a little gruff rasping (‘Bone Dry’), those dark yet cutesy phrases you let him get away with (“These walls are unforgiving as the night is black / World can be a real mean place when no-one’s got your back”) and that mix of dark commentary and positivity you’ve always loved. The trouble is, we’ve been calling in at Uncle E’s house since 1996 now. Aren’t you starting to wish he knew a few other tales? Adam Brooks
Haggard Cat – Challenger
Earache | 20.04
Nottingham duo Haggard Cat are bringing very little to the table with this effort. Album opener ‘The Patriot’ offers us a roadmap of things to come – cheap riffs, shouting and fake anger. Unfortunately for the pair, noise and rage doesn’t make up for quality as they tread an already much beaten path.
The guitars in second track ‘American Graffiti’ are actually laughable, sounding like they’re going to bust into ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ at any second. Their one saving grace could be the live show, but we’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, in a genre where we’re spoilt for choice, I’m really struggling to see why you’d turn to this band. Rhys Buchanan