Check out the best of August’s album releases, including the exciting new IDLES album, Bad Sounds providing accomplished noises and more Mitski magnificence.
IDLES – Joy As An Act Of Resistance
Partisan | 31.08
IDLES came out swinging with the singles for this mighty second album, with these first cuts showing that things had moved forward in more ways than one. There was the patience, poise and unease of ‘Colossus’ and the sturdy guitar-driven anthem of ‘Danny Nedelko’. One thing that remains unchanged, though, is the stern sense of meaning, whether direct or subversive.
It’s all too easy to envisage the sense of chaos this new batch of tracks will bring in the live environment; ‘I’m Scum’ and ‘Gram Rock’ lend themselves perfectly to Joe Talbot’s style as a front man and the band’s playfulness on the big stage. The record’s defining moment, however, comes with harrowing track ‘June’, hearing Talbot pour his heart out around the traumatic experience of having a stillborn baby. Once again, it’s frighteningly open, honest and delivered with vivid imagery.
IDLES are not ones to hide behind pretension; they’re a band for the people, their cards on the table from the word go. Joy… is a follow-up that continues to fill Bristol with a sense of pride. Rhys Buchanan
Bad Sounds – Get Better
Sony | 17.08
Fun-loving five-piece, Bad Sounds, release their debut album, Get Better, this month, and it’s fair to say that this is my most anticipated album of the year. Featuring favourites such as ‘Avalanche’ and ‘Wages’, alongside the new material, the band have delved deeper into psychedelic and electronic sounds, while remaining rooted in their hip-hop aesthetic.
Of the eight unheard tracks, ‘Milk It’ (featuring indie-folk duo, Ardyn) stands out, encapsulating everything that makes a Bad Sounds tune great: playful lyrics, strong hooks and a buoyant beat. Get Better is a thirteen-track journey that’s one wave short of a concept album – a mature and energising debut from Bath’s finest. Amy Grace
Mitski – Be the Cowboy
Secretly Group | 17.08
Mitski‘s name should top the list when talking about female empowerment. In her songs, she’s unafraid to disclose all the ways life can break a person, and what’s more, without the need for a parade of sad, tearful tracks.
Speaking only of romantic relationships being very reductive for Mitski’s multilayered lyrics, Be the Cowboy comes from a fictional place: that of a singer performing solo onstage, venting both her spleen and happiness to an indefinite entity. Such complexity is carried into the music, with fourteen tracks spanning from ballads to synth-pop and indie-rock, melding genres and definitions, in turn revealing all her perfect contemporary songwriting talent. Guia Cortassa
Tomberlin – At Weddings
Saddle Creek | 10.08
Weddings are microcosms of how life goes – rituals imbued with inherent joy, full of hope and solemn, good intentions. In the congregation, however, there are people who hate each other’s guts and cynics who don’t believe it’ll last. At Weddings embodies these mixed blessings.
Tomberlin joins Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy in 2018’s growing, ‘young and heart-rendingly wise’ club of singer-songwriters. The record captures what it’s like, stumblingly, to find your way in the world. It yearns, it rues, it seeks redemption. ‘Self-Help’ stands out, taking you from the melancholy of “The heart is a heavy coffin,” to the bleakly hilarious, “I used a self-help book to kill a fly.” Jon Kean
Mass Gothic – I’ve Tortured You Long Enough
Sub Pop | 31.08
Mass Gothic appeared a few years ago with a sound that merged melody, pop and fuzzy guitars, the NYC husband and wife duo pulling together something captivating and distinctly lovable. From opener ‘Dark Window’ on their second full-length, it becomes evident that they’ve built upon this sturdy base.
While the tracks don’t stick in your mind for a particularly long time, it makes for a compelling listen to as a whole. There’s something insatiably cool about the way the vocals of Noel Heroux and Jessica Zambri melt together, at times becoming a conversation between the pair – hence the tongue-in-cheek album title. Definitely a record worthy of your time. Rhys Buchanan
Muncie Girls – Fixed Ideals
Specialist Subject | 31.08
Drawing more inspiration from the works of Sylvia Plath, Exeter’s Muncie Girls return with their second album, Fixed Ideals. The thirteen-track record marks an innovative progression from the band’s previous releases, bringing in a new lyrical intensity among themes of anxiety and relationships, with an embellished guitar sound.
Album opener, ‘Jeremy’, entwines personal angst with social and political causes, while lead single, ‘Picture of Health’, is a prime example of the infectious Muncie Girls punk that we’ve come to know and love. Highlights of the record include ‘Falling Down’ and the nostalgic ‘In Between Bands’, while the acoustic elements of ‘Hangovers’ showcase the band’s subtler talents brilliantly. Kelly Ronaldson
GULP – All Good Wishes
E.L.K | 03.08
With its base of glistening synthesisers, coupled with the sumptuously sweet vocals of Lindsey Leven, All Good Wishes, the sophomore effort of Guto Pryce’s Gulp, draws effortless connotations of summer. Far from just a sunset soundtrack, it displays masterful restraint and avoids ostentatious melodrama in its sonic pursuit.
A clear departure from his work with Super Furry Animals, Pryce trades excess for intimacy, displayed on the album’s warm, neo-classical rhythmic arrangements and the lyrical sincerity of his partner Leven, with whom he has recently had a child. Ethereal throughout, without becoming lightweight, All Good Wishes reminisces upon 1980s art-pop whilst maintaining its individuality and evading cliché. Will Perkins
Still Corners – Slow Air
Sub Pop | 17.08
Marking the fourth studio album from Still Corners, Slow Air opens with the beautiful and trance-inducing ‘In The Middle of the Night’, blending haunting, ethereal vocals with pulsing beats and a helping of melodic folk influence.
The record transitions effortlessly between the melancholic metaphors of ‘Sad Movies’, the head-spinning ambiences of ‘Black Lagoon’, and the heart-wrenching nostalgia of ‘The Photograph’, before the dreamlike atmosphere of ‘Long Goodbyes’ brings the album to an instrumental close. Where new releases are concerned, this year has been teeming with impressive, high-vibe synth-pop, and the latest offering from the London duo is undoubtedly standing high among the ranks as one of the best so far. Kelly Ronaldson
Trevor Powers – Mulberry Violence
Baby Halo | 17.08
On his first record since the retirement of three-album project Youth Lagoon in 2016, Trevor Powers creates delightfully unsettling electronic bliss that’s as fascinating as it is unnerving. No more so is this evident than on ‘Dicegame’, a synth-led track that creeps up on you like an unreachable itch, enhanced by the Idaho native’s heavily-manipulated (yet hauntingly beautiful) vocals.
Throughout, Mulberry Violence almost dares the listener to attempt escape from its sonically-unsettling allure – from the irresistible jazz undercurrents of ‘Clad in Skin’ to the bombastic, disjointed grooves of ‘Ache’, via the genuinely affecting bliss of ‘Playwright’, masterfully upholding its tonal cohesion and intrigue. Will Perkins
Menace Beach – Black Rainbow Sound
Memphis Industries | 31.08
From the opening hazy, harmonious reverberations and urgent, psych-tinged rhythms of the title track, Black Rainbow Sound lures you into Menace Beach’s eccentric sonic sphere. The third record from the Leeds alt-pop rockers, these tracks bear the band’s penchant for distinctively idiosyncratic melodies and beautifully cacophonous arrangements, whilst taking their sound to new territories with a full immersion in eclectic synths and woozy electronica.
‘Tongue’ exudes a multitude of otherworldly oscillations and dark, heady distortions through which Liza Violet’s melodic, warped vocals surface, as ‘8000 Molecules’ embraces you in a lilting, dreamy daze. Enchanting and uncanny, this record is a dazzling, kaleidoscopic voyage that you’ll want to embark upon over and over again. Kezia Cochrane
Foxing – Nearer My God
Matador | 24.08
Between 2015’s Dealer and their latest, Foxing have gone through both extreme personal and professional fluctuations. While the band draws from the most raw and painful of life’s moments, they’ve often said that this tests the band’s sound and lyrics.
On this, their third full-length album, Foxing bring more synth elements, best highlighted on Tracks like ‘Heartbeats’, while still maintaining their cinematic, emo roots. On the record’s title track, the pained falsetto of singer, Conor Murphy, evokes a sweeping reflection that couples the band’s progression. The record continues to pull Foxing in multiple directions, which is great for fans, but also worrying as they show more of their vulnerabilities. Albert Testani
Interpol – Marauder
Matador | 24.08
While it’s not ground breaking or a far departure from what we’ve come to expect from the NYC trio, they have found a way to refresh their distinct and definitive indie sound of distant, atmospheric guitars and elegantly-uninterested vocals. Interpol’s latest since 2014’s El Pintor comes off the heels of a fifteen-year anniversary tour for their seminal debut, Turn on the Bright Lights.
Opening track, ‘If You Really Love Nothing’ and ‘NYSMAW’ bring the biggest step forward sonically, with more syncopation, while ‘The Rover’ and ‘Complications’ hark back to early days of their debut and sophomore records, with driving percussion and dancing indie choruses. Albert Testani
Anna Calvi – Hunter
Domino | 31.08
Despite their professed superiority in the food chain, modern humans have lost so many of their instincts. We’re more adept at hunting online bargains on Black Friday than we are at catching and cooking our own dinner. And we’d let the fire go out whilst distracted by Love Island.
Rather than taking the world as she finds it, Anna Calvi seeks to shape her own existence. Her voice is visceral throughout. The bassline prowls on ‘Alpha’. ‘As A Man’ and ‘Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy’ question gender stereotypes. It’s this sense of primal energy and constant questioning of received wisdom that makes Hunter such a compelling album. Jon Kean
Our Girl – Stranger Today
Cannibal Hymns | 17.08
There are bands that draw you mystically into their sound. If it’s even possible, Our Girl’s is a meeting of dream-pop and aggressive shoegaze, lined with a voice that recalls the likes of Ex Hex or Sleater Kinney. Formed around Big Moon guitarist Soph Nathan, the Brighton-based three-piece stand out through their attitude, sincerity and vitality.
Stranger Today oozes band chemistry and has a rare staying power that leaves you feeling as though you could listen to it forever. It’s fierce, without tying itself to one genre or reaching for the overused. Drown in the head-bop-inducing ‘In My Head’ or the dreamy ‘I Really Like It’ for a taster of what the album has to offer. Lor Nov