Marie Davidson? Adrienne Lenker? Kurt Vile? MØ? More new music by Chaouche? October’s releases are by no means a trick and very much a treat.
MARIE DAVIDSON – WORKING CLASS WOMAN
Ninja Tune | October 5th
Working Class Woman is a twisted, abrasive and darkly humorous take on dance music and life in Berlin. Opener ‘Your Biggest Fan’ brazenly mocks club culture: “Are you doing a DJ set tonight?” Davidson’s spoken text rings out, sneering sarcastically. With foundations laid by her last album, 2016’s Adieux Au Dancefloor, Working Class Woman builds on the dance floor blueprint. From the hi-hats and thumping groove of ‘The Psychologist’, to the haunting techno of ‘Burn Me’, to the brighter, more melodic tones of ‘So Right’, Davidson layers probing lyricism – some in English and some in French – over snarling club rhythms and textures. “I work all the fucking time,” she says in industrial cut ‘Work It’, “Work, sweat, work to be a winner.” It’s a robotic acknowledgement of the unforgiving nature of club land, a nod to hard work and a nod to appreciating your own success – “Work for yourself, love yourself.” For all the largely scathing lyrics and harsh, industrial soundscapes – exemplified in cacophonous ‘The Tunnel’ – there are moments of respite, too. Slowly chiming ‘Day Dreaming’ oozes warmth, the melodies sounding almost choral and closer ‘La chambre intérieure’ twinkles dreamily, fading out as Davidson whispers intimately in French. The fine line between playfulness and disdain blurs across the record, so has Davidson’s extensive touring made her bitter toward the industry she’s negotiating? Or, is she serving up a few home truths whilst understanding herself, laughing at the rest of us and getting on with what she does best? Katie Thomas
ADVANCE BASE – ANIMAL COMPANIONSHIP
Run For Cover/Orindal Records | October 5th
Since retiring his renowned Casiotone For The Painfully Alone moniker in 2010, Owen Ashworth’s Advance Base has never sounded better than over the ten songs that comprise Animal Companionship. There’s something astutely pure in Ashworth’s approach to songwriting here that speaks utter volumes for his incomparable twenty-year career.
Though these songs are typically laden with subjects of pain, nostalgia, heartbreak, and melancholy, Animal Companionship proves to be an immensely therapeutic experience for Ashworth and his fans alike. From the delicate instrumentation on ‘Dolores & Kimberly’ that seem to trigger goosebumps on cue, to hearing Ashworth drolly imitate barking on ‘Your Dog’, it’s an album that deserves an honest listen and truly leaves the listener with a better sense of self and sensitivity. Harriet Taylor
ADRIANNE LENKER – ABYSSKISS
Saddle Creek | October 5th
Here’s a game for you; can you listen to the latest solo record from Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker, without your eyeballs leaking? Maybe buy some shares in Kleenex (other tissue brands are available), before you crack into Abysskiss. Delicate opener ‘terminal paradise’ finds Lenker ruminating over her death, with vocals almost whispered over delicate acoustic guitars. It sets the tone for most of the record, but it’s not entirely single-paced; ‘out of your mind’ is a bit more uptempo, even if it won’t set any dancefloors on fire. For the most part, a beautiful hushed- vocals-over-acoustics aesthetic abounds. It’s maybe not the best choice of aural pleasure unless you have time for a ruddy good cry, but if you do; dive in, it’s beautiful. Simone Scott Warren
MOLLY BURCH – FIRST FLOWER
Captured Tracks | October 5th
More than a year on from her critically- acclaimed debut, LA native Molly Burch returns, laying bare her soul in the intimate First Flower. As she confronts her own battles against anxiety and imperfections with an empowering lyrical twist, the singer-songwriter’s vocals take centre stage throughout the album, backed with a tranquil and harmonious blend of acoustic and orchestral instruments. Lead single, ‘Wild’ details Burch’s search for self-acceptance, finding the ideal balance between celebrating flaws and idolizing others, while title track ‘First Flower’ marks a wistful dream-pop effort in the form of a classic love song. Remarkably, where ‘Good Behaviour’ works to challenge the expectations placed upon us, it’s the confident and unapologetic nature of ‘To The Boys’ that makes a lasting impression. Kelly Ronaldson
MØ – FOREVER NEVERLAND
Chess Club/RCA Victor | October 5th
In the four years since MØ released her debut album, No Mythologies To Follow, the Danish pop hero has become a global star via Major Lazer collab ‘Lean On’ and worked with everyone from Justin Bieber to Charli XCX (featured here on ‘If It’s Over’). It’s the latter’s approach – pop but make it weird – that Karen Marie Ørsted deploys on Forever Neverland. Yes, the record is full of sunny electronic pop (‘Sun In Our Eyes’) and lusty bops (‘I Want You’), but its oddities are where it really shines. On ‘Nostalgia’, Ørsted guides us through the decline of a relationship in spoken-word verses and carnival rhythms. ‘Blur’, meanwhile, combines a ‘Where Is My Mind?’ acoustic strum with vocoder vocals and synthetic blares to make something strangely emotional and delightfully offbeat. Rhian Daly
SAINT SISTER – SHAPE OF SILENCE
Self-Release | October 5th
If Saint Sister’s opening flurry of releases emphasised their striking subtlety and aesthetic nuance, then debut album Shape Of Silence represents the broadening and deepening of their approach.
The Dublin-based duo drift across 12 tracks, wisps of sound that pit opaque electronics against the inherent mysticism of Irish traditional music. From the harp inflections of the title track to the eeriness of the aptly named ‘Twin Peaks’, this is a uniquely atmospheric record, akin to watching the lights of a ship come blinking through thick fog.
The heart-rending longing of ‘Half Awake’ bleeds into sub-zero songwriting on haunting finale ‘The Mater’. Never ones to be understood immediately, Shape Of Silence finds Saint Sister posing ever more ornate yet addictive puzzles. Robin Murray
KURT VILE – BOTTLE IT IN
Matador | October 12th
Hey, everyone! Death is coming! That’s what Kurt Vile’s here to gently remind us and Bottle It In, his first album in three years, encourages us to sit with the certainty. It’s best listened to when the air is cooling, with a blanket wrapped around you on a deserted beach as each guitar pedal takes on a personality of its own. Reverse delay appropriately narrates second single ‘Backasswards’ — a song about coming back down to Earth after a day of daydreaming, and Mary Lattimer’s harp adds a welcome element unheard of in any previous Kurt record. But in classic Vile style, the songs sprawl with his drooling improvisations on love and death and his little lot in life. Those waiting for hooks won’t get them. The riffs repeat and remind us to stay in the moment, to go with the flow, to love everything you have. Death is coming. Emma Madden
CHAI – PINK
Heavenly Recordings | October 12th
Effervescing with urgent, frenetic rhythms, bubble-gum melodies and high-octane vocals, PINK exudes unadulterated exuberance and irresistible charm.
The debut release from Japanese four-piece CHAI, their kaleidoscopic kawaii-meets-punk attitude defies expectation at every turn with mischievous buoyancy.
Across the six tracks, CHAI embrace self-love and acceptance, reject beauty norms, tackle the world of modern dating and alight on the ‘Hello Kitty cult’ with their playful and defiant vitality. The versatility of their sound is astounding as they deliver the funkiest bass riffs on ‘Boyz Seco Men’ whilst ‘N.E.O’ offers a heady fusion of sharp, relentless dance rhythms and roaring vocals imbued with garage-rock sensibilities. An inimitable debut, CHAI are resolutely here to wrap you up in their curious, saccharine world and you won’t want to leave. Kezia Cochrane
NENEH CHERRY – BROKEN POLITICS
Smalltown Supersound | October 19th
Neneh Cherry albums don’t come around often enough. Only her fifth solo LP in a career dating back to the 80s, Broken Politics is exactly the kind of thing our ears need to encounter more regularly.
Taking a stand against the ongoing shitshow that is the world in an elegant but damning manner – she’s not mad, just, y’know, disappointed – Cherry exudes as much class and wisdom as ever, while Four Tet’s masterful production provides a tremendous backdrop of electronica, dub and jazz.
Whereas much of the album explores the current societal malaise, the allusion to the American Civil War in “Shot Gun Shack” points to how deep the problems she addresses run. That they inspire music as great as this is a small but significant silver lining. Thomas Hannan
CLOUD NOTHINGS – LAST BUILDING BURNING
Wichita Recordings | October 19th
Ever since a collection of lo-fi indie demos surfaced in 2010, Cloud Nothings, have chosen to build and deconstruct their sound with every new release. Their latest is no exception as the band build on the melodic affair of their last album Life Without Sound, adding fury and bile to every song. ‘On An Edge’ is a blisteringly brutal track that pummels you with its perfectly timed loud/quiet dynamics and searing guitar riffs. The earworm sensibilities of bands like Hüsker Dü and The Wipers live on in songs like ‘Leave Him Now’ and ‘Offer An End’. Drowning in drama and distortion Last Building Burning is an album that rattles and shakes in all the right places; perfect for emotional singalongs in bedrooms all over. Stephanie Phillips
HELENA DELAND – FROM THE SERIES OF SONGS ‘ALTOGETHER UNACCOMPANIED’ VOL. III AND VOL. IV
Luminelle Recordings | October 19th
Much of Helena Deland’s music is beautifully disjointed – splintered in structure, lyrically oblique, varied in genre – and concerns memory. It’s fitting for Deland to have released disparate ‘memories in song form’ this year in short volumes instead of a full record. The final instalment of the Montréal artist’s Altogether Unaccompanied series is not so much a significant step up from Vol. I & Vol. II than it is a continuation of Deland’s intricate, intimate songwriting. ‘Two Queries’ is a creaking, Angel Olsen-esque song that does find some unity in its noirish counterpart, ‘A Stone is a Stone’. But these tracks pale in comparison to the hypnotic highs of ‘Rise’ and the fibrous, synth-pop tug of anxiety anthem, ‘Claudion’. The latter two songs make Deland’s memories everlasting. Charlotte Krol
HOW TO DRESS WELL – THE ANTEROOM
Domino | October 19th
A decade into his career as How To Dress Well, Tom Krell is gunning for something boundary-breaking with his fifth record The Anteroom. Ambition doesn’t always translate to the finished product though and opener ‘Human’s Disguised As Animals’ feels short of any inventiveness. The thirteen lengthy tracks play as one continuous piece as he dabbles with a personal narrative, fragile vocals and emotive synths. Krell dips in and out of different ideas but rarely commits himself to any of them. He has, however, mastered the art of build and release as the intimate moments satisfyingly grow into turbulent bouts of chaos. This album is soothing and easy to lose yourself in, but the overall package comes off as something nondescript and doesn’t do enough to truly excite the senses. Rhys Buchanan
CHAOUCHE – PROGRESSION EP
Night Time Stories | November 2nd
Sometimes the universe feels aligned. Sometimes it’s out of kilter. Sometimes you wake up and realise that you’ve overdone it on a school night (again); you wonder what will ease your troubled mind. You scrabble through, with jam for brains, until you put on Aisha Chaouche’s EP, Progression. The fog lifts; the world becomes much brighter.
This effect is no coincidence. Darkness may underlie these ambient tracks, often through sombre, imposing piano chords, but light prevails, ultimately taking the foreground. Chaouche’s voice enchants. The songs form a suite, portraying the ongoing duality of having fears, yet remaining courageous. Anyone struggling to come to terms with themselves, be it with a hangover or bigger and more permanent tribulations, should make this EP part of the healing process. Jon Kean
BRIDGES – ON AND ON LIKE THIS
Rose Coloured Records | Out Now
Despite undeniable comparisons to some of the biggest names in indie rock, local quartet Bridges manage to naturally maintain their unique, small-band spark without diminishing their talents in any way. Having been contributing to the scene here for so long, there’s something about Bridges’ music that beautifully captures the essence of underground Bristol, and their forthcoming EP is certainly no exception.
The aptly named On And On Like This flows like an embodiment of our detailed city, driving and immediate, yet with the most intricate and haunting guitar work that Bridges have ever produced. Themes of love, youth and reflection during ‘Amor’ and ‘Sunday’ find a harmonic balance between heart-wrenching and uplifting, in turn marking this the band’s most emotional work to date. Kelly Ronaldson