I thought it wasn’t going to happen. Then right at the bitter end, halfway through the final track of the new album, a single, perfect little tear dripped down my ample cheek and finally, everything was right with the world. On first listen I’m a little underwhelmed by I Don’t Live Here Anymore, although given its two predecessors are among my favourite albums of the last decade, it had pretty high expectations to live up to. It’s a little too shiny, somewhat devoid of the turmoil and introspection that, paired with those glistening, timeless melodies made the last two albums so essential. Occasional Rain however takes me right back to those glorious, heartbreaking times: vulnerable, yet hopeful, a personal narrative that transcends its earthy roots and reaches for the sublime.
Willy Mason is younger than me, but sounds like he’s had about a billion more years worth of life experience. His voice, worn and occasionally cracked but also soft and occasionally sumptuous, suggests he’s seen a lot, suffered a fair amount and is bang up for telling you all about it. Taken from his new album Already Dead, Gilded Lie is great for the first few minutes, before becoming overwhelmingly, staggeringly brilliant for the final 30 seconds or so when ghostly synths and a gently strummed guitar combine perfectly to make you (or me, at least) burst into tears.
I personally find Yves Tumor be to at their most compelling when they’re balancing visceral electronic experimentation with big, rocky hooks, either in a single track or across an entire albums worth of material; see: Safe In The Hands Of Love, in which you never quite know what’s lurking around the next corner. Their latest EP Asymptomatic World leans way further into the rockier of these two worlds, forgoing the crushed, fizzing synths in favour of prominent guitars and stadium-friendly vocals, so while it’s by no means my favourite release of theirs, it’s still comfortably better than pretty much everything else that came out last week.
Mali’s Songhoy Blues are reliably relentless in both the quality and positivity of their music, and Barre is no exception, even though it deals with some fairly serious subject matter. Taken from their forthcoming album due out in October, ‘barre’ roughly translates to ‘change’, and the song was written to inspire the youth of their Mali homeland to get involved and help change their corrupt and oppressive political system.
Flower was released back in February, but I’ve only just heard it on my first listen of her new album TO LOVE IS TO LIVE which came out today. It starts life as a brooding electronic pulse with her closely mic’d vocal barely raising above a whisper. And then the chorus, which takes us from Portishead-like restrained anguish to full blown OTT drama in a single swoop.
I have to admit to a shameful lack of prior knowledge of Katie Harkin, which considering she toured with two of my favourite acts – Wild Beasts and Kurt Vile – is fairly unforgivable. Decade is completely wonderful, and her self-titled debut album which came out last week is also well worth checking out.
I love Yves Tumor. Safe In The Hands Of Love kinda passed me by on the first few listens, but after bascially everyone ranked it as one of the best albums of the year I went back to it and now I think it’s a complete masterpiece. This is taken from its upcoming album Heaven To A Tortured Mind, out in April, and it’s fantastic.