August album reviews

 

The Preatures – Girlhood

The Preatures have followed up one fantastic album with another – this one the cooler sibling of 2014’s Blue Planet Eyes. It’s clever and infectious rock-fused pop, led by our future musical monarch, Izzi Manfredi. As retro sounding as it is fresh, Girlhood is a concept album that wears its influences on its sleeve. I was not surprised to hear Manfredi would be stepping into the shoes of Chrissy Amphlett for a one-off Divinyls show later this year (albeit jealous it’s in Perth) – this album oozes Amphlett flair in both its heavier and gentle moments. The familiarity of it all draws you in to what is one addictive collection of tracks. The chorus of ‘Yanada’, sung in the Indigenous Darug language, is highly contagious, while ‘Magick’ cements the Preatures’ prowess for winning slow grooves (‘Two Tone Melody’ was no fluke). Genre shifts continue to highlight the energy of Girlhood, moving between Aussie punk (‘Lip Balm’), Chic-esque guitar jams (‘Mess It Up’) and prime ballad work (‘Cherry Ripe’). This is addictive stuff and I’m keen to hear it again and again.

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Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

“There’s always someone cooler than you” is a saying that applies to all bar one person in the world, as someone has to hold the superlative, right? Joshua Homme is that person. Even performing with a hefty limp and hopped up on painkillers (ala his Festival Hall show this year), the man is untouchable – a pro at demolishing hecklers, on-stage grooming and of course, belting out the classics. Villains is no exception to the Queens of the Stone Age stand outs. Even with its nine tracks averaging well over 5 minutes apiece (‘Un-reborn Again’ tops the list at 6:40), it’s a really fast record, hitting top gear immediately and blending the QOTSA stoner-rock vibe into a far more polished groove (thanks Mark Ronson). You’ll dance because the funked-up rock enters your bones and because Joshua is subliminally making you. He’s that good. ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’, ‘The Way You Used To’ and ‘The Evil Has Landed’ are standouts for me – sexy, addictive and as much classic QOTSA as they are new. ‘Villains of Circumstance’ is saved to the very end, as QOTSA prove again what masters of the slow burn they can be (having just fooled you into thinking there were none this time around). It’s a paradox, but with every album, QOTSA reinvent their sound while staying true to it. Villains is so far from Songs for the Dead or Era Vulgaris and all those before and in-between, yet I’d be surprised to find a fan not impressed by what’s on offer here.

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Everything Everything – A Fever Dream

In comparison to its predecessor, Get to Heaven, which was insanity in musical form, A Fever Dream is controllably manic. Without knowing what came before it, Everything Everything’s third album sounds crazy for sure. But I feel like there’s a balance here that shows a more considered approach from the band. The frantic is balanced out with subdued touches – for every eccentric ‘Ivory Tower’ there’s a measured and calm ‘Put Me Together’ …well almost. It could be an attempt to get more listeners on board and not scare them away, or it could be an indication Everything Everything have honed in on a sound (although not entirely settled). In any case, A Fever Dreamdemands attention. Jonathan Higgs’ voice is unbelievably good, swinging in and out of intense falsetto and huge choruses – none more bombastic than on album standout ‘Desire’. You want to sing along so bad; but face it, you’ll never get there.

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Brand New – Science Fiction

Brand New have been touting their demise for some time now – all signs point to 2018 as their final year as a band. If that turns out to be the case, Science Fiction is a damn fine way to go out. Eight years on from their fourth album, Brand New return in form far finer than where they left off, and while there are clearly elements left behind (where’d all the screaming go?) this new music is superb. The ferociousness of albums prior is stripped back on Science Fiction; where Daisy’s opener ‘Vices’ led with face-tearing volume and aggression, ‘Lit Me Up’ is a dark, unexpectedly gentle opening tune, and subsequently very eerie. The album seems to build itself around central tracks ‘Same Teeth/Logic’ and ‘137’, each a lengthy addition that build into the heaviest moments, the latter track offering severe guitar work that’s even tastier because of its moderation elsewhere. Science Fiction delivers incredible songs that sound uniquely theirs, yet are indicative of so many indie, rock and punk bands that have flourished in Brand New’s extended absence.

Boo Seeka – Never Too Soon

Boo Seeka impressed me a lot last year, with ‘Deception Bay’ an easy pick in my tunes of the year and their Like a Version cover of MØ’s ‘Pilgrim’ a favourite among 2017’s strong batch of renditions. For a local, emerging act, they sound solidly versed in what they do – one of those acts that release songs in the band’s infancy that may well trump anything that comes later. As far as debut album efforts go, Never Too Soon keeps pace with the stellar singles that preceded it. Smooth vocals and subtle electronica flood this record, as Boo Seeka chill their way through. It’s soul / electronic / indie field day that’s difficult to classify, punctuated with uplifting moments (‘Argo Misty’) and quirky dance tracks (‘Calling Out’) that make it a damn fine experience.

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Dan Sultan – Killer

The man can do no wrong. He sets a direction, he nails it, and then he starts all over again. This to me feels like Dan Sultan’s third incarnation in only four albums. Ditching the guitar and grunt of Blackbird, Dan returns on Killer with a whole lot of piano and gospel swagger. The tracks are instantly in your head, with a bevy of pop soul singles each owned by Dan’s inimitable voice and accentuated with glorious backing vocals. The album is definitely about the big tunes – ‘Hold It Together’, ‘Killer’, ‘Magnetic’, ‘Reaction’ – but is punctuated with a well-placed shifts, like the percussive ‘Drover’, which feels instantly like an Aussie folk classic, or ‘Fire Under Foot’, which combines Dan’s skill for balladry with a huge strings build-up. Each song holds its own in isolation, which is a great start. As a collection, though, this could be Dan’s best to date.

Gordi – Reservoir

I caught Sophie Payten – the coolest thing to come out of Canowindra – as a support act at the Palais Theatre last year, and was immediately transfixed by her sound. I’ve been looking forward to an album since and Reservoir surpasses my expectations. While there’s plenty that I already knew and expected about this album (single ‘Can We Work It Out’ a telling representation of Gordi’s folk pop prowess), the interwoven touches of weird make it a far more intriguing experience than I thought it would be. The album’s continuity actually ends up being one of its surprises, given Gordi will sing over a whispered counting sample one electronic track (‘Heaven I Know’), then pull out an acoustic guitar for a more classic approach the next (I’m Done’); or that ‘Myriad’ features a warped, auto-tuned voice throughout, yet is followed by pure, beautiful vocals on ‘Aeon’. In theory these musical ideas shouldn’t work together, but Gordi is clever enough to pull it all off. A lot of Reservoir holds a keen likeness Bon Iver’s work (they’ve been hanging out for sure), so if you like the American singer you’re in for a treat here. The debut all pays off for Gordi, leaving us with a versatile and memorable collection of tracks.

Gang of Youths – Go Farther In Lightness

Go Farther In Lightness is grand, intense and remarkably poignant – traits now synonymous with Gang of Youths. If you weren’t sure how emotionally heavier this band could get, album number two lets you know quickly. It’s a collection of tracks that both lyrically and sonically play tug-of-war with your feelings; taking you from despair to elation and everything in between over a lengthy 75 minutes. The album is built on a big scale, with several orchestral interludes and massive songs like the outstanding ‘Do Not Let Your Spirit Wane’ and ‘Achilles Come Down’. Even single ‘Let Me Down Easy’ is given new, intensified life on the album, coupled with what is effectively a 3+ minute symphonic introduction (‘Le symbolique’). All facets of David Le’aupepe’s life are penned here, from the hopelessness of ‘What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?’ to the happiness of ‘The Heart Is A Muscle’. Both his lyricism and the sheer talent of Gang of Youth’s rock style completely pull you in; it sounds cheesy but you can’t help but be entirely wrapped around lyrics like “the heart is a muscle now, I want to make it strong”. Go Farther In Lightness is destined for big things – acclaim, accolades, influence, and hopefully some kind of full blown orchestra tour to show its music justice.

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July album reviews

Meg Mac – Low Blows

Low Blows has been a while coming from Meg Mac – the softly spoken Melbournian who belts out soul like a seasoned pro. With a couple of singles and damn fine covers to her name, a debut album was hotly anticipated and although it’s a fleeting visit, it does the trick. A hefty double-up leads Low Blows, firstly with ‘Grace Gold’ – laying down an instant groove and earworm chorus – followed by the powerful title track. While instrumentation like piano and percussion dress things up here, the real kicker is Mac’s voice, which packs serious punch, especially in urgently soulful moments like ‘Don’t Need Permission’. While there’s cool drum work on tracks like ‘Kindness’, Mac’s voice hardly even needs a musical backdrop in many places. ‘Ride It’ is a late highlight, surely crafted to be performed live with musical cutouts bound to enhance an audience sing- and clap-along. Mac made an impression several years ago, so it’s cool to see she’s now following through with an extended offering.

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Lana Del Rey – Lust for Life

Honestly, I don’t care if I’m alone here – this is not a great album, not even a good one. Acclaim for Lana Del Rey’s latest seems way over the top. Sure, there’s occasionally some interesting writing on Lust for Life, and I get that her breed of pop steps away from all the expected glitzy smiles of the genre, but this is far too much of the same, bland, flat-line pop to be an enjoyable package. Lana exhibits little vocal range and draws on other big names to add flavour where she can’t – the prime example being The Weeknd’s employment to heighten the title track. A$AP Rocky appears in a couple of others, but they’re fairly terrible, while Stevie Nicks’ appearance is plain weird. Songs like ‘Groupie Love’ and ‘13 Beaches’ are unconvincing, if not vacuous, and add to an overall drone that fills a whopping 72 minutes. An attempt to rouse things up on closer ‘Get Free’ is too little, too late, as the fixed-tempo gloom of Lust for Life’s majority leaves you wondering how on earth Lana came up with the name.

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Haim – Something to Tell You

Haim pick up where they left off with Something to Tell You – it’s like Days Are Gone just played right through to album number two. The sisters fall into a megastar spectrum between the guilty country pop of Shania Twain and classier efforts of Fleetwood Mac, all the while delivering some of the finest harmonies going around. They make daggy awesome, but are so good at doing so the cool kids that dig it don’t even realise. What I really love about their album is that for all the pop hooks that make Haim so accessible, they’re still able to swings things around into unexpected territory. Any single will sell Something to Tell You, but the album ends with three tracks – ‘Walking Away’, ‘Right Now’ and ‘Night So Long’ – that completely change the pace and mood set by the radio fodder before them. You’re lured into the back end of this album and when things go dark I reckon Haim prove how great they are. Variety, charm and melodic prowess make this a 2017 standout.

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Vera Blue – Perennial

Perennial is a bit of a strange album – beautiful, but often cross-genred to the point of weird. There are plenty of singer songwriter types emerging at the moment and, likewise, plenty of laptop dance acts continuing to rise on the Aussie scene. While I feel like she emerged as predominantly the former, Vera Blue heavily combines the two on this album. What she leaves us with is a whole bunch of dance tracks you don’t necessarily want to dance to. Opening track ‘First Week’ is a subtle pop track – sweet vocals, simple instrumentation… Then the heavy synths drop and it morphs into something far bolder than you’d have thought it could. ‘Give In’ and ‘Regular Touch’ follow a similar mold, cranking up the production big time. Then things calm with ‘We Used To’, which relies on an incredible vocal range and rousing percussion instead of the artificial, and it feels far more natural. There’s a tug-of-war between bangers and beauties that continues from there to album’s end. For every over-manufactured one like ‘Lady Powers’ there’s a fragile stunner like ‘Pedestal/Cover Me’. And while Perennial is confusing at times, Vera Blue’s voice is the saving grace of this album. Even when everything else seems haywire – she’s got some serious power.

April album reviews (2)

Mew – Visuals

I’m new to Mew, the Danish indie band of over (wow, I’m late to this) 20 years… I came across this album by chance, and not aware of their previous catalogue found all sorts of likenesses as I listened through. At first it felt like the band were borrowing from so many of their contemporaries, but on learning how long they’ve been at it I realised it was the other way around. This made me wonder why those similar acts are getting all the praise here (in Aus), while Mew remain relatively unknown. Things kick off with full-blown anthem ‘Nothingness and No Regrets’, which would immensely please any Of Monsters and Men fan, before a pair of synth-laden tracks – ‘The Wake of Your Life’ and awesomely titled ‘Candy Pieces All Smeared Out’ – present the same glossy pop sounds adapted by Two Door Cinema Club and Passion Pit. Further likeness is then found in the vocals on ‘Ay Ay Ay’, which smell distinctly Shins-y. The whole way through, Mew present slick pop tunes, held together by a lot of synth with production evoking the feeling of a full string section. Mew could easily adapt this work to a pop/orchestra collaboration. I’m sorry I don’t know how Mew have come to this point, but I’m glad I can now find out.

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Gorillaz – Humanz

Z’s everywhere… “double the e, double the z, double the flava!” Not exactly the right kinda quote when listening new Gorillaz material, but with Humanz is there a right thought? There are a lot of trackz here and a seriouz case of cohesion confusion. ‘Ascension’ and ‘Strobelite’ (can they not spell because they’re animals?) lead the first Gorillaz outing in seven yearz and, surprisingly, it’s not an immediate capture. These first songz fair well on their own, but I could be listening to any number of hip hop recordz. A memorable synth sound eventually appearz along with Albarn’s voice to remind you where you’ve landed, but the early setup gearz Humanz in a randomised flight path that’z altogether confusing and a little frustrating. Genre-bending and guest-loading are Gorillaz trademarkz and there’z no shortage of that here. Discounting any interludez, there are 16 trackz and an even greater number of vocalistz. A bunch of humanz helping those gorillaz with their singing (but not spelling). While there waz no standout pop gem for me on this album az there haz been on otherz, ‘Momentz’ (feat. De La Soul) is certainly in the party camp when many of its neighbourz are dark or dreary. For said dark side though, there iz not a finer moment than late comer ‘Hallelujah Money’ (feat. Benjamin Clementine), a very nice, deep and murky political piece.

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The Smith Street Band – More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me

I really didn’t know if I liked The Smith Street Band before listening to a full album of their material (as opposed to radio singles), with their talking(yelling)-not-singing approach to vocals and lines all about the northern suburbs (that’s jealously… I live in the boring east). Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome, or maybe I found something, but my opinion of these fellas has turned around having heard More Scared Of You Than You Are Of Me. Wil Wagner has some seriously heavy stuff to say here, and if you can move beyond his style (or perhaps you love it, weirdo) you’ll take something, perhaps a lot, away. There are three levels to the writing on More Scared… First, the complete album is a relationship story, beginning to end; second, the songs are emotional captures, among which you’ll likely find at least one that’s relatable; and third, some of the standalone lyrics are brilliant. There’s a lot to rediscover with subsequent listens. The standout for me was ‘Passiona’ – a candid expression of fear and anxiety – that’s musically gentle before fleshing out sounds along with its lyrics. I’m not convinced TSSB have an album to win over those that truly dislike their style yet. But if you’re still to decide, this one’ll do it for you one way or the other. As far as I can see, so long as you can write, who cares if you can sing.

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Maximo Park – Risk to Exist

Break out the hat and air splits because Maximo Park are back! I never get tired of this band, who consistently release albums with plenty of tracks I want to see on their setlist (and seeing them live is an absolute must). Their catalogue is far from a case of old-is-better and, in many ways, their tunes improve with age. In their sixth outing, the fast indie hooks are paired with a measured and pertinent sentiment. Europe’s political climate is high on their agenda. On title track ‘Risk to Exist’, Paul’s refrain “Show some empathy” is a good summation of the album’s message. There, as on ‘The Reason I Am Here’ and several other tracks, Maximo Park recognise and question a continent in crisis, and point out how flawed reactions to it are (“We will have to make a journey / Through the eyes of idiots / Where every problem in the country / Is blamed upon the immigrants / Not exactly high society / Neither tack nor sobriety”). Risk to Exist is cleverly created; while their strongest messages to date might appear this time around, they haven’t lost the flare of a good tune. You can take it intellectually, or just enjoy the musical mirth, that’s the beauty and the triumph here.

March album reviews (2)

Kingswood – After Hour, Close to Dawn

After Hour, Close to Dawn comes on, ‘Looking for Love’ starts and I’m taken to a tiny, dark club with a piano on stage, little tables full of seated patrons, sipping drinks and enjoying this soulful, bluesy goodness. But hold on a minute, isn’t this Kingswood? As in, smash ya face off, ‘Yeah Go Die’, ear bleeding, scream-a-minute Kingswood? Well yes it is. And as bizarre as this experience is, I really, really like it. Similarly, having heard ‘Golden’ on the radio without a back-announce grabbed me and only later finding out who it was made me double-take. Moving from ripsnorting rock and roll to various forms of soul and blues is an awesome change of tact for the Melbourne trio – it’s not so much a follow up to Microscopic Wars than it is a re-imaging of the band. Their repertoire has been smashed wide open now, the occasional Kingswood-of-old a rare thing (‘Like Your Mother’) among arguably much more interesting material. ‘Big City’ is full country blues that, along with ‘Belle’ before it, includes some stellar harmonies; ‘Rebel Babe’ is multi-faceted, genre-hopping wonder; ‘Alabama White’ goes wild on guitar; and ‘Atmosphere’ saves the best til last, going full-gospel with grouse layers of vocals, guitar and percussion for a rousing end.

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The Shins – Heartworms

So it turns out I like to hold stupid grudges. Upon learning The Shins had a new album, the first thing I remembered about the band was that, five years ago, they ruined a blissful gig when James Mercer self-indulged in a blatantly longwinded (I’m talking looong) solo throughout the encore. Apparently I’m still bitter. I thought about that timeframe, too, and realised Heartworms is the first Shins album in five years. I wish it had come sooner, because when I listened to this beauty I forgot about hating on them so much and quickly remembered how great The Shins are. ‘Name for You’ is instant Shins gold and the right way to kick things off. It feels like a cut from Wincing the Night Away, which given the time Mercer holds onto songs for it could easily have been. ‘Painting a Hole’ is a little weirder, and a few tracks join the variation to break things up (the dreamy country nostalgia of ‘Mildenhall’ and the spacey vibes of ‘Dead Alive’). For the most part though, this disc is full of familiar pop hooks – they haven’t tried any form of reinvention, they’ve just picked up where they left off. With its stirring strings and almost Celtic vibe, ‘The Fear’ is an intriguing way to end such a happy sounding album. “I passed another pointless year,” sings Mercer. “This fear is a terrible drug / If I only had sense enough / To let it give away to love.” This is a sad song masquerading in the company of joyful ones, and it’s done very well. An intriguing way to end a stellar album.

Milky Chance – Blossom

Remember ‘Stolen Dance’? That was a killer track; fresh and interesting with an earworm hook and unique vocals. Well, while I’m not reviewing a four year old single right now, I may as well be. ‘Stolen Dance’ was followed by debut album Sadnecessary and, several singles later, sophomore effort Blossom. From breakthrough single to album number two, you’d expect to hear some growth right? Well the sad fact here is that Blossom does not do what its name suggests, and when you throw it on you’ll hear the exact same Milky Chance you were hearing everywhere in 2013. Don’t get me wrong, single ‘Cocoon’ is damn fun in its own right, but it lacks the new excitement of the aforementioned “smash hit” (I wouldn’t afford the same judgement to the wasteful follow-up single ‘Ego’). I counted three attempts to not just copy and paste on this album: ‘Stay’, ‘Bad Things’ and ‘Piano Song’. The first of these dropped percussion from the equation to produce a dreary acoustic track and the third just annoyed me for how unimaginative its title was …because it’s a song with only piano, guys… ‘Bad Things’ is pretty great, though; the band employ Izzy Bizu to sing along and it makes for a nicely rounded pop item with variance to boot – probably the album’s highlight.

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Laura Marling – Semper Femina

Laura Marling has done something pretty cool over the last 10 years – she’s become a kind of archetype for female folk acts evoking a sound of decades past. Yes, that’s a pretty specific summation, but in fact her name does often come up as an influence or comparison nowadays, to the point it’s hard to not be aware of her work in some way. Like Marling’s work before it, Semper Femina doesn’t so much sound old fashioned as it does timeless, and it’s a good demonstration of why she’s held in such high regard. It’s full of diversity, from striking string arrangements, acoustic guitar carried by rich voice, and the odd rocky moment that breaks out from the calmness across most of the record. The depth of arrangements and lyrical prowess are fairly strong here, as Marling balances the dark and light, proving now – as she did back in 2008 – that she’s writing music beyond her years. Of course, her style is quite specific and therefore will draw a quite specific listener. For all the charm and magic that comes across to one listener, another dose of Laura Marling might just be a tad tiring to another.

Spoon – Hot Thoughts

This is a sexy beast of a record, and after only one listen it propped itself up as one of my favourite Spoon offerings. It’s fresh stuff for the Texans, yet so distinctly theirs; a fact that becomes quickly apparent. The first three tracks set the tone for this album: the steamy funk of ‘Hot Thoughts’, a toe into dark and broody territory on ‘WhisperI’lllistentohearit’ (something of a hangover from Divine Fits), and classy guitar work on ‘Do I Have to Talk You Into It’. The last of those, along with tracks like ‘Shotgun’, are for the Spoon purists, with driving, repetitive hooks and choruses, and Britt Daniel’s unmistakable squawk. But Hot Thoughts is more than predictable Spoon – it’s full of cool new trials and successes. The ensembles used are far more varied than before, with piano featuring heavily. There are psychedelic waves (‘Pink Up’) and deep groove basslines (‘Can I Sit Next to You’), as well as one airy, horn-laden outro (‘Us’) that delves into jazz territory far removed from what you’d expect of the band and is left to smoulder as the album ends. The album’s eclectic and a tad addictive, so get on it.

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March album reviews

Methyl Ethel – Everything is Forgotten

I really love Methyl Ethel’s song ‘Ubu’, which appears up front on the band’s second album Everything is Forgotten. The vocals are intriguing and distinctively Jake Webb’s, the hook is catchy and the chorus has one of those lines that just keeps creeping back into your head. The problem, though, is that the song contributes to a major flaw of the band’s second album. In isolation, the lengthy repetition of the lyric “why’d you have to go and cut your hair” is fun; but when batched in with a bunch of other tracks that employ a similar tactic it gets frustrating. This isn’t to say they’re musically similar – there is in fact a clever display of creative variance throughout – but to have at least six tracks refrains repeated a few too many times is kind of annoying. Sure it’s a pop technique, but it’s jarring here. They’ve chucked in plenty of neat stuff, however. ‘L’Heure des Sorcieres’ employs Midnight Juggernauts-esque synth, ‘Femme Maison/One Man House’ some messy fuzz (and transfixion), and ‘Groundswell’ an old worldly harpsichord intro, with each fronted by that unique vocal which pulled me in in the first place. I feel that in time I’ll forgive my initial criticism of this album, or at least just takes the songs in isolation. Many of them a pretty rad.

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Ed Sheeran – ÷

It’s the emo rap sob pop album nobody wanted! False, actually. Hordes of emo rap lovers wanted it. Or, pop lovers. Sobbing pop lovers? Or the Irish… Do the Irish like the English these days? I think the emo rap lovers wanted something different. Confused? I am too… Because that is what ÷ does to you. Now, the third album in Ed Sheeran’s mathematical catalogue does contain proof that he can write a fun, memorable pop song. The unfortunate thing though, is that it also contains a whole lot of other stuff. You’ve probably heard ‘Castle on the Hill’ – a perfectly rounded, rousing pop tune that reminds us that English teens love to vom (so nostalgic) – and ‘Shape of You’ (the banana shaker one). You could easily stop there, basking in the craft of two well-rounded radio favourites. But, if you want to hear Ed delve into all sorts, listen to ÷. There’s an expected list of (mostly ordinary) ballads on ÷, but there’s also an odd amount of rapping (‘Eraser’), a flawed go at sexy soul (‘Dive’), a kind of nod to Graceland (‘Bibia Be Ye Ye’), an attempted street party anthem (‘Barcelona’), and a stab at an Irish pub ditty (‘Nancy Mulligan’). While this all rushes past in a confusing blaze, nowhere is the randomness of ÷ reflected more than on ‘Galway Girl’, a rap-versed Irish fiddle love song. Now do you see why I’m confused? He’s used so much here, it’s hard to know what else is there to look forward to. Perhaps deathcore, reggae and EDM will be thrown into the mix on his future albums and π. You know, because Ed.

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Alice Jemima – Alice Jemima

These tunes may envelop you or just pass you by depending on how much attention you want to give them. On one hand, the wistful pop of Alice Jemima is a fair stress remedy and escape from the world. Electronic beats, synth and cool guitar (think the xx) combine with whispery vocals (think Lisa Mitchell) to create a dream state you can close your eyes and bathe in. It’s chilled out, summer arvo music. There comes a point where you forget to notice the songs differentiating, but try not to miss the gentle oh-so-odd reworking of ‘No Diggity’. On the other hand, if your eyes are wide open and you’re caught up in whatever else is going on nearby, the “quiet” of these songs will struggle to seep in. This is calm stuff – you have to meet it accordingly.

Holy Holy – Paint

Holy Holy’s Paint is a triumphant Australian rock album, stacked with beauty and feeling. Its paradox is that the songs sound both classic and brand new, each awash with rollicking guitar and smooth vocals that draw you further in with each track. While the band have sited American folk and country bands as influences in the past, there is a distinct Australiana about Paint that is instantly recognisable. Hints of Icehouse and The Church can be found, as can likenesses to many contemporaries who Holy Holy may just well surpass with this release – in several instances I heard a balance somewhere between a Husky-like folk and the brooding of City Calm Down. ‘Darwinism’ is an all-round brilliant track and the indie rock mastery of ‘Elevator’ contains the defining riff off the album, while added touches of progressive psychedelia (‘Shadow’, ‘Send My Regards’) and pop sensibility (‘True Lovers’) only add to Holy Holy’s conquest.