Everything In Between is undoubtedly a step onward from its predecessors – it’s more developed in every way, though admittedly lacks a little of the sheer raw bite that made Weirdo Rippers in particular so exhilarating.
As musical collaborations go, the one embarked upon by James Mercer, mercurial singer/songwriter with esteemed Portlanders The Shins, and Brian Burton, better known as producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse, has to go down as one of the most unlikely. While perhaps not in the sublime bracket of ridiculousness inhabited by Burt Bacharach's mutual love-in with Elvis Costello and Dr Dre that reared 2005's ill-advised At This Time or Bing Crosby and David Bowie uttering Christmas carols to one another, it certainly set the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons late last year when Mercer announced Broken Bells was a fully projected work in progress and an album would be imminent.
It may not seem restrained, but trust when I say that nothing less than a dissertation or thesis will suffice for such a mind-bogglingly massive album.
Whatever angle you examine it from, Lucky Shiner is an impressive statement, especially for a debut, and when Gold Panda lets the house beat sink into the background and experiments a little more with space and structure the results are gorgeous.
Where Antidotes had blitzkriegs, Total Life Forever has drawn-out hypnoses; where Antidotes was furious and muscular and destructive, Total Life Forever is quiet and sinister and inconsolable.
Yet I think conversely it’s Cox’s inability to totally connect to an audience that makes him such a spectacularly special songwriter.
Infra was originally conceived as a 25-minute score for a Royal Ballet collaboration between composer Max Richter, choreographer Wayne McGregor and visual artist Julian Opie which premiered in November 2008 and was also broadcast on BBC2. Fleshed out to just over 40 minutes through the inclusion of outtakes and extended sections, the soundtrack was recently revisited and recorded by Richter and a string quintet with a view to documenting the ballet and giving the musical accompaniment a life of its own. Unsurprisingly, he achieves this and more with his fourth studio album on FatCat's classical imprint 130701, further solidifying his reputation as one of Britain's most versatile and identifiable classical voices.
Both beautiful and terrible at once, Returnal is the aural equivalent of a scuba dive in the open ocean.
Cosmogramma is dense and devotional, Ellison piloting his craft into the fading slipstream of his aunt Alice Coltrane’s cosmic strain of jazz.
It’s pretty good, but as with any punks gone pro, Crystal Castles have lost something – attitude, fire, aggression, danger; the usual stuff.
For rap fans it's both a testament to the versatility of the genre and Kanye's own brilliance that he can make something so refreshingly different which still fits comfortably in the rap canon.
Those who optimistically purchased Make Believe and Raditude will know that a good first single does not a great Weezer album make, but Hurley is packed solid, with a sense of fun and good-time melodies cropping up at every juncture.
A few nights ago, I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to write my review of Arcade Fire’s third album in real time. I would allot myself its not inconsiderable running length to bash out this article, whilst also, crucially, knocking back a finger of beer for each mention of “the kids” or “the suburbs” in Win Butler’s lyrics.
The Age of Adz is not an unqualified success; occasionally it does feel like a little too much, and until the dust has settled it is difficult to say where it will sit in his discography as a whole.
If Sound of Silver was the sound of someone reaching far enough to make something just plain great, then This is Happening is the sound of a man with great taste who really understands music, making dumb body music with hidden depths if anyone cares to investigate.
If you’ve visited Shearwater’s website over the last couple of months, you’ll have been greeted by an arresting, scratchily-filmed series of images – of mist over mountains, damaged flags and roiling sea-waters; of travel journals and captains’ logs, bloodied bird carcasses and satellite grabs. It’s all part of the story.
Learning is a ... bruised and suggestive affair; of catharsis and rare, redemptive beauty, which ranks as one of the most uniquely endearing and quietly forceful debut albums of recent years.
It is a wild, vivid romance that The National make their own, and on High Violet it sounds just as striking, just as wild, just as vivid as ever.