Kids See Ghosts – Kids See Ghosts
Kid Cudi and Kanye go deep in brief.
Yet another Ye Wyoming album, on Kids See Ghosts Kanye shares the billing with Kid Cudi and the result is the most expansive and interesting album of the five. At times pyschedelic, at times experimental, Cudi and West explore the broken spirit and the need for hope. It’s the most complex of the five LPs and rewards repeat listening – human, confessional, questioning and suprisingly humble.
Rival Consoles – Persona
An emotive album of masterful electronica.
Ryan Lee West’s fourth full length album is strangely emotive and human. West’s dedication to sound design results in otherwise industrial sounds, take the roaring synth bass on ‘Phantom Grip’ for example, sounding alive and nuanced. This is not to say that Persona isn’t ultimately a dance record, songs like’Sun’s Abandon’ and the title track itself come packed with overwhelming bass and drum lines. Yet, Persona is a record intended for more than just the dance floor. It’s in equal parts intimate and grandiose.
Wyvern Lingo – Wyvern Lingo
R&B, pop and alternative combine on an engaging debut.
Wyvern Lingo’s self-titled album arrives on the back of a good few years of graft and songwriting, playing live and working things out in front of audience and it’s shown on this debut. ‘I Love You Sadie’ is the band’s most immediate track, my Irish song of last year, The album fleshes out and expands upon that polished R’n’B sound with harmonious intent and a keen eye on real-world events. It’s a fine debut and there’s certainly more to come from the Bray trio.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex And Food
Their most varying yet effective album yet.
Ruban Nielson’s UMO are band that always moved between psych-rock, frenetic sonics and oddball funk. Sex and Food finds a bit of everything of the band’s established sounds in there along but perhaps with everything pushed to the fringes or testing the limits somewhat. So there’s the aggressively-charged distorted rock of ‘American Guilt’ alongside the positively 70s yacht rock tracks ‘Ministry of Alienation’ and ‘Everybody Acts Crazy Nowadays’. “When it comes to rock, I want to get into dodgier territory.”, is how Nielson has talked about the album.
Nielson’s voice remains as the peculiar whispering floating timbre. It’s a little creepy, a little laconic, and totally unique. With influences drawn from places he visited like Reykjavík, Seoul, Auckland, Hanoi and Mexico, away from the Portland home that informed much of his 2015 breakthrough record Multi-Love, Sex and Food ultimately, is like a patchwork of their sound to date.
Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
Thrilling experimental dream pop
Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth first started making music together at the age of 13 and by the time, their songs were shared with the world, the English pair had developed a close bond that made them seem like kindred spirits to the twins from The Shining. That their music could be described as nursery rhyme eerie freak folk from down the rabbit hole (they called it “experimental sludge pop”) only reinforced the aesthetic. Their debut album I, Gemini then was unique and interesting but largely unsatisfying, a curio of youthful inventiveness.
With this year’s followup I’m All Ears, at the age of 19, Let’s Eat Grandma have thrown themselves into feverish pop music that draws from synthesiser textures, acoustic loops, deep rolling basslines and a more direct melodic approach but they haven’t sacrificed their eerie otherness.
Hookworms – Microshift
Expansive LP from Leeds noise-rockers
Five piece psychedelic/noise rock band from Leeds, Hookworms’ Microshift is an album that draws on the band’s noise rock origins and expands it with electronic-pop, synthesizer, heart-on-sleeve experimentalism and kraut-rock sensibilities. That is all works so well is a testament to the band’s abilities. It’s like Passion Pit crossed with The Rapture with some extra grit and heart.
J Colleran – Gardenia
The former Mmoths producer finds a new strand to explore.
The former Mmoths producer has moving away from simplistic electronic pop for a number of years and J Colleran’s Gardenia confirms it. While MMoths’ music owed much of its original inspiration to the pop tradition, Gardenia feels and sounds like a superb entry into the contemporary classical school.
Deciding to focus on writing for strings pulls the project’s sound palette away from the electronic and into the world of the cinematic. The moody ‘bEra’ envelopes the listen in a world of stillness and movement. Piano keys jangle against the drawn-out breaths of the violins. Each of the eight songs on Gardenia feel richly textured yet minimalist. There always seems to be enough in the track to keep your attention while never having so much as to knock you out of the dreamscape the music invariably sends you to. ‘And The Sky Cracked For The First Time’ stands out as the album highlight. The track gradually layers texture upon texture, building tension until the autotuned vocals send out a huge release. Haunting and emotive, ‘And The Sky Cracked For The First Time’ and the rest of the tracks on Gardenia are examples of contemporary classical music at its best. – Luke Sharkey