The pop culture behemoth and ex-Beatle, PaulMcCartney’s new album features versions of popular ‘standards, predominantly from the 1920s to 1950s, with customary attention to detail. Blending relatively convincingly are two original, although admittedly forgettable McCartney compositions, ‘My Valentine’ and ‘Only Our Hearts’, featuring Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder respectively. Some of the pieces are instantly recognisable, such as ‘It’s Only a Paper Moon’, and ‘Glory of Love’.
It’s all very tasteful; McCartney treats each piece with utmost reverence, opting to replicate even the vibrato-laden ‘’Disney strings’’- despite his past diatribes against them. Fans of the originals treated to reinterpretation here will appreciate that the reproductions are faithful, well-performed and minimalistic.
McCartney fans whose loyalty is tested by the concept are perhaps partially correct in their apprehensions; this album is likely to seem painfully slick and bland to those accustomed to McCartney’s unique baroque pop style, particularly on the testing ‘Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive’. For the uninitiated but open-minded, ‘Goodbye Blackbird’ and ‘Get Yourself Another Fool’ are particularly beautiful, regardless of familiarity with original. However, what’s clear here is a man contentedly smiling through childhood songs that continue to be integral to his musical DNA, who probably doesn’t care what any of us think.
In a nutshell: Nostalgic, sugary performances, recommended only for purists, or your local Starbucks.
Artist: Lana Del Rey
Before her album Born to Die was even released, sultry songstress Lana Del Rey experienced an internet backlash like no other artist in recent times. Formally known as Lizzie Grant, her first attempt at musical stardom was a flop. Now with a new image as carefully constructed as her name, Del Rey has shot straight into the media limelight.
But does Born to Die live up to the hype? It certainly follows the same template set by pre-released tracks ‘Video Games’ and ‘Blue Jeans’. This combination of soaring strings and Del Rey’s crooning voice can become slightly tedious after 15 tracks. Del Rey has evidently discovered a sound that would gain her recognition and has been very careful not to move too far away from it, which results in a distinct lack of variety on the album. However, most of the tracks fail to achieve the alluring heights of ‘Video Games’ and cannot replicate its charm and surreal, timeless vibe.
Most tracks follow a familiar love-struck theme. ‘This is What Makes us Girls’ deviates from this slightly to tell the tale of a young Del Rey’s misbehaviour while ‘Dark Paradise’ conveys the darker tones on the album. It’s a record that maintains a consistent feel by sacrificing having more than a small number of standout tracks.
In a nutshell: A decent debut with some catchy tunes that rarely shifts from Del Rey’s familiar sound
Artist: Young Guns
Following in the footsteps of their touring counterparts and fellow British post-hardcore rockers Enter Shikari, Young Guns have followed up months of successful touring with an album made in Thailand. Upon first listen, it instantly appeals to the large and booming acoustics of the stadium. The Buckingham quartet opens nicely, with track ‘I Was Born’ and titular single ‘Bones’ offering good instrumentals, plus some overarching vocals from lead singer Gustav Wood. By the end however, anything meaningful seems to have been said seems to have been drowned out by the bands “concert appeal” approach.
Young Guns at least do seem to have found a band ethos, and musically this is a decent body of work. Unfortunately its rough around the edges feel just doesn’t seem to feel right juxtaposed with its grandiose ambitions. Ultimately, they are a young band, and this album offers promise to a band who have everything in place to become a staple of the festival scene.
In a nutshell: Capable of much more