Music: CD Reviews

 
 

Album of the fortnight

Artist: Bibio

Album: Mind Bokeh

Rating: 4/5

Although his name may sound like that of a character from a kid’s TV show, Bibio’s wholly electronic, yet somehow genre-defying musical offerings are far from juvenile; and his sixth album, Mind Bokeh, is no exception.

It is a departure from his recent records, such as the acclaimed Ambivalence Avenue, as it heads in a far more hip-hop inspired direction as witnessed on one of the album’s stand-out tracks, ‘Anything New’.

A few pop touches are thrown in as well to lighten things up a bit – which may not go down well with his original fans. However, for O-two it all comes together in an inspiring mixtape sort of way. For those of you who enjoy a synth-twist to some laid-back beats, check this out.

In a nutshell: You don’t have to be a hipster to listen to this, but it helps.

– Sophie Lioe

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Artist: The Chapman Family

Album: Burn Your Town

Rating: 3/5

Burn Your Town is something of a violent assault on your eardrums the first time you listen to it. Intense is not the word. Eerie vocals and heavy use of the glockenspiel create some semblance of suspense in opening track ‘A Certain Degree’, before a thoroughly angst-ridden punk-metal follow-up in ‘All Fall’.

The album starts to suffer a little in the middle with ‘1000 lies’ and ‘She Didn’t Know’, which just seem somewhat lacking. The penultimate track ‘Million Dollars’ is the standout on the album; Suitably dark (considering it’s about killing children) and full of rhythmic guitars and pounding drums with a slight synth overload, it would be an excellent close to the album. Unfortunately the actual closing track, ‘Virgins (Reprise)’ just can’t follow it, resulting in a somewhat anticlimactic end.

In a Nutshell: Needs a couple of listens before it stops feeling like an attack on your senses.

– Aoife Valentine

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Artist: Young Knives

Album: Ornaments from the Silver Arcade

Rating: 3/5

Young Knives may have a reputation as the musical equivalent of Mark from Peep Show, but on their third album, Ornaments from the Silver Arcade, the Ashby-de-la-Zouch trio have branched out more than ever.

With its nifty staccato guitar and steel drums, ‘Woman’ is an ironic, lavish novelty that audaciously toys with Young Knives’ buttoned-down image. Whilst the smorgasbord of tones and styles presented by ‘Silver Tongue’ and ‘Storm Clouds’ present a brilliant digression from their usual palette.

A raft of more characteristic indie-pop songs tempers the album’s experimental moments. Although ‘Love My Name’ and ‘Human Again’ evolve into alert and memorable tunes, ‘Vision in Rags’ numbers among a few tracks that fail to transcend generic indie disco fodder.

Ornaments from the Silver Arcade proves that while their angular, uptight stylings are growing old, Young Knives can still excel when they venture outside their template.

In a nutshell: Not quite Super Hans, but adventurous enough to entertain.

– George Morahan

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Artist: The Strokes

Album: Angles

Rating: 2/5

Until recently, O-two had assumed that The Strokes had forever retreated to their achingly cool Manhattan apartments and become mythical creatures that would only ever be seen on T-shirts and old MTV clips. Alas, after a five-year hiatus, they have indeed returned with Angles, an album that only continues the creative decline that began with 2006’s First Impressions of Earth.

While the band’s debut album, Is This It, may have instantly cemented The Strokes’ status as indie darlings, Angles fails to add anything new or exciting to the band’s repertoire. Songs such as ‘Call Me Back’ and ‘Gratisfaction’ will leave the listener baffled as to how it all went so wrong.

While the album contains semblances of the old magic, they are difficult to find, hidden amongst obscure guitar solos and barely comprehensible lyrics. ‘Games’ is sadly one of the few reminders of the New Yorkers former brilliance.

Angles gets better with further listening. Whether this improvement warrants your time is highly doubtful.

In a nutshell: A disappointment from a once-iconic band.

– Anna Burzlaff

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Artist: Matt & Kim

Album: Sidewalks

Rating: 3/5

Pop music used to be made to be popular: that was the point. But Brooklyn synth-pop duo Matt & Kim are a new type of independent pop musician. Whereas independent acts once made brave sounds that had no hope of cracking the mainstream, they are now just creating slightly more complex versions of Top 40 music, fetishising and improving on pop.

There’s not a lot to hate on Matt & Kim’s third album. Maybe that’s why there’s so little to like. The songs all have the sugar-rush melodies of a pop-punk track, with all the rhythm of a hip-hop track. Yet, they lack the immediacy that makes pop music so great. The lyrics are often too wordy and cerebral. The synth work, while inventive, doesn’t sit too comfortably here. Still, it’s a solid effort at creating pop that doesn’t dumb itself to down to sell, despite its flaws.

In a nutshell: Pop for people who don’t like pop.

– Cormac Duffy

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