With the new year came a new slew of album releases. Seeing as we are only able to review two new releases a month, we miss out on talking about some great records. January was no exception to this, so rather than pass up on the chance to reflect on some fine music, here are my honourable mentions.
Ty Segall // Emotional Mugger
Ty Segall returns with a new album, which continues to brazenly show off a reverb soaked, hard panned, gritty, guitar-filled ’60s vibe. It makes for a fun listen and manages to add something fresh to the mix despite the clear influences it takes its cues from. The instrumentation across the album works well, keeping the listener captivated and letting loose with glitchy, synth distortion, and guitar solos aplenty. Segall’s vocals fit the ’60s aesthetic perfectly, coming drenched in reverb and chorus and flying all over the stereo field as the album progresses. This is no truer anywhere more than in the penultimate track “W.U.O.T.W.S.”, where headphone listening almost feels mandatory. Ty Segall has done a good job here. White Stripes and Black Keys lovers will enjoy this for a more intense, heavy shot of lo-fi rock.
Daughter // Not To Disappear
Daughter’s latest release comes three years after their debut If You Leave, which was met with positive reviews. Not To Disappear continues with rolling, ethereal indie folk, building delicately on the previous album with a more substantial sound. Elena Tonra, whose vocals ring out seemingly endlessly across each track, doesn’t have the most optimistic view on the world, but her soft, breathy delivery fits the clean guitar and percussion instrumental combination very well—while otherworldly synths make a prominent appearance across the album alongside them. Tracks like “Alone/With You” and “No Care” begin to sound unmistakably close to chilled house music at times, sparking listener interest, before abruptly slowing to a close.
Not To Disappear is a worthwhile album for The XX and Ben Howard fans, but could easily be the soundtrack to a chilled session of work or relaxation for fans of electronica.
Mystery Jets // Curve Of The Earth
Mystery Jets’ fifth studio release sees a departure from earlier works, opting instead for a reverb heavy, silky, space-bound aesthetic to match the album cover. This sometimes works well, with tracks like “Bubblegum” sounding like Mystery Jets of old with some inspiration from the likes of U2, while at other times it can teeter on the line of sounding like other, blander pop acts. However, tracks like “Saturnine” and “Midnight’s Mirror” make up for this with catchy hooks to reassure listeners, pulling out nicely toned guitar solos as the icing on the cake. The album picks up by the second half, with some heavier guitar work interspersing the twinkling, clean guitar and leading organ in “Taken By The Tide” and “Saturnine”. The latter warrans a second mention as a psych influenced peak in the album.
It’s a more pensive record than we’ve seen previously from Mystery Jets, and there’s nothing as energetic or immediately memorable as “Two Doors Down”, but fans of the band shouldn’t be disappointed, and for the uninitiated this may make for an easier entry point if previous offerings haven’t quite clicked.
Bloc Party // Hymns
This first release from Bloc Party since a hiatus and band member reshuffle takes its lead from Four, the group’s previous album. Hymns has a live instrument focus for the majority of its tracklist, “Fortress” being the exception, which is reminiscent of The XX in instrumentation and cold atmosphere. The entire album has a clear change in pace, the agitated guitar and drum patterns replaced by simple, mid-tempo’d beats and considered guitar riffs that sometimes sound much closer to Californian rock than tetchy electro, and provide more space for Kele Okereke’s vocals. Synths still line the album though, especially noticeably in the single track and opener, “The Love Within”.
A fair way away from the Bloc Party of the 2000s, Hymns is set to divide opinion. The band is clearly refocussing after the transition of the last three years, and unfortunately both lyrical and instrumental content has taken a hit in places. However, open-minded fans of the band and indie rock lovers alike will likely still enjoy this album.