james debate
james debate

Tuesday 24 May 2011

It's sad but true, I'm a busy man. I don't have anywhere near the amount of time I used to for writing on this blog, and so I need to get creative. Behold: the birth of the mini-reviews!

What follows is a burst of quick and succinct album reviews that I feel are worth noting, but for which I frankly don't have the time to give full reviews. I'll link to key songs in the text of each review. Enjoy!

Collapse Into Now - R.E.M.
Genre Alternative Rock

rem collapse into nowIt's hard to believe that R.E.M. have been around for thirty years, but over that time they have forged their status as one of the iconic American rock bands. Despite this, their recent work has been pretty poor, as those who suffered through 2008's Accelerate will remember.

Well their newest offering makes it quite clear that Michael Stipe and co have still got it, marking a return to their best. The new tracks owe much to vintage R.E.M., with the likes of ƜBerlin showcasing the band at their energetic best, while songs like Every Day is Yours To Win strike the more somber notes that R.E.M. have been known to use.

Ultimately, Collapse into Now is a return to form for the band and arguable their best work in a decade.

Last Night on Earth - Noah and the Whale
Genre Alternative Folk

noah and the whale last night on earthOn the other hand we have here a relatively unknown band that has received many plaudits from their take on the genre of vaguely folkish, heavily accented, brit-rock that is proving all the rage on these Isles of Britain.

I must say I've never been a fan of Noah and the Whale aside from the odd song here or there, but their newest album takes the band to a whole new level, and they deserve all the chart and critical success they have been receiving. Peppered with decent pop songs, the absolute highlights include the tempered and beautifully paced Wild Thing which channels Coldplay from back in their pre-stadium rock golden days, and the wonderfully playful Just Me Before We Met.

Certainly the best work the band has done so far, and some damn fine songs for your enjoyment.

Passive Me, Aggressive You - The Naked and Famous
Genre Dance-Rock

naked and famous passive me aggressive youThe Naked and Famous were one of the more hotly tipped debut acts of 2011 following the breakout success of their shimmering hit single Young Blood, but their final album suffers from inconsistency and a lack of musical identity.

Unfortunately most of the album opts for a distinct brand of amelodic punk pretension, which really isn't too pleasant on the ears even after multiple listens. However their is salvation with the odd gem contained within, notably the aforementioned Young Blood, but with honorable mention going to the 80s dream-pop tinged Eyes which gets better with each listen.

Unfortunately, two or three good songs out of thirteen does not make an album, no matter how good those songs are.

Submarine (Soundtrack) - Alex Turner
Genre Soundtrack

alex turner submarineLastly, we have the latest project from Arctic Monkeys and Last Shadow Puppets frontman Alex Turner. This solo work makes up the soundtrack of the excellent British comedy Submarine, and while I don't normally review soundtracks, the original music here more than warrants it.

As anyone who remembers Turner's briefly lived side project Last Shadow Puppets will tell you, this is a talented man, with so much more to offer than the often pedestrian fare from Arctic Monkeys. This newest work harkens back to the retro sound of Shadow Puppets and the results are equally tantalizing. The highlight here is the magnificent and reflective Stuck on the Puzzle, while the almost psychedelic string-laden Piledriver Waltz proves equally memorable.

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