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Paloma Faith is a former burlesque dancer and magician’s assistant who’s also worked as a shopgirl-cum- model at the Soho branch of Agent Provocateur. As an actress, she played ‘Andrea, the Emo’ in the first St Trinian’s reboot. And of course, she’s a recording artist whose debut album Do You Want The Truth Or Something Beautiful? went platinum back in 2010. Fall To Grace sounds like Faith’s game-changing album. It’s got epic ballads like lead single ‘Picking Up The Pieces’, and she isn’t fibbing when she calls it “cinematic”, but there’s some variety here too. ‘30-Minute Love Affair’ is Annie Lennox-style synth-pop. ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears’ takes Faith to the disco. ‘Agony’ sounds a bit like Tori Amos covering The Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’. Of course, partial credit goes to experienced producer Nellee

Hooper (Madonna, Björk, No Doubt), whom Faith calls the “interpreter” of her musical ideas. He keeps things sounding cool, creative and cashmere-classy, but Faith matches him with some terrific vocal performances and songs which combat relationships of the “It’s complicated…” ilk. “There’s no one else in this world that I’d rather be unhappy with,” isn’t a line one hears on a Saturdays track. Admittedly, there’s a slip in quality at the finish. ‘Let Your Love In’ flirts with Leona-style blandness, while closing number ‘Streets of Glory’ smacks of emotional bluster where the previous eleven songs just felt honest. But it’s not enough to stop Fall To Grace from being a rare and beautiful beast - the

completely non-boring adult pop album. Now, does that sound very “wacky” to you? NL Out: May 28


Saint Etienne’s first new album in seven years, the aptly titled Words and Music by Saint Etienne is, as band member Bob Stanley describes, an album about “how music affects your life. How it defines the way you see the world as a child, how it can get you through bad times in unexpected way…”. This ethos is summed up on the opening track, ‘Over The Border’ – a gorgeous, shimmering pop confection that finds singer Sarah Cracknell nostalgically talking about her childhood love of music. It’s full of longing, pathos and beauty –the band’s own ‘Being Boring’. It anchors a strong first half, with other nuggets including ‘I’ve Got Your Music’ and the laid back soul groove of ‘Last Days Of Disco’. ‘I Threw It All Away’ provides a late highlight – a unusually pessimistic ballad of regret, with a 60s cinematic feel that harks back to past glory: ‘Nothing Can Stop Us’. DH Out: 21 May

like that.” Naturally, I wouldn’t argue back even if I wanted to. But Manson’s recommendation makes sense. Not Your Kind of People, the band’s first new material since 2005, opens with a fist-pumper called ‘Automatic Systematic Habit’ and never looks back. All the familiar Garbage motifs are here: rock guitars spooning dance beats, quiet/loud dynamic shifts, swirling ballads, nifty bits of studio trickery, and enough bad romance to make Lady Gaga feel like an imposter. Hell, there’s even a song called ‘I Hate Love’. Both grungy and glossy, there’s little here that these 90s survivors haven’t tried before. The only question is what to pick up first: the rental car, or that thigh-squeezing companion? NL Out: May 14




The other day, I tweeted that I was listening to the new Garbage album while cooking a fry-up: hey, sometimes muesli just won’t do. A few hours later, I got a response from the band’s flame-haired frontwoman, Shirley Manson herself. “Hmm, not bad,” she mused, “But I prefer my new Garbage album in a fast car, on an open road, with a man’s hand on my thigh. Try it

They say that if you work for long enough at your dream you’ll eventually achieve it, and Ian Astbury seems to be living proof of that. Having spent the bulk of his career wishing he was Jim Morrison, he was asked in 2002 by former Doors members Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek to front their reformed incarnation of the band! Now he’s back with old bandmate Billy Duffy and a new Cult album – their ninth outing together (give or take the odd hissy fit and reunion), and their first in five years. If Astbury has finally exorcised his Morrison obsession, Choice of Weapon still find the band doing what they do best – recruiting producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Bush) to help them craft a classic rock album that wears its influences proudly on its black leather sleeve: The Stooges, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and, yes, The Doors again. The brooding, anthemic ‘Elemental Light’ finds Duffy doing that sitar-sounding guitar effect that the band have made their own, while ‘Life > Death’ finds Astbury ditching Morrison in favour of an uncanny, Scary Monsters-era Bowie. Given they’ve been knocking around for 30 years now, Choice of Weapon is far more energetic and unbridled than you might expect, even if it slips into Spinal Tap territory towards its closing. This Cult might recruit a few new followers yet… DH Out: 21 May



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