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It would take a brave man to bet on what a new Bloc Party album might sound like going into 2016. New members + new dynamics + new influences equals? Basically, nobody has a fucking clue.Te Love Withinis definitely in the mold of Kele’s previous solo work. Stomping bass drums, an uplifting chorus and a lot of confusing sounds from instruments you didn’t know existed. Only He Can Heal Me takes shape as a very dark gospel-like track and gives the first of series of many blindingly obvious lyrical clues as to why the album is called Hymns. Te album teams with reference to faith as well as reflective and repentant themes. None more so than in the infectious rock ofTe Good News, ‘Every day, I’ve gone down to the water and I pray’ Kele reflects before launching into a beefy, gospel friendly chorus. Bloc Party have never been a band to stand still and piss in the wind. Its not hard notice a departure from frenetic guitars to an ambient electro theme. So it’s obvious that not every Bloc Party fan will like Hymns. However, much like faith itself, how the album ranks against previous releases is definitely open to interpretation.



Five albums in ten years is a reasonable output for any band, though the Brewis brothers have achieved this in addition to their extra-curricular collaborative and side projects, and have still found time to produce a film soundtrack and put out an album of covers. Plumb, their last 'proper' release got a Mercury Prize nomination three years ago (the year that Alt-J won with An Awesome Wave) and came really close to putting the hard-working Wearsiders onto the big musical map. Commontime continues their tradition of writing about the reality of the mundane, but takes it to another level with a maturity of lyricism and melody construction that reminds of the glory days of 10cc, whilst infusing a funkiness and pace that could have equally come from the hand of David Byrne or Beck. Te openerTe Noisy Days Are Over is a six minute opus to the reality of responsibility.I'm Gladrues on the carefree days of youth andStay Awake ultimately becomes a confessional domestic love song. Together, the tracks onCommontimeconspire to paint a picture that we constantly try to ignore, that time and responsibilities inevitably catch up with us all. Tis is their best album yet.



Canadian singer-songwriter and multi- instrumentalist Basia Bulat is releasing Good Advice, her fourth album, and I’m wondering how I have never heard of her? Her deep, powerful yet tender voice has an amazing range, from gentle soothing melodies to soaring, heartfelt vocal aerobics. Production from Jim James of My Morning Jacket showcases Basia’s (almost) unique voice in a dense, alt-sixties vibe, sparse yet lush. Opening with La La Lie, we get a wall of sound stomper and the scene is set for the end of relationship; OnLong Goodbyeshe sings “And when I hear a goodbye in my mind, I play it again and again then deny it” and who hasn’t blanked the inevitable, only to face it when someone else decides it’s time? During the title track itself, she leaves us to fill in the context “Your good advice, I never asked for it”; perhaps we’ve been made to hear our own shortcomings? Or at least, a friend or lovers’ projection of what they want from you. Tis is an album full of emotion; she plunges into your heart with lyrics that need no interpretation. It is full of heartbreak, delivered joyously, ten songs perfectly arranged around a central theme. With its Gothic northern soul and psychedelic bleakness, I have thoroughly enjoyed this beautiful album.

30 /January 2015/

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