Artist: Rizzle Kicks
Album: Roaring Twenties
It ain’t easy being a music snob but every now and again you find an album that you just can’t help but like. On first play ‘Put Your Twos up’ and ‘That’s Classic’ hark back to the cheeky chappy, short and sweet little gems. They have some sharp lines, and some dance-inducing melodies like that of ‘Skip to the Good Bit’. Maybe my hormones are taking over here, but the cute little ditties to be found in ‘The Reason I Live’ and ‘I Love You More’ make it easy to see how they and everyone’s guilty pleasure, Olly Murs, worked well together. While Roaring Twenties is clearly a maturing testament to Brighton’s Brit School duo, they have kept the trumpets, the healthy blend of soul, ska, RnB and, of course, pop.
Final word: Perfect to listen to while hula-hooping.
Artist: Aluna George
Album: Body Music
English electronic duo, Aluna Francis are on the rise with singles such as ‘Your Drums, Your Love’ and have successfully blended pop and RnB in their debut album Body Music.
Aluna’s vocals which are similar to Ellie Goulding are sweet and soulful and provide a relaxing side to the more sinister electronic music. The duo experiment throughout and, the product, although not extremely exciting, works. Tracks to listen to on the album are ‘You Know You Like It’ ‘Diver’ and ‘Your Drums ,Your Love.’
Final word: Perfect for your elevator at home.
Artist: Bloc Party
Four sees Block Party return to the guitar-based sound they favoured early in their career while still drawing from electronic influences .
Album opener, ‘So He Begins to Lie’ harks back to their angular, art-rock sound. Heavier tracks such as ‘3×3’ and ‘We Are Not Good People,’ are juxtaposed by the softness and melody of ‘Real Talk.’ Meanwhile, ‘Kettling’ is an overtly political track.
Four gives us a rounded history of Bloc Party so far. ‘V.A.L.I.S’ reminds us of the Silent Alarm era, ‘The Healing’ wouldn’t sound out of place on A Weekend in the City and the last remaining dregs of the ‘Intimacy’ era can be heard on Octopus. While it lacks the innovation of Intimacy, it’s welcome new material from the band.
Final word: Some old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
It is with the help of a variety of vocalists that there is a clear distinction between songs on this album. However, if it were not for these vocalists, this might have been just another dance album which would be tossed aside without hesitation. ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ has a slow pulsating beat which could be overlooked at first. The track, performed by London Grammar, may never be released to the club scene but does show how diverse the band can be.
As with all albums, there are songs which let down the overall work. Tracks such as ‘Grab Her!’ and ‘Stimulation’ lack the stick-in-your-head quality which has made the band such a success. They feel somehow disconnected and could definitely be skipped over without feeling you’re missing much.
Final word: This is definitely the album to blast before a night out.
– Rachel Daly
Artist: John Mayer
Album: Paradise Valley
John Mayer’s sixth studio album record is one long ode to Americana, filled with country-folk standards and steel guitar. Mayer’s melodies are simple and sweet, and the album has plenty of soft, summery rock tracks like ‘You’re No One ‘Til Someone Lets You Down’ and ‘Wildfire’ to add to a feelgood playlist.
Although Mayer has learned the hard way to keep his love life separate from his music, one can’t help but wonder if ‘Paper Doll’ is a response to old flame Taylor Swift’s ‘Dear John’ – especially when he describes the girl in question as “22 girls in one.”
Mayer’s latest ex Katy Perry makes a nicely understated appearance on ‘Who You Love,’ and Frank Ocean sings on the haunting ‘Wildfire.’
Paradise Valley may not be destined for huge amounts of airplay, but it’s a fine effort from a talented songwriter.
Final word: Not quite paradise but it’ll do.