Fat White Family – ‘Serfs Up!’
Fat White Family have been pretty much known for singing about Nazis, bombing Disneyland or (bad) sex and infamous drug excesses . While Saul Adamczeswki departed the band to abandon Heroin, and work on his new project Insecure Men, the Family has been quite busy releasing music with spin-offs Warmduscher, Moonlandingz or Decius. Eventually, the band followed Nathan Saoudi to record new material in Sheffield, and Adamczweski was invited to join in.
For their result – their third and first record through Domino – the hair’s got sleeked back for a new era of mischief and mayhem. Indeed, Serfs Up doesn’t sound much like their previous two records Champagne Holocaust and Songs For Our Mothers. The first single and opener Feet mixtures lyrics drawn into erotic poetry, and epic instrumentation which couldn’t be less dramatic. While laid-back lo-fi charm of Vagina Dentata satisfies with Alex White’s genuine saxophone solo, Kim’s Sunset proves to be a suave satire hinted onto the North-Korean leader. The most outstanding track on Serfs Up happens to be Fringe Runner though which turns the energetic chaos of the South-Londoners into a sleek 80s Funk anthem. Tastes Good With The Money surprises with a cameo-appearance by Baxter Dury, philosophizing about the apocalypse. While the track opens with Gregorian-like chants, Saoudi promises We could be home owners, this time next year. Who knows, with Serfs Up the former house-squatters are much closer to real estate than before. After making headlines with feuding with both IDLES and Sleaford Mods, the band proves with Serfs Up that they’re still more experimental, provocative and risqué than their rivals. (Louisa Zimmer)
The Tallest Man On Earth – ‘I Love You, It’s A Fever Dream’
After four years without putting out any new music, The Tallest Man on Earth is back. Hiding behind the title, is the Swedish singer and songwriter Kristian Matsson. His latest record I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream. sounds much less fiery than implied, but revives the artist’s folk and American roots. Returning to guitar and voice, after having discovered various new tools on the last album, Matsson takes on the role that was practically written for him; the vagabond, the solitary traveler accompanied only by his guitar.
Settle in for some widow-gazing travel folk shifting between homesickness and aching for the remotest places of the planet. The opener Hotel Bar is a fingerpicking finesse. Accompanied by scene-setting footsteps we find ourselves in a lonely bar sipping on a half empty glass of whiskey. A single horn sparkles through the mix of nostalgic guitar notes and introduces a glimmer of hope in the mist of melancholia. Whereas the previous Tallest Man on Earth records seemed more like tales from a well-traveled man, this LP appears to be knitted closer to the musician’s heart. On the single I’ll Be A Sky he sings of staying close to the loved ones even when one might physically be somewhere else. The single bursts into an incredibly emotive chorus. ‘I travel the clouds of my mistakes’ simultaneously paints an image of a mystical world and makes the aches of the singer relatable. I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream. is a folk record laden with emotion and passion of a musician who has a unique view onto the world we live in, and himself – a view worth sharing, especially if it is combined with excellent instrumentation highlighting the message of each song, whether sad or happy, or somewhere in between. (Liv Toerkell)
Lizzo – ‘Cuz I Love You’
Although it feels as if Melissa Viviane Jefferson and her alter ego Lizzo suddenly came out of nothing she’s been actually active for almost a decade. Cuz I Love You is already her third full-length but it does feel as if took a moment for all the stars to line up and gave that big girl the big momentum she deserves. Lizzo‘s third album is a testament of confidence, independency and artistic stubbornness. Every second of this urban pop hurricane of an album is loaded with self-esteem and also a musical middle finger to all the haters. Whether it’s bodyshaming, LGBTQ rights, female empowerment or other important issues – Lizzo tells it like it is and couldn’t care less about anybody’s opinion. That also goes for those who’d like to put her into one specific musical category. B*tch, that’s not going to happen. The title-track opens the record as a theatrical glam rock monster before Like A Girl gets its groove on. The omnipresent hit single Juice delivers finest disco pop before Cry Baby takes a turn towards 80s E-Funk.
Well, and only a few minutes later you get Tempo, a nice tribute to early 00s Neptunes/Timbaland-produced hip hop, including an appearance by Missy Elliot herself. It’s a dancefloor anthem for all other big girls because ‘slow songs are for skinny hoes’. You tell them, gurl! Lizzo constantly switches between tight raps, soulful roars and sensual singing as if it is the easiest thing to do. Cuz I Love You is not just a simple rap or pop record, it’s a clash of black music history in which a cheesy guitar solo can go hand in hand with a contemporary trap beat and a gospel choir (Heaven Help Me). Yes, the hooks are catchy and the production is slick but there is a great sense of musicality that shines through the entire record. The Prince-channelling funk tune Exactly How I Feel is a great example for that. Jefferson carries this album with her shear presence, delivering some of 2019’s catchiest pop tunes so far. The message, the music, the melodies – everything comes together to celebrate life as one big party to show the haters who really got the juice here. (Norman Fleischer)
Jade Bird – ‘Jade Bird’
Jade Bird has been haunting my YouTube start page with official videos and live performances of singles from the forthcoming album. Now the teasing is finally over. Jade Bird’s self-titled LP is the debut of a singer who has set the sky as her limit. With soaring vocals and a message behind each song, the blonde draws you in from the first moment. This record is not just a superficial collection of commercialized songwriting, but a highly personal insight into the struggles and successes of a young woman.
The lead single Lottery has echoed up and down several radio stations and playlists already, still the powerful vocals never fail to draw attention with their eruptions of emotion. Some Americana elements and folky guitar strums form the wave for Jade Bird’s voice to ride on, singing of the emotional strain of remaining friends with a former flame. The equally emotive I Get No Joy shifts towards angry ballad, accompanied by the well-suited video of the singer repeatedly crashing a car at the instructions of the ruthless video crew. Each song is backed by the singer’s expression of her most intimate feelings. This is one reason why the music of this young lady is so attractive. The musician found an outlet for emotions many struggle with unable to express them. On her album Jade Bird sings, whispers, shouts, and cries out her deepest feelings creating a ferocious thunder of bold rawness, while keeping up her dazzling charm on witty tracks like the energetic rock anthem Uh Huh. The gentler ballads towards the end of the album give it a slightly melancholic fade out, striking up existential topics like heartbreak and death. However Jade Bird’s debut album is a heartfelt roller-coaster ride of emotions and highly infectious. (Liv Toerkell)
Kelsey Lu – ‘Blood’
After already working with Sampha, Blood Orange and Moses Sumney it was about time for Kelsey Lu to step into the limelight although it feels as if she prefers to stay in the shadows anyway. The trained cellist and her debut album Blood aren’t aiming for stardom, instead the American artist delivers profound musicality that happens to produce pop hits by accident. Due West, a co-production with Skrillex, is a perfect example here and so is the gently grooving Poor Fake but they remain exceptions. For the majority of its duration Blood feels like a nocturnal attempt to mix classical avant-garde music with soul and R&B. It’s a brave challenge but Kelsey Lu and her list of friends and collaborators managed to create something truly unique out of it. Most of the time, Blood partly feels like a mysterious and cinematic soundtrack to a yet-to-be-produced film. Why Knock For You, partly produced by Jamie xx, can’t shake off certain Björk reminiscences, for example.
This unusual set-up, that always sees the artist’s cello popping up, creates haunting beauty and really gives her idea alternative R&B a more abstract approach. Kelsey Lu‘s contemporary chamber pop approach challenges the listener and that’s really where the fun begins. Surprises wait around every corner and her meditative cover of the 10cc evergreen I’m Not In Love is just one of those. Just like Solange and Dev Hynes Kelsey Lu represents a new generation of musicians that isn’t afraid to mix black music culture with a more experimental nature that reaches far beyond usual genre limitations. Blood is a wonderful invitation to dive deep into this new self-understanding, it’s a record that needs your full attention but also ultimately rewards you once you allow yourself to experience it. (Norman Fleischer)