Low – ‘Double Negative’
Low celebrate their 25th year as a band with their 12th studio album, which could well be one of their best ever.
The Duluth, Minnesota trio have always been an enigma, right down to their humble hometown, but more importantly, they have consistently maintained a sound that sounds unlike anything else, despite being attributed the term ‘slowcore’ many years ago. Regardless, their uncompromisingly dark and atmospheric sound has been accompanying long autumnal and wintery walks for a whole generation of music fans now for a quarter decade, with a consistency that has never really let up in that time.
What a thrill it is, then, to receive new music from Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker and Steve Garrington which has completely reimagined what one has come to expect from the band Low. Some credit must go to Justin Vernon’s right-hand man BJ Burton, the Bon Iver producer once again working with Low after teasing this sonic turn on their last album Ones and Sixes. But what was a hint there is a full blown aural explosion here, as Burton sucks Low‘s songs through a vacuum to create the negative space espoused in the album’s title to reveal a newfound delicacy to the band’s already highly intimate sound; the result is thrilling. (Adam Turner-Heffer)
Jungle – ‘For Ever’
The hype continues: four years after their celebrated debut album Jungle return with another smooth record.
It’s already been four years since the release of Jungle‘s pretty hyped self-titled debut record. This week the two British guys finally come around the corner with a new album called For Ever. And the band really manages to continue the hype they created four years ago – just like its predecessor, For Ever ranks one catchy hit after the other. The album feels like a natural development of the band’s groovy and unique sound, invented four years ago. But this time it’s even more elaborated: the music and the vocals vary much more. Maybe this is due to the fact that the two friends experienced some life-changing events during the last four years. They toured as a DJ duo, Josh moved from London to Los Angeles; fell in love with a girl to break up with her and go back to London to record the songs with bandmate Tom. Although Josh returned to London to finish the album, the songs are definitely shaped by his sunny life at the coast: happy vibes meet lyrics that deal with living in California (e.g. Heavy, California or House in LA).
Luckily they got producer Inflo on board (known for working with Michael Kiwanuka) with whom they recorded their songs outside their home studio – probably another fact that influenced the diverse sound of For Ever. They also met some other producers like Nigel Godrich or Danger Mouse to find inspiration for the new album. The two talented guys call their new music ‘post-apocalyptic radio station playing break up songs’ what describes For Evers sound pretty good: happy and catchy music that lift you up after having experienced a break up or something similar. With For Ever Jungle show again that they are great musicians who exactly know how to create well-crafted but nevertheless catchy music. (Miriam Wallbaum)
We Were Promised Jetpacks – ‘The More I Sleep, The Less I Dream’
The once so careless indie rock of We Were Promised Jetpacks has grown up and confidently rests in itself; something that suits these lads very well.
It’s not like the adolescence of beloved Scotsmen We Were Promised Jetpacks came over night. 2014s Unravelling already pointed into directions that their fourth full-length, The More I Sleep The Less I Dream, now decisively moves towards. As the four-piece told us ahead of its release, this record has been a rather difficult one to make. One has to understand that this band is a band of brothers nearly; sticking together since they won their first battle of the bands in school. They slided into a position in which they almost instantly were lucky enough to make a living off their music; without the real perspective of a huge breakthrough though. Now that they’ve all entered their thirties, the doubts kick in: Where are we heading, should we try harder? The More I Sleep The Less I Dream is both, the ultimate result of those doubts and, simultaneously, a deliberate attempt to not give a fuck.
Apparent is how We Were Promised Jetpacks still got it in them to write anthemic indie rock songs with that typical Scottish melancholy woven in. It’s their trademark and songs like Someone Else’s Problem or Hanging In are strong statements, though they might not be new Quiet Little Voices. But frankly, there’s no need for that. ‘I told you not to listen / Now I’m someone else’s problem / And the weight is off your shoulders’, sings Adam Thompson and one almost physically feels the relief. Repeating Patterns is a typical Jetpacks-track in the sense that it’s written for the stage. The following and closing title track though is a pretty restive beast meandering between krauty contemplation and noisy outbursts. These ten tracks are refined but heady, calmer but still restless. In the end, none of us ever really grow up. The More I Sleep The Less I Dream is how that sounds. (Henning Grabow)
Pale Waves – ‘My Mind Makes Noises’
Manchester’s latest musical buzz finally releases a full album packed with their old-fashioned high gloss pop. Consider your next prom night saved.
What defines a good pop song? Is it a catchy hook, the instant accessibility, the relatable lyrics or a combination of everything? Generations of pop historians tried to figure it out and there might even be a scientific answer by now but sometimes it’s simply a question of whether it feels good for you. I’m saying this because when we talk about Pale Waves you have to be aware of that. There are clever promoters and media who try to label the British four-piece as ‘indie’ or even ‘new wave’ when the answer is way simpler: they are as pop as pop music can be! Founded by distinctive guitarist Heather Baron-Gracie and drummer Ciara Doran their mutual obsession for shiny pop from the 80s and 90s became the driving force behind this latest success story of UK pop. Countless singles and a really good debut EP later the band’s first full-length delivers everything you’ve come to love (or hate) about Pale Waves. My Mind Makes Noises is a high-gloss ‘over the top’ pop extravaganza that feels a bit as if Katy Perry and Taylor Swift decided to record an album packed with 80s pop references – from Duran Duran to The Cure and Roxette.
Pale Waves take no detours; they’re getting directly to the point. Eighteen, There’s A Honey and Noises start the record as straight-forward instant hits. The pumping Came In Close and Drive even speed up the tempo with their pumping basslines and that almost offensive upbeat vibe. Baron-Gracie sings about heartbreak in a cinematic way. Don’t expect too much depth in here, folks. Sometimes things are clearly overstep the line of cheesiness (One More Time, Red) but sometimes there are just really brilliant pop compositions in here, like Television Romance, the Cure-referencing Kiss and the lovely power ballad When Did I Loose It All. Pale Waves partly overdo the whole retro affair and simply overload the original character of these very well written songs. I mean, that’s what this band is all about. A bit less might have been better every here and now but when everything’s loaded with an existential meaning why slowing down in any form, right? The closing ballad Karl however shows a more reduced and acoustic side of the band which might be a fascinating path to explore in the future. For a first impact Pale Waves meet their target by miles. (Norman Fleischer)
Fenster – ‘The Room’
The forth full-length from the Berlin-based band continues their stubborn path in the most chilling way.
Giving The Room just a quick dry makes it needless to say that you simply have to love these guys and the exqusite material they deliver with every record. In 2015, their last album Emocean became the soundtrack for a whole kind-of-scince-fiction movie, produced by the band itself. Listening to their newest one, three years later, it still feels as if space is the place where these sounds where conceived, played and recorded.
So imagine The Room, which is not just the album’s title but also reference to its collective recording and writing process, as a space ship’s cabin, floating through the galaxy. It’s like, if 60s rock flavoured indie pop was the planet they came from, they’ve already entered a new one. And there’s still enough fuel in the tank to take it further, no matter if going to cross funk, jazz, soft rock or folk. Overall The Room indeed sounds like pop music, but with that little outer space flavour that makes you feel safe in that weird wide world out there. Fenster‘s new record is made of warm and twangy guitars, dippin’ basslines and gently marching drums. Long instrumental parts get their stage, mumbling voices and lovely choir parts do the rest. Getting lost in this bunch of beautiful songs is as easy as loosing your sleep while watching movies after midnight. There’s something that keeps you wide awake, but enough humbleness to make you addictively watching and listening. (Stefan Ibrahim)