Bootylicious is back
EFFORTLESS, that’s Beyonce.
Four albums into her solo career, the former Destiny’s Child singer has become a near peerless performer.
She can be as weird as Gaga, as nutty as Britney, as quirky as Katy Perry but she doesn’t need to.
What sets her apart is her skill as a torch singer. And it comes easily to her, she’s a natural.
Her contemporaries, if you can call them that, don’t have voices strong enough to command the same level of attention without all the fireworks and meat dresses.
Never one to chase fads, Beyonce is a singer’s singer, cut in the mould of Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey and Aretha Franklin.
It’s never been more evident than 4’ s opening song 1+ 1.
While the rest of the pop R& B world goes silly with gimmicks, Beyonce steps up with a sentimental love song; and it is a slam dunk.
Backed by Prince-like guitars and soft pianos, she sings an empowering ballad that burns slowly. It’s beautiful stuff.
Her voice whispers on I Miss You, a tale of heartache and desire. Her performance is restrained and pitch-perfect, floating over an ambient synth pulse. The song was written with Frank Ocean from alternative hip-hop act Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, completely left field and easily the best song he’s ever had a hand in producing.
Best Thing I Never Had lifts the mood to a happier place with smiling pianos and optimistic lyrics. Triumphant and strong, Beyonce sounds like an artist intimately in touch with her emotions.
Kanye West swaggers into the studio to throw some music and words at a mid-tempo jam dubbed Party. Beyonce’s saucy, cooing vocals blend nicely with Andre 3000’ s cameo.
The Outkast rapper drops a dash of laidback, southern attitude on the track. There are echoes of the late 1970s, early ’ 80s pop-soul here and all three artists wear it well.
All the producers who worked on this album are first-rate hit makers. But it was the contribution by dubstep, hip-hop and reggae guru Diplo that many were keen to hear and End of Time doesn’t disappoint. Its stomping, marching drums and brilliant brass stand out on an album that is packed with great music. Ferocious and passionate.
It would be weird to review this album without mentioning the single Run the World ( Girls). And yet, it’s really not the best song on the album, not even close.
It’s one of very few moments where Beyonce indulges her penchant for bizarre pop sounds. Over the top in every possible way, there’s not much to like about this song except for its energy. It heavily samples Pon de Floor by Major Lazer but adds little to it.
‘‘ But I find it hard to say too much because I don’t want to sound like a d---head. I certainly don’t discourage people from drinking before a show, quite the opposite really.
‘‘ I’m not the most sensible one in the band, that responsibility falls to Anna.’’
Anna Prior not only drums sense into the quartet, she is the percussionist in the effervescent, ever-changing indie pop group.
Oscar Cash handles saxophone, backing vocals and keyboards, Gbenga Adelekan plays bass and backing vocals and Mount does everything else, even produce.
It’s important you get to know them, dear reader, because they will be out here for Falls Festival.
‘‘ We’re definitely playing over New Year,’’ Mount says.
‘‘ We’ve got friends in Melbourne now and favourite little places to go to have barbecues.’’
Australia is fast becoming the third base for Metronomy.
‘‘ Last time we were there the Ashes were on and we were going to bars and feeling a little bit smug that we were winning,’’ he says.
‘‘ We took a tram to a house party in Melbourne, it was a real treat.’’
Metronomy have treated us to three records since forming in 1999.
They debuted with Pip Paine ( Pay The 5000 You Owe) in 2006 then broke through to become cult heroes of industrial punk funk and contrary pop with Nights Out in 2008.
Recorded in Smokehouse Studios in London and Motorbass in Paris, their third album The English Riviera is a neat love letter to Mount’s hometown of Torquay in Devon.
‘‘ Torquay always represents the same thing to me, a nice place with potential,’’ Mount reflects.
The same could have been said about Metronomy, until now.
The first single The Look is one of the singles of the year, an organic organ line opens up a can of earworms when the slowly descending chords settle like Forrest Gump’s feather on your ears as the bass, guitar and drums lock together.
When Remote Control tweeted The Look ’ s film clip a few months ago, bloggers like bigstereo. net went gangbusters.
For many, it was vindication for backing the little band that could.
‘‘ We’ve had a lot of fans that really get the music and try and force it on their friends, even if their friends are resistant. I feel like this album is a nice gift.’’