Rock/Pop

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS -

FU­TURE IS­LANDS The Far Field ★★★ 4AD

Few bands de­served a break more than this hard­work­ing Baltimore trio. It fi­nally came with their 2014 sin­gle Sea­sons

(Wait­ing on You), a re­mark­able chunk of synth-ad­dled pas­sion in the form of a four-minute sub-pop song. Sam Her­ring & co needed to de­liver the goods with al­bum No 5 and, for the most part, The Far Field tri­umphs de­spite the lack of any sense of mu­si­cal ad­vance­ment. Her­ring’s rich, unique vo­cals re­main Fu­ture Is­land’s USP, in­ject­ing de­spair and melan­choly into even some­thing as in­fec­tious and throb­bing as the dance­floor­ready Cave, while the trop­i­cal

North Star is the clos­est thing to a hit here. Heck, Deb­bie Harry even turns up on the dancey

Shad­ows. It’s good stuff – very good, in fact, though just not defin­ing. Then again, it doesn’t need to be. fu­ture-is­lands.com LAU­REN MUR­PHY

KAREN EL­SON Dou­ble Roses ★★★ 1965 Records

Greater Manch­ester singer, song­writer and model/de­signer Karen El­son may be known as the former wife of US blues/rock devo­tee Jack White, but she has suc­cess­fully man­aged to side­step van­ity-project ac­cu­sa­tions by forg­ing a mod­er­ately successful (and highly sin­gu­lar) record­ing ca­reer. Seven years have passed since her ac­claimed debut al­bum, The

Ghost Who Walks, and this fol­low-up that fur­thers the the­ory that El­son is the Loretta Lynn ver­sion of PJ Har­vey. Gone are the debut’s al­le­gor­i­cal mur­der bal­lads; in their place is a se­ries of British-hued songs (Laura Mar­ling makes a guest ap­pear­ance) that ref­er­ence her thorny break-up from White as well as a broader sense of true grit, loss and ac­cep­tance. Dou­ble

Roses is a deftly de­liv­ered and sub­tle tri­umph. karenel­son.com TONY CLAY­TON-LEA

HAP­PY­NESS Write In ★★★★ Moshi Moshi

First things first: this is prob­a­bly the best al­bum you will hear this year that was made for £500. Lon­don’s Hap­py­ness may have blown most of their budget on “an 8-track tape recorder and a de­hu­mid­i­fier”, but their sec­ond record doesn’t suf­fer from fi­nan­cial pru­dence. The trio pack nu­mer­ous eclec­tic styles and in­flu­ences into this col­lec­tion, from Wilco’s lan­guid jams ( Fall­ing

Down) to The Bea­tles and Randy Newman ( Through Win­dows), Love and The Doors ( Up­trend/ Style Raids) and Beck ( Big­ger

Glass Less Full). Pri­ori­tis­ing melody at ev­ery turn, yet leav­ing enough space to zone out and take in the strummed jan­gles, stoner-rock, fuzzy col­lege in­die and the var­i­ous pi­ano-in­fused tracks, Write In is an ex­er­cise in hit­ting ev­ery base while keep­ing the lis­tener en­gaged. That’s what you call a bar­gain. face­book.com/hap­py­ness­mu­sic LAU­REN MUR­PHY

FOR­MA­TION Look At the Pow­er­ful Peo­ple ★★ Meno/Warner Bros

The pow­er­ful peo­ple, in the view of south Lon­don twins Will and Matt Rit­son, are the peo­ple on the ground as op­posed to the nump­ties at the top. That’s the man­i­festo for what’s clearly in­tended to be a rab­ble-rous­ing debut al­bum ad­dress­ing the is­sues of the times we live in, from Brexit to Trump. Whether said rab­bles will be roused by an al­bum which aims mu­si­cally to set the punk-funk band­wagon of old in mo­tion again is an­other thing en­tirely. There are some mo­ments which thrill, but the clat­ter of cow­bells, saxa­phones and per­cus­sive thump­ing through­out re­mind you that The Rap­ture and LCD Soundsystem did this kind of thing pre­vi­ously with more class and style. For­ma­tion’s angst and ag­gro may be per­fect for these trou­bled times, but the mu­sic seems too in thrall with the past to ring true to­day. face­book.com/ for­ma­tion­mu­sic JIM CAR­ROLL

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