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FANG­CLUB Fang­club ★★★★★ Ver­tigo

Spoiler alert: if Fang­club’s de­but al­bum doesn’t stake its claim as one of the best hard rock al­bums of 2017, then we’ll lis­ten to Ed Sheeran’s Gal­way Girl on a loop for the next five months. It is fit­ting that the north county Dublin band is on a record la­bel that once hosted the likes of Black Sab­bath and Thin Lizzy. Like their best known for­bears, Fang­club have a knack for in­ter­weav­ing gran­ite riffs and melody lines so ex­pertly that it’s dif­fi­cult to avoid be­ing snared by songs as in­vul­ner­a­ble as Bad Words, Bul­let Head, Dream­catcher, Psy­cho and Best Fake Friends. The di­rect­ness of the band’s song­writ­ing ef­fort­lessly catches the at­ten­tion and, aligned with the brevity of the tunes, pro­duces a heady re­sult not heard since the glory days of Nir­vana. Yeah, se­ri­ously – it’s that good. fang­clubof­fi­ TONY CLAY­TON-LEA

GIRL RAY Earl Grey ★★★ Moshi Moshi

In many re­spects, Girl Ray’s de­but al­bum is the sort of record you might ex­pect of three 19-year-old women ob­sessed with lo-fi in­die-pop writ­ing about their lovelorn teenage es­capades. In many oth­ers, it’s pa­tently not. This in­tro­duc­tion to the Lon­don band has a cer­tain dis­arm­ing charm; Poppy Hankin’s wry lyrics and solemn thrum evokes the likes of Belle & Se­bas­tian at their most twee, or the bass and jan­gly gui­tar of sev­eral songs, in­clud­ing

Wait­ing Ages, draw­ing par­al­lels with Or­ange Juice. The 13minute-long multi-part ti­tle track pays tes­ta­ment to their am­bi­tion, but too much of this al­bum re­lies on war­bly basslines, zig-zag­ging or­gan and scratchily strummed stringed in­stru­ments, and it makes for a rather ho­moge­nous col­lec­tion at times. Still, many of these songs show real prom­ise. Let’s see what they do next. face­­ray­lon­don LAU­REN MUR­PHY

WHITEHORSE Pan­ther in the Doll­house ★★ Six Shooter Records

Tax eva­sion and the Cay­man Is­lands aren’t usual sub­jects for a pop song, but Cana­dian hus­band-and-wife duo Luke Doucet and Melissa McClel­land, aka Whitehorse, have found a way to sneak them on to their fourth al­bum. Ex­plor­ing moral­ity, cap­i­tal­ism and sex­ism, this is pop at its preachi­est, but with a sub­tle 1970s soft-rock lean­ing. “I can hear the snif­fles be­hind the door, is it co­caine or heart­break? You never can be sure,” Doucet drones on Gra­cie, show­ing that if they’re not pack­ing a punch, like on Boys Like You or Tro­phy Wife, they can be a bit of a drag. When they switch off the pon­tif­i­ca­tion for a quick sec­ond on Pink

Ki­mono and Nighthawks, their mes­sage becomes de­clut­tered and the mu­sic im­me­di­ately becomes eas­ier to di­gest. white­horse­mu­ LOUISE BRUTON

BRIANA MARELA Call It Love ★★ Jag­jaguwar

Briana Marela’s ob­jec­tive for her fourth al­bum was to cre­ate pairs of songs that com­ple­mented each other; for ev­ery song drowned in am­bi­ent ex­per­i­men­tal­ism, there would be a poppy num­ber to sharpen fo­cus. It’s an ad­mirable plan, but the Seat­tle mu­si­cian doesn’t quite pull it off. Her ex­plo­ration of love and re­la­tion­ships starts well, with the ethe­real war­ble of Be in Love giv­ing way to a crash­ing, cas­cad­ing in­die-pop beat, while the ex­pan­sive I’m Sorry shud­ders with re­gret and anx­i­ety and Quit ra­di­ates tur­moil. But even though Marela ref­er­ences ev­ery­one from Björk to An­i­mal Col­lec­tive, no song is en­gag­ing or in­sis­tent enough to hold at­ten­tion, and her hap­haz­ard ap­proach of­ten sounds tired and scat­tered. It may aptly sum­marise an un­rav­el­ling re­la­tion­ship, but it doesn’t make for a par­tic­u­larly en­joy­able al­bum. bri­ana­ LAU­REN MUR­PHY

COL PAT­TER­SON Hang­over Moon ★★★★ Self Re­leased

Kil­dare mu­si­cian and song­writer Col Pat­ter­son pre­vi­ously spent time in the rock mu­sic trenches with The Vinyl­heads, a nifty enough band who re­leased the al­bum Kicks a few years ago but have since split up. Hang­over

Moon is Pat­ter­son in a solo ca­pac­ity, and it’s a much more pri­vate ex­pe­ri­ence, as the songs touch on acutely per­sonal top­ics (in­clud­ing loss, in­jus­tice, love, men­tal health and fam­ily). The nar­ra­tive load, how­ever, is less­ened some­what by a col­lec­tion of re­mark­ably poised, crisp and light-fin­gered tunes that will have you whistling away with­out per­mis­sion. There are many high­lights, in­clud­ing An­gels on the Wave, Wood­shed, Hard to Be­lieve, the ti­tle track

and Big Lie World, each of which have a sun­burst pop fin­ish that be­lies their sober, say­ing-it-likeit-is lyrics. thevinyl­ TONY CLAY­TON-LEA

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