CDS of the week: three new releases
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: Wrong Creatures Abstract Dragon/pias £9.99
If anyone tries the old “rock music is dead” thesis on you this year, just “sniff disdainfully at their ignorance and direct their attention” to this cracking new album by BRMC, said Mark Edwards in The Sunday Times. The collection offers “more range” from the Californian rockers than ever before, from the “Roy Orbison-ish” ballad Haunt and the “truly creepy” pop of Circus Bazooko, to Echo, a “gorgeous, slow-building emotional journey”.
Rock is so out of fashion that BRMC resemble a “hooded monastic order bent over esoteric instruments in darkened scholarship of an almost forgotten lore”, said Ludovic Hunter-tilney in the FT. But Wrong Creatures “proves the old formula still works”. Little Thing Gone Wild is the only “outright stomper”. Otherwise, the mood is slower and more expansive than usual. Drummer Leah Shapiro and bassist Robert Levon Been lay down a “nocturnal, swampy beat”, while Peter Hayes “mixes up a thick impasto of grinding guitar tones and sharply pointed solos”.
Camila Cabello: Camila Syco £9.99
Camila Cabello’s breakthrough smash
Havana “appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, in September, and made the 20-year-old Mexican-cuban singer a star”, said Will Hodgkinson in The Times. Now arrives the solo debut album from this former member of Fifth Harmony (a hugely successful, but notably fractious, girl group put together on the US version of The X Factor) and it’s a “charming, rather modest, surprisingly reflective pop album”. Cabello sometimes sounds “like an unlikely cross between Mariah Carey and Joni Mitchell, and it is rather lovely”.
This record “screams superstar” – and could “dominate 2018”, said Lisa Verrico in The Sunday Times. The album’s ten tracks are mostly mid-tempo, “awash with piano and sweet acoustic and strummed electric guitar” – when beats do kick in, “they are sparse and subtle” – with the “airy and effortless” songs working well to showcase Cabello’s “versatile” singing voice. “Throughout, restraint is key, but the impact could be enormous.”
Debussy – Piano music (Stephen Hough) Hyperion £10.50
The centenary of Claude Debussy’s death falls in March, said Andrew Clements in The Guardian, and several record companies have major tie-in releases celebrating the great French composer lined up for 2018. For Debussy fanatics and musicologists, Warner Classics has got in early with a 33-disc Complete Works set. It’s a “scrupulously assembled” collection that will be “invaluable” as a reference resource, although the quality of some of the earlier recordings is variable.
Also quick off the blocks is Stephen Hough with a more manageable and superb allDebussy piano disc, based on works he has been playing in recitals for several years, said Richard Fairman in the FT. Anybody who has heard Hough’s “scintillating recordings of Camille Saint-saëns’s piano concertos will know how well the sparkling clarity of French music suits him”. Here, his playing ranges from the “atmospheric” to the joyful, in a selection taking in most of Debussy’s larger works for solo piano outside the two books of Préludes and the Études.