A most intimate return
It might be a relatively short time in terms of an overall career – and the year that’s just unfolding – but Sharon van Etten has delivered one hell of a comeback.
Remind Me Tomorrow is the indie maverick’s first album in five years, after she took time out to become a mum. However, she’s kept herself busy at the same time with her acting debut on OA and a musical score for Strange Weather and contributions to the Twin Peaks revival.
What’s most noticeable, particularly on the stomping anthem Comeback Kid, is the switch from a guitar-heavy sound to one that relies heavily on dark synthesiser collages, organ drones, and her beautiful guttural and ethereal vocal.
The net is cast wide, with collaborators including Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu), Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint), and Joey Waronker (REM, Atoms For Peace) and, despite the fuller and denser sound, it’s still van Etten at her most intimate.
Also on the comeback trail are Fun Lovin’ Criminals, who have struggled to maintain a career trajectory off their major hit, the 1996 heavily Quentin Tarantino-referenced song Scooby Snacks.
Another Mimosa, their first album in seven years, is something of a curiosity. As the title suggests, it’s the second instalment of Mimosa, their 1999 album of covers and reworked originals. This time, there’s just two re-interpretations and nine covers, ranging from Procul Harem’s A Whiter Shade Of Pale to the Bobby Womack soul classic, Daylight, featuring onand-off-again Happy Mondays vocalist Rowetta.
Fun? Certainly, but fun you have at a karaoke club or bar.
The Lemonheads also return – sort of – with a reprise of their last album Varshons which, despite its commercial success, almost seemed like a sign-off from enigmatic frontman Evan Dando.
Ten years on and Varshons II is caught in the fan-zone. Dando can reinvent the likes of Paul Westerberg, Lucinda Williams, The Jayhawks, and Yo La Tengo on the liltingly tender Can’t Forget in his own emotionally achy way, but you have to wonder if this is all he has to offer after all these years. Have The Lemonheads been fully squeezed?