SOUND JUDGE­MENT

THE LAT­EST AL­BUM RE­LEASES RATED AND RE­VIEWED

Llanelli Star - - SOUND OUT -

IN THE SHAPE OF A STORM

DAMIEN JU­RADO ★★★★★

THE open­ing track of singer­song­writer Damien Ju­rado’s lat­est, Lin­coln, was ap­par­ently writ­ten 20 years ago but is only now sur­fac­ing, along with nine other songs, on an al­bum that was recorded in just two hours.

Nat­u­rally, this didn’t al­low for much embellishm­ent. Even by Ju­rado’s usual stan­dards, who has made a name for him­self in lo-fi mu­sic, this is a min­i­mal­ist work: lit­tle more than vo­cals and gen­tly strummed guitar. In this way it re­calls the ear­li­est Bob Dy­lan records, with echoes too of Leonard Co­hen and Eliot Smith, and it is fit to stand along­side the best works of all three.

NOT WAV­ING, BUT DROWN­ING LOYLE CARNER ★★★★ ★

BRIT nom­i­nee Carner is lots of things in one. Start­ing from his genre ag­nos­ti­cism, his sopho­more al­bum con­tin­ues the ar­rest­ing tracks, warmth and un­fussy hon­esty of his lauded de­but.

The ti­tle track, a spo­ken piece, con­cerns “the brave pre­tence” that makes us con­ceal suf­fer­ing, and im­plic­itly an­nounces this al­bum’s quest for a non-toxic mas­culin­ity. Carner’s zero-grand-stand­ing vo­cal style and un­pre­ten­tious­ness (high­lighted by di­gres­sions and stu­dio chat) are a re­fresh­ing mark of au­then­tic­ity.

SO­CIAL CLUES

CAGE THE ELE­PHANT ★★★★ ★

FOR a record in­spired by the un­rav­el­ling of front­man Matt

Shultz’s mar­riage, this fifth al­bum is a glo­ri­ously con­fi­dent, swag­ger­ing af­fair.

So­cial Cues is a des­per­ately sad yet awe­somely up­lift­ing record.

Take the ti­tle track – clearly in­spired by Bowie’s Ashes To Ashes – which hides an el­egy for lost love un­der lay­ers of mo­torik drums. “I’ll be in the bath­room / Tell me when it’s over / I don’t want to play this part much longer,” Schulz sings as the world he’s crafted since 2014 falls apart.

Mov­ing away from their pri­mary in­flu­ences – Pix­ies, Nir­vana – and to­wards a melange of louche pop and weighty glam rock gives the band space to stretch out.

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