Review: Thirteen studio albums in, and 'Colors' sees Beck maybe at his most playful and upbeat since the late '90s. Title track 'Colors' opens the albums with an immediacy that bursts out like a heavily polished 'Devil's Haircut'. The album veers off in all kinds of pop directions, from the anthemic 'Seventh Heaven', to the almost trap-like 'Wow', Beck shows he's willing to experiment and wrangle as much as possible into an album. It might not be his most contemplative record, but it's definitely his glossiest and most entertaining in a while, and promises a rollercoaster ride from start to finish.
Review: "Hyperspace" sees Beck venture further down the pop road, drafting in a wealth of high profile, stadium-filling collaborators to realise what's arguably his most synthesised work to date. Full marks to anyone who, upon blind taste test, immediately jumped to the conclusion this was indeed Beck. Fear not, that's less a result of his iconic and infinitely listenable voice not shining through, and more down to what else is in these arrangements. Working with legendary studio genius Pharrell Williams (who co-produced and co-wrote), you'll also find Coldplay's Chris Martin and Georgia, US rapper and drummer Terrell Hines involved here, amongst others. Together with these names we're taken into a soaring, immersive and glittering world of sophisticated but chart-friendly anthems, from clap-a-long number "Die Waiting", to the epic space-rock closer "Everlasting Nothing".
Review: The Chemical Brothers are back with their 10th studio album (mixes and soundtracks not withstanding), and they're sounding especially fired up. The widescreen stadium psychedelia they've made their own spills out in abundance across "No Geography", but it's also matched with a feverish energy. The more up-tempo tracks, like "Gravity Drops" and "Eve Of Destruction", spit and snarl with the best of their classic, down and dirty dancefloor material, but there's plenty of space for the starry eyed songwriting they've made their own in more recent times. Just cop "The Universe Sent Me" and be immediately transported to a festival field, where you'll no doubt be catching The Bro's this summer.
Good Morning Love (feat Samora Pinderhughes) (4:52)
HER Love (feat Daniel Caesar & Dwele) (4:30)
Dwele's Interlude (1:02)
Hercules (feat Swizz Beatz) (2:55)
Fifth Story (feat Leikeli47) (4:36)
Forever Your Love (feat BJ The Chicago Kid) (4:03)
Leaders (Crib Love) (feat A-Trak) (3:31)
Memories Of Home (feat BJ The Chicago Kid & Samora Pinderhughes) (4:07)
Show Me That You Love (feat Jill Scott & Samora Pinderhughes) (5:32)
My Fancy Free Future Love (4:36)
God Is Love (feat Leon Bridges & Jonathan McReynolds) (3:55)
Review: Hip hop giant Common remains hugely prolific despite a career spanning the best part of thirty years. Let Love is his 12th studio album and third in three years. It pulls in collaborators like Jill Scott, Swizz Beatz and A-Trak, but retains his trademark sense of storytelling. As the title suggests, it's a lovestruck affair with golden production and gently lilting beats that make for a touching listen. Shouting out his respect to Cardi B, ASAP Rocky, and Tyler The Creator along the way, this is an album of pure positivity, a place of light in these dark times, and another winner from this legendary artist.
Review: Even though he's been active for years, Los Angeles-based Adam Dyment aka Duke Dumont has never released a full length before. "Duality", then, is his long-awaited debut and it features a wide variety of moods and grooves, as well as some stylish collaborations. Dumont's infectious take on club music is best heard on the funky house party starter "The Power". Hear the drummer get wicked on the breakbeat energy of "Therapy", in addition to the glassy-eyed and bittersweet slow burner "Let Me Go" featuring RY 'X' Cuming. We should also mention that there's some fine collaborations, such as with house music royalty Roland Clark on "Obey" and R'n'B favourite How to Dress Well on the evocative offering "Together".
Review: The third album from Marika Hackman, and arguably her most honest and exposed to date. An artist who has tangibly progressed from what was already a head start, it's a complex record that seems to be the sum of the artist's previous parts. A proud and forthright declaration of someone arriving at where they want to be wouldn't be putting it too far. It's scuzzy, desolate, bleak and then at the same time energetic, poised, guttural, disco. Tracks such as "Send My Love" couldn't be more emotionally charged, but nor could they be more inviting- somewhere between this life and the next- inviting and then visceral. Flip it and find "Conventional Ride" and "Come Undone" as two tracks that are entirely different but share one thing in common; a heartbreaking work of extraordinary genius.
Review: Kicking off with recited verses from Romeo And Juliet and barely scaling the drama down from that point onward, 'Hopeless Fountain Kingdom' is a relentlessly far-reaching album from the Jersey born artist formerly known as Ashley Frangipane. Yet in a pop landscape increasingly dominated by radio-ready blandness and empty soundbites, these soul-searching and angst-ridden ditties bear genuine emotional heft to match their super-producer gloss, arriving at an arrestingly synth-driven sound more Depeche Mode than Ellie Goulding, and dissecting her trials and travails in a manner that suggests a fearless and feral talent built to last. A widescreen tour-de-force from a very 21st-century pop star.
Review: By the time they headed into the studio to record Protection, Massive Attack were still riding high on the success of their peerless debut album, Blue Lines. While the resultant set, released in 1994, does quite hit the same dizzying heights, it remains a thoroughly great album. Of course, we all know the highlights by heart - the stoned bounce of "Karmacoma", evocative downtempo bliss of Tracey Thorn hook-up "Protection", string-drenched lusciousness of "Sly", and the gentle dub-house soul of the Horace Andy-voiced "Spying Glass", for example - but even the forgotten album cuts (see "Weather Storm" and "Better Things") have aged remarkably well. If you don't own a copy on vinyl already, you definitely should.
Review: Given Massive Attack's background, it was almost inevitable that they'd release a dub overhaul of one of their albums at one point. That time came in 1995, when British sound system legend Mad Professor - responsible for some of the greatest UK-made dub records of all time - put his distinctive twist on Protection. 21 years on, the set still sounds sublime: a radical translation that frequently bares only a passing resemblance to the Bristol band's original. It's packed with highlights, from the spaced-out, dub-house rework of "Spying Glass" ("I Spy"), to the ricocheting percussion hits and twinkling pianos of "Weather Storm (Cool Monsoon)", and creepy, delay-laden string surges of "Eternal Feedback (Sly)".
Review: Kent two-piece Slaves are purveyors of a wry, raw brand of old-fashioned punk rock that is as equal parts economical, raucous and exhilarating. They may take their cues from the nihilistic spirit of the Sex Pistols and the hormonal rage of garage rock, yet they parlay old-fashioned influences with contemporary spirit and intensity, in the process creating an album curiously timeless and primal. Yet most important to the charge of 'Are You Satisfied' is its scabrous lyrics and drummer/vocalist Isaac Holman's acidic invective, rendering this collection a unique combination of style and ire.