Feist, Gorillaz & Sylvan Esso Ahead Of The Bunch In Albums Of The Week - April 28
Thu, 27 Apr 2017 15:58:20
The world of new albums just became richer with the release of a range of very welcome material. Some of the artists who have dropped albums this week have each been been teasing fans with the promise of new tunes for so long that it seems like they have all landed at the same time in some mad conspiracy.
Feist returns after five years away, Gorillaz finally deliver an album that felt like we were waiting on a comet to arrive. Sylvan Esso produce a sophomore album that answers the "What will they do next?" question that so many of us asked after their debut. Juliana Hatfield decided not to quit music but to sing about silly men with small fingers, and The Cranberries celebrate their career with a classy collection of their most famous songs.
So here then, without further ado is the ARTISTdirect run down of our favorite albums of the week...
Feist — Pleasure — Interscope Records
It's been six years since we had a full length studio album from Feist, but now the follow-up to 2011's Metals has finally arrived. Sonically the album is a grittier affair and lyrically the themes that the songwriter has previously touched on get fully dissected. Here loneliness, loss, and the future are viewed with an almost sentimental filter — so when moments of resistance or optimism shine through, they shine all the brighter. Known for tracks that instantly demand replay and contain a crowd well, Feist can't let slip her natural inclination to make comforts of the things that previously unsettled. So again, tracks like "Pleasure" offer moments where brightness from a community singalong are offered. It's simpler than previous albums, it' knuckles are a little more raw, but the comforts of Pleasure are plentiful and serve to remind why we need artists like Feist.
Gorillaz — Humanz — Parlophone
With a list of featured artists that would stretch memory and time, the new full length studio album from Damon Albarn's Gorillaz has finally arrived with a level of fuss and noise of a mobilized military unit. Efficient deployment of crafted social media campaigns, the announcement of their very own festival, and a bunch of 3D videos from Gorillaz marked this new wave of material as a shrewdly played out exercise in pop culture. The songs, of course, are excellent — they arrive, often in the abstract. Inspired by Trump's presidency but never mentioning the man by name, eclectic and irreverent the album doesn't produce the instant access of previous pop-chart smashes. This is a more adult album, a little indulgent, incredibly expansive and filled with more ambition than most. You may not understand all of the elements that Albarn and his cohorts assemble, but those which you do jive with will jive with you like no other.
Sylvan Esso — What Now — Partisan Records
Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn return with their sophomore album, and it's a rare treat. They're not the first duo to blend folk and electronic sensibilities to produce pop music that doesn't sound childish or distracting, but they're the first to bring the kind of soul that makes these songs feel timeless. Meath has an approach to delivering a lyric that elevates a seemingly disposable line into a thing of sheer delight, and what Sanborn does with production duties makes modern sweeps sound like wonderfully aged standards. You'll play this album and wonder if someone told Sylvan Esso that the ‘difficult second album' was meant to be difficult. The ease of grace, the sequencing of tracks, and the palpable joy of the album are encouraging — not least because they exist in and of themselves — they tackle what they know and so are reassuringly confident and well-articulated.
The Cranberries — Something Else — BMG
It's been a few years since seventeen year old Dolores O'Riordan and her band stumbled into global fame with tracks like "Zombie". Now, looking back over two decades of music, career, family and culture, The Cranberries have refined and repackaged a number of their fan favorites and adapted the sounds to be performed with a string quartet. The result is an album of old favorites, arguably iconic songs, served in a manner which is both fresh and arresting. The intention of the band was to show the strength of the songs, and the prettier elements within the words which have now taken on more mature meanings. They hit their target, and this album is guaranteed people-pleaser for the fans that have been there from the start, and for those who want the classics served in a classic fashion.
Juliana Hatfield — Pussycat — American Laundromat
Legend will one day tell that Juliana Hatfield was toying with the idea of retiring from music, but then Donald Trump won the race for presidential election, and suddenly these songs wrote themselves and demanded to be shared. The album is definitely political — more so than Hatfield's previous releases in her 30-odd year career. Sure, this is an artist who has addressed issues before, but rarely with the urgency and in-your-face-ness of this collection. As an unassuming luminary of the alt-rock movement of the 90's Hatfield shared the orbit with a number of iconic artists whose influence has been passed into current generations of musicians who wish to capture the spirit of progressive and alternative thinking. With this album Hatfield shows she may have helped light those torches, but she's not passing them on just yet. No one can articulate, so perfectly, the well-mannered rage that Hatfield's vocal approach delivers so well. "Small Fingered Man" which you can hear above has all the elements of the artist's best work. Anger, humor, quick-wit, disarming dryness of delivery. It's a good thing that Hatfield didn't quit when she thought she might.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff