This week in album releases sees much loved artists striking out from established acts into solo work and strongly voiced intentions. There's alternative rock experimentation, iconic artists toying with political sensibilities and some good old fashioned pub-rock punk for those who want an irish sing-along.
Former Pink Floyd songwriter Roger Waters releases his first album in 25 years, Alt-J issue album number three, pushing themselves through tessellations of their own sound, while Flogging Molly deliver an album that has communal singing in it's heart. Black Keys man Dan Auerbach and former Dirty Projectors member Amber Coffman each release solo albums that deliver on promises they'd made in previous joint ventures, but that arrive with more confidence and self determination that we could have considered.
So, without further ado — here's our rundown of albums of the week…
Alt-J — "Relaxer" — Atlantic Records
Alt-J are now on their third album since their Mercury Award-winning debut. They are a band that continue to cut their own path through an alternative rock landscape, and in doing so they have pressed themselves into a variety of shapes, usually successful, sometimes falling short of ambition. Like another alt-rock band that started on guitars, Alt-J have a feel of Radiohead — there's a dark, dark humor and self awareness in their playing of the game. Commercially they're secure, so experimentation has more confidence. Here, on Relaxer, a good example of their courage is their take on the folk/blues classic "House of the Rising Sun". The tempo is played with, lyrics are removed and new ones added — and the band make it their own, whilst making a classic even more commercial-ready. Odd passages in odd songs stutter through over-stretching, but in short Alt-J have raised their cruising altitude. It will be a long time before they come down.
Roger Waters — "Is This the Life We Really Want?" Columbia Records