The xx, The Flaming Lips & Bonobo Lead Albums Of the Week - January 13
Thu, 12 Jan 2017 17:29:45
A lot of people talk about the post-holiday season blues. They say that the first half of January is a time when mornings are harder to conquer and hump days are steeper than ever. They call it ‘the blues'. However, here we are, winding up only the second week of the month and already we have artists dropping some incredible new material, some of it eagerly anticipated, and other elements simply surprising.
The xx come out, swinging for the fences with their new tunes, Wayne Coyne and co. drop a new foray into psychedelia, Bonobo issues a quiet, confident set of tracks and Dear Nora sees a very sensible reissue of an album that first won hearts in 2004. So, let's look at these elements a little closer…
The xx: "I See You" [Young Turks]
English trio The xx return to follow their 2012 album Coexist with a set of songs that truly expands on their sound. Since their debut this is a band that has been admired for the spare sense of space that they create — keeping things simple, strong and direct to the point with a zen-like clarity. I See You isn't quite the opposite of those things — but it sounds bigger, more spacious and as if the band are keen on capturing a sense of scale and ambition that was previously blinkered from view. Perhaps this is their strongest album to date — it is certainly going to tolerate translation to festival stages that the band will be headlining this year.
The Flaming Lips: "Oczy Mlody" [Warner Bros.]
Wayne Coyne and The Flaming Lips return with a simply stunning selection of tracks on Oczy Mlody. If 2013's mostly overlooked album, The Terror, had the band with their dials set on ‘Darkness' perhaps this time out they recalibrated to ‘Beauty'. As humans on the planet the band have been experiencing some tough times in recent years — as creatives they supported and co-wrote with Miley Cyrus on her psychedelic Dead Petz album — it's been an interesting time. Emerging from the process the Lips are back on a trajectory that echos a relationship with earlier albums like The Soft Bulletin. It's worth a listen, and a replay, and a whole bunch of volume.
Bonobo: "Migration" [Ninja Tune]
Simon Green, aka Bonobo, returns with a collection of tunes that are frankly breathtaking. An atmosphere that dares to be grandiose while also retaining those intimate passages that fans have come to expect, make for a textured step in the career of an artist who is always interesting. Lead single "Kerala" is a nice point of access, detailing the sense that prevails throughout the album — there is darkness, and sometimes despair, but there is always light — and as always Bonobo always offers solutions to any problems he notes. Great stuff.
Dear Nora: "Mountain Rock" [Orindal] [reissue]
Dear Nora's Mountain Rock album from 2004 receives a very welcome reissue this week. What a staggering piece of unadulterated beauty this album is. This is as intimate, timeless, and atmospherically recorded as music can get. Acoustic guitar is picked, vocals are delivered with crystal precision while dropping no character, and old school breaks occur when piano or something else comes in, adds, and then leaves when the job is done. That this album was overlooked back then only adds to the potency for audiences to discover it now. Truly, a thing of wonder to share with trusted friends and through headphones under your pillow.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff