AURAL PLEASURE

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BY JAYEMMCEE

THE BRIDE

BAT FOR LASHES

1---Bat-for-Lashes---The-Bride---Neil-Krug_670Natasha Khan, aka Bat for Lashes, has an uncanny knack for world-building, an ability to craft a musical and aesthetic environment brimming with rich scenes and fantastical characters. Moving gradually from folk and chamber music to emotional electronic pop over four albums, she’s been able to carve out an uncompromising niche for herself.

While not as musically stunning as her last two records (2009’s Two Suns and 2012’s The Haunted Man, both excellent benchmarks for her brand of self-contained yet grandiose songwriting), The Bride may be Bat for Lashes’ most ambitious project yet, a true concept album, every song tightly woven into a through narrative from start to finish.

4/5

 

CALIFORNIA

BLINK 182

blink182_california_cd_lgBlink-182’s seventh album wants to be a pop-punk eminence album, evidence humbly submitted that this aging pack of skater brats is still young, selectively dumb, and full of commiserating angst. Whether they meant to or not, Blink-182 paved the way for a new version of pop punk. Acts who wanted to emphasize the uplifting melodies of pop while yelling about life’s frustrations had a stencil they could follow — so the Joyce Manors and Modern Baseballs and All Time Lows did. Blink-182 perfected a new style, but singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge couldn’t seem to take it seriously anymore.

Now that he quit and Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba has replaced him, Blink-182 are back on the melodic pop punk train, but it’s rife with setbacks: stale jokes, over-produced harmonies, half baked lyrics. It’s easy to fault California for that, but if nothing else, their first album in five years shows older Blink-182 heading where older Blink-182 were meant to go. The fact that they were able to produce something salvageable comes as a pleasant, though shaky surprise.

25/5

 

CHEETAH

APHEX TWIN

AphexCheetahIt’s either feast or famine in Aphexland. This electronica maestro will be silent for a decade, then all of a sudden he’s back, flying a lime-green blimp over the Thames, firing out official new releases under a variety of pseudonyms and dumping the contents of his hard drive on Soundcloud for the whole world to peruse.

‘Cheetah’ is Richard D James’s third release on Warp Records in the last couple of years. Following 2014’s miraculous ‘Syro’, at seven tracks and 34 minutes, ‘Cheetah’ is a laid-back, somewhat pensive collection that remains firmly in the category of what people used to call ‘intelligent dance music’, powered by languid electronic beats and those gauzy synth melodies that Aphex has traditionally done so well. You could tell from one listen to ‘Syro’ that it was Aphex, back and on form. ‘Cheetah’ isn’t bad, but it could be the work of lesser producer. In this respect at least, Aphex Twin remains an enigma. After all, you don’t come out of retirement to be ordinary.

3/5

 

VERY BEST OF

PRINCE

princePutting together a single-disc compilation from Prince must have been a tough task, but whoever put this together did a great job. 17 of the R&B/Pop icon’s best including ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Little Red Corvette’, ‘Kiss’, ‘I Would Die For You’ and many others. For the full and part-time fan, this is like a trip down memory lane, but for the beginner, this is the best path to take.

Taken literally, the title is sure to cause endless arguments. Nothing from Dirty Mind, not a trace of the early anthem “Controversy,” no “Erotic City” – no non-LP cuts at all, save some edited single versions – and a cold shoulder to the criminally outof- print Gold Experience. Damn. As a compendium of 17 key A-sides from 1979 to 1992, however, The Very Best of Prince is (ahem) a quick-’n’-dirty review of The Artist, blessed with both creative cunning and the wish to reach every listener possible.

Though a fine party artifact, this disc is still likely to prove too scanty even for many casual Prince fans.

4/5

 

Arriving in Southeast Asia over ten years ago, Jayemmcee is a part-time, amateur music historian and full time music lover of the highest order. When not ploughing through albums he is busy as a multi-disciplined creative professional living and working on Koh Samui.

If you ever need a photographer, designer, writer or just a dude who knows his shit, check out Jayemmcee’s alter ego The Imaginician.

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