The last few weeks at Alphabet Towers have been pretty much relentless. With much of our focus and energies being diverted to a hugely successful Norwich Sound and Vision Festival, our intended writings didn’t quite pan out as we meant them to.
There were loads of amazing albums released in September and October that we wanted to cover but time never allowed us to get round to. But we still wanted to say something about them so we happened upon a great idea (so we think anyway), why not break open the occasional What’s In The Box feature, and post a series of mini-reviews? To make things harder for ourselves (because where’s the fun in easy right?) we gave ourselves a word limit for each one.
So we have, and here it is, one post containing five 100 word reviews of albums we have enjoyed over the last few weeks, starting with an absolute cracker…
Chvrches – The Bones Of What You Believe
Standing toe to toe with anything we’ve heard in the last 12 months, The Bones Of What You Believe is one of the most accomplished debut albums of recent years. Martin Doherty and Iain Cook wield sonic weapons like a pair of skittish electro-ninjas; flipping, kicking and letting loose shurikens of rapid beats and synth lines with deadly precision while Lauren Mayberry’s sweet emotive vocals rise up above them as if summoned by some mystical enchantress. As equally moving as it is energetic and fun, Chvrches have delivered an album that is, as they say, all killer and no filler.
Haim – Days Are Gone
With Days Are Gone, BBC and Blog Sound of 2013 poll winners Haim easily maintained the high standards set by each preceding single. It’s a gleaming broach encrusted with gems of musical genres gone by. Highly polished stones of 90’s R&B, 80’s guitar bands and 70’s pop sparkle alongside one another. Given the amount of work that has clearly gone into making it, Days Are Gone sounds remarkably effortless and light, tracks dance along gleefully, not least the Jessie Ware penned title track which is one of many highlights, and everyone is welcome to jump on board and join in.
Summer Camp – Summer Camp
Sophomore albums are supposed to be tricky and potentially career threatening. As they drive away from Condale, Summer Camp has plotted a route that avoids any pitfalls or hazards and has instead taken a picturesque journey to success. Filled with delicious indie-pop songs, emotional and entertaining tales of love and life, this is a showcase of increased confidence within the duo as they widen their already colourful palette. There is greater variety in musical style while never sacrificing the charm or infectiousness of their debut. Melodious, danceable, warm and fantastic; Summer Camp proves second albums don’t have to be difficult.
Morcheeba – Head Up High
They may not be hitting the heights of the sublime Big Calm these days, but their second album since the return of vocalist Skye Edwards sees Morcheeba embrace a willingness to experiment. The mainstream friendly darlings of the 90’s trip-hop scene, the trio have spread their wings and flown to new worlds in their latest release, Head Up High. Collaborations and disparate musical genres flow through the 12 tracks like rivers coming together to join the sea. Chali 2na, Rizzle Kicks and White Denim’s James Petralli are amongst the guests on a solid offering that long term fans will enjoy.
Children Of Pop – Fiesta/Drift
Music consumption has changed dramatically with the Skynet-like rise of the digital format meaning listeners often focus only on a single track rather than a body of work. It’s reassuring to know that there are still people out there making music the old fashioned way and with the liquid psychedelica of Fiesta/Drift, Houston’s Children Of Pop have done just that. Comprised of two distinct sides (one energetic and vibrant, one languid and restful) this long awaited debut swirls with melodies of marbled colours and smoke like vocals, but also jumps with groovy guitar lines and funked up beats, it’s fantastic.