Every single Friday (issues yesterday meant that for this first edition, we’re going live on a Saturday), we find and collate the best albums released this week so you don’t have to. Look no further than right here for your weekend listening material.
Jay Som – Everybody Works
Melina Duterte, otherwise known under the moniker Jay Som, has had her music tagged with the description “bedroom rock”. It’s been labelled this way primarily because every track on Jay Som’s debut full-length LP has been performed, produced and recorded solely by Duterte herself. However, such is the level of creativity, the nuanced detail in the imaginative inflexions and the confidence with which she structures her songs, I really feel that labelling this as “bedroom rock” does her a disservice. The album is, on its most basic face-level, a lo-fi pop-garage-rock record. The songs themselves are lyrically mostly rooted in youthful angst, but her softly cushioned and impeccably measured vocals, as well as continually patient and vibrantly detailed instrumentation, bestows her with a maturity beyond her age. Perhaps most splendidly encapsulated by single “Baybee”, Everybody Works is one of the dreamiest, catchiest and most creatively impressive albums of the year so far.
The Magnetic Fields – 50 Song Memoir
The Magnetic Field’s founder, frontman and primary songwriter Stephin Merrit recently reached the big 50. Whilst many men choose to confront this challenging landmark by taking up cycling, gardening or wearing checkered shirts and supposedly trendy trainers (otherwise known as a mid-life crisis), Stephin Merrit has commemorated his life so far in what is, quite literally, a 50 song life memoir. With a track for each year of his being up to 50, Merrit tells the story of his life through a vast range of genres, styles and instrumentation. Starting in 1966 (“’66 Wonder Where I’m From”), he journeys from simple ukulele to bombastic synth-led tracks set in the 80s (“’81 How to Play the Synthesizer). It’s a remarkably grand musical autobiography full of personal reflection and touchingly authentic anecdotes – but most importantly, it’s jam-packed full of great songs.
Damaged Bug – Bunker Funk
The project of Thee Oh Sees’ frontman John Dwyer, Damaged Bug’s Bunker Funk is a fun psychedelic synth guitar fusion. Combining erratic discordant vocal chatter and intersecting drum and bass lines, Dwyer creates a sense of instability and volatility only really focused by his distinctive use of disintegrating synth-led solos. As you would naturally expect, it’s psychedelic jam-rock at its dissonant, freaky best. Bunker Funk may feel a little aimless at times, but I guess that’s part of the fun.
Tennis – Yours Conditionally
Husband and wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley are back with their fourth studio album. Addictively catchy pop-rock at its core, Yours Conditionally doesn’t really display too much of a deviation from the sound we’re used to from Tennis, but it does feel that bit more crisp, polished and punchy. Doused in a sweet tranquility and buoyed by the obvious chemistry palpable in the hooky synergy between Riley’s bolstering bass lines and Moore’s drifting, candied vocals, Yours Conditionally is the floaty culmination of the couple’s career so far.
Laura Marling – Semper Femina
Super Femina, translating from latin as “always woman”, is an affectionate and devoted musing on femininity and female relationships. Richly textured and dense in classical instrumentation and lyrical intimacy, Marling considers her own perspective as a woman on past relationships, often wittily and astutely depicting recognisable portraits of ex or present significant others. My personal highlight, “The Valley” is a beautifully ambling, finger-picked song full of Joni Mitchell-esque imagery and poetic musings worthy of almost any great folk singer-songwriter. In exploring her own femininity, it feels like Marling, in what is surely the most challenging, assured and developed release of her career so far, has found the sound most complimentary to her ambition.