Every single Friday, 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.
Real Estate – In Mind
Real Estate are without question a band that play to their strengths. Comfortable with their own recognisable sound, if it weren’t for the fact they consistently release great songs and records, their lack of any particularly notable experimentation could be putting their credentials at risk. But as ever with a Real Estate release, In Mind quickly washes away any doubts. “Darling”, “Same Sun” and “White Light”, layered in familiarly jangling guitar lines and Martin Courtney’s spotlessly soft tenor, are as accomplished and immaculately clean as almost any Real Estate songs of their type to date. “Two Arrows” on the other hand is a lovely slow drifter. An almost shoegazed haze to the vocals gradually wanders into an incredibly pleasing lazy jam featuring staggering drums and a distorted, swaying lead guitar to carry the song home. Moments of subtle experimentation like this feel almost downplayed by the band themselves, present only in brief moments and sprinkled throughout the album. As instantaneously recognisable as In Mind is, how refreshing is it for a band four albums in to be showing absolutely no signs of stagnation, both in their understated creativity and their pure listenability?
IDLES – Brutalism
Opening with the alarming screams of “No Surrender!” (taken from a recording of a female protestor in Belfast), IDLES instantly set the precedent for fervorous discontent in modern Britain. With this, Brutalism erupts into life with intensely pounding drums and a snarling intro riff. This album has been touted by some as the corrosive but accomplished political punk record that the UK has been waiting for – it’s easy to see why. The explosive instrumentation and the viciously fierce vocals of Joe Talbot are strong as it is, but it’s the frontman’s charisma and sincerely frank onslaught of Tory ideals and the downfalls of British society that takes this record to another level. “The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”, Talbot repeats over and over on “Mother”, proving that forceful repetition can be the most effective way to drive home a message. Although undoubtedly rooted in political dissent, IDLES’ targets are broad. “Mother” is a grim attack on misogyny, “Divide and Conquer” is dedicated to the systematic demise of the NHS, “Stendhal Syndrome” mocks those who criticise art without understanding it, “Exeter” ridicules the stupidity of insecurity-fuelled masculinity and homophobia, whilst also grimly caricaturing small town Britain. Whilst the topics are broad, they are held together by Talbot’s socially sharp, wry and biting delivery along with the incessant whirlwind instrumentation. In equal parts catchy and caustic, wry and indignant, Brutalism is a frothing-at-the-mouth, lyrically diverse punk-rock album that forces its outrage furiously but intelligently.
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – The French Press [EP]
With three singer-guitarists at the helm, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever can at times seem to emit pure frantic freedom. Placed atop of jangling guitar, vocals from Tom Russo, Fran Keaney, and Joe White are unpredictably interchangeable and, matched with the varying tempos ranging from frenzied to ambling, feel naturally spontaneous. On title track “French Press” and “Julie’s Place”, this essence of spontaneity is confined only really by the sweetly rich, mellow vocals (not too dissimilar to those of Real Estate’s Martin Courtney) shared between the band. The opening two tracks, as frenetic as they are, are probably the best on the EP. The rest of this release brings lesser, altogether still strong highlights whilst further maintaining their diverse, buckling range of tempos. “Fountain of Good Fortune” and “Dig Up” bring the EP to a close with a softer, acoustic sound doused in summery inflections and vocal harmonies, whilst “Colours Run” is another frantically paced song characterised by erratic vocals and a boisterous guitar line. If The French Press is a sign of things to come on Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s first full-length LP, it signals a vibrant, erratic and wholly enjoyable debut album.
Spoon – Hot Thoughts
Releasing their debut album over twenty years ago in 1996, Spoon have ever-since been an accomplished ever-present band in the indie scene. Nine studio albums in, Spoon have managed to maintain relevance and acclaim over the years without adjusting their sound too drastically. Hot Thoughts sounds like Spoon from the get-go. “Can I Sit Next To You” and title track opener “Hot Thoughts” are characterised by the same punchy instrumentation, spotless-production and raspy, soulful vocals that have worked so well in the past on songs such like “I Turn My Camera On”, “The Way We Get By” and “Don’t You Evah”. The lurchy, rambling “Do I Have To Talk You Into It” is a timelessly slick and stylish albeit very simple rock song, glossed over with funky electric keys and reverb. “Pink Up”, one of a few tracks on the album that stands apart from the rest of the record, is an intriguing six-minute jam combining soft vibraphone, chattering percussion and slightly subdued vocals. Ending with a vastly sparse saxophone led instrumental piece in “Us”, Hot Thoughts proves to be yet another Spoon album that combines their simple, but satisfying brand of punchy, indie-pop with more untamed experimental ventures.