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.
Mac Demarco – This Old Dog
Before the release of This Old Dog’s first few singles, there was some question as to whether or not Mac Demarco’s fifth studio album would see him take on a new musical direction. Those hoping for a hugely notable shift in Demarco’s sound will discover that progression to be quite minimal. The tracks are more bare and acoustic-led, synth and drum machine are employed to a greater extent, but it retains that same hazed serenity we’ve come to associate with Mac Demarco. He’s also the same emotionally open, enamoured Mac that wrote Another One, but This Old Dog provides some of his most worried, reflective and touching material to date. Much of the lyrical focus seems to revolve around his relationship with his father, with album opener “This Old Dog”, “My Old Man” and “Watching Him Fade Away” all addressing him coming to terms with his father’s illness, their complicated relationship and his own ageing. Disarmingly open and frank, they show a side to Mac Demarco that can easily be lost in the noise created by his zany sense of humour and happy-go-lucky demeanour. Elsewhere, the synth-led “On the Level”, bouncy-acoustic “Baby You’re Out” and romantically charged “Still Beating” are easily some of his strongest songs yet. The characteristic warmth that radiates Demarco’s songs is not as effortless as it sounds – it can only be put down to great songwriting. Indeed, whilst the progression is relatively subtle, it’s the guaranteed quality of songwriting that shines through the entirety of This Old Dog.
Slowdive – Slowdive
One of the pioneers of shoegaze and dream pop, Slowdive’s return was first marked by a well-received live show comeback. Their first album in twenty-two years, the initial announcement of today’s self-titled release was probably met by their biggest fans with nearly as much apprehension as excitement. They’ll breathe a sigh of relief today as Slowdive maintains a boundless vibrancy and euphoria, whilst remaining true to the sound that made them icons and influencers for so many years. This album fits seamlessly into the band’s discography to date. Considering the twenty-two year void since Pygmalion, it’s a pretty incredible feat that few seminal comeback-bands are able to achieve.
Pond – The Weather
Produced by Kevin Parker, Pond’s The Weather feels like Tame Impala’s Currents on a more potent dose of psychedelic drugs. Previously sharing members between both bands, Pond have embraced that same crashing percussive sound and padded synth (in place of guitars) that marked Tame Impala’s development on Currents. More flamboyant and grandiose than ever before, Pond’s latest release is built around rich melodies and colourful synth layerings. Experimental but still very much accessible, The Weather marks an accomplished development of a band with a lot more to come.
Perfume Genius – No Shape
Following on from 2014’s critically acclaimed Too Bright, Mike Hadreas’ fourth studio album No Shape marks another grand progression in Perfume Genius’ sound. Gnarled together in a swirl of conflicting sounds and influences, No Shape is an incredibly complicated pop album that buzzes wildly around Hadreas’ expressions of passion, anxiety, fear, joy and sexuality. Deeply imaginative and boldly unpredictable, Hadreas’ creative exploration of different styles is so varied and artful it can actually feel a little jarring at times. Although No Shape is, as suggested by the title, a little more disjointed than Too Bright, it’s a powerful statement of Hadreas’ rich talent and artistic progression.