Sweet Jesus, Grizzly Bear are back after a 5 year hiatus. I’m such a huge fan. I return to their music time and time again. It’s a whole world away from your average US college rock, Pitchfork-loved guitar band – though Pitchfork probably do love them. I find their music endlessly fascinating, full of interesting layers and their songs tend to open up the more you listen to them. That makes them sound like a tough listen, which they’re not at all. But they do have intimacy to their songwriting despite having quite a ‘big’ sound.
This first single seems to have picked up where the last album left off. I wasn’t sure to start with, and then I liked it; and now, on the 20th listen, I completely love it.
Album’s coming in August and they’re playing Manchester on October 6th. I’ve just bought tickets. Anyone fancy joining me?
Firstly, the hugest of apologies for the lateness of this month. It’s been a bit of month, so please forgive me.
So, onto PERFUME GENIUS. I had half-remembered that his previous album, Too Bright, had featured as an AOTM on these pages, but looking back through, perhaps that didn’t happen. Certainly, for a few of us, that album was a first real introduction to him (Joey, I know you’ve loved him for ages). And perhaps for some of us, he’s still a mystery.
If Too Bright was a progression from his interesting but sometimes noodly earlier work, No Shape is a giant leap forward into a whole new cosmos, a world of widescreen emotion, of huge songs, aching torch songs and whopping choruses. It is, whisper it, a pop album. And I say that with the hugest respect. Making interesting arthouse pop is one thing – constructing a whole album of cracking songs with amazing hooks and heartstring-tugging sequences is something else. Yes, I love this album. Yes, I REALLY love this album.
It’s not often I play an album 10 times in a row over a course of 3 days. It’s not often that I know straight away that I will playing this album for years to come. It’s not often that I rewind a few of the songs and play them again and again. I can’t think of the last album that had five songs in a row that were all so good, I was almost overwhelmed (Track 2: Slip Away to Track 6: Wreath).
So what is in this crazy alchemy that works so well. It’s not a radical departure from Too Bright in many ways – that bold camp vision of leftfield, celebratory gay pop music is still intact; it’s just bolder, brighter, sunnier. But what has really changed for me is the songwriting. The hooks, the melodies, the whole production – it’s next level shit.
I’ve been at a rather hippyish wedding of an old uni friend in Somerset. She suggested we all bring guitars and instruments down for a sing-song, which we duly did. Alex (Batesmith) brought a book of pop tunes, that had many a 90s classic in there. The biggest hit, singalong wise, of the rather bleary late night, was, surprisingly enough, Erasure’s A Little Respect. The next day, driving back on the long drive up to Leeds in sheet rain, we stuck on the Erasure song, and we were stunned by how good it was. We ended up listening to nearly the whole of their greatest hits. Fuck me, they knew how to write a pop song. If people rightly laud the Pet Shop Boys, why aren’t Erasure mentioned in the same breath? I wonder if they felt a bit too brash and less cool. But in songwriting terms, they wrote about 10 stone cold pop classics.
Why am I mentioning them? Well, there is something of their love of melody, of finding rich emotion in the camp candyfloss of pop tunes, that is right here in this album. Indeed, some of the chord changes are even reminiscent of ABBA. Again, I come to praise, not to bury. Of course, there is also some darker elements, some more oddbeat, slow burn peculiar songs of weird intensity, like Choir and quite a bit of the album’s second half. But I defy anyone not to play Wreath or Just Like Love, and not just smile at the sheer, indefatigable joy of pop music, in all its garish glory.
Perfume by name, Genius by nature.
Father John Misty comes back with a frankly magnificent piece of work… and the video’s really something, too.
Well where the hell did this come from? Childish Gambino AKA Donald Glover drops his 3rd album under the CG monkier out of nowhere, and it is a BEAST. Always been slightly underwhelmed by his previous output, which felt to more like hip hop you could admire more than love. It was too clever and tricksy and I don know, I didn’t feel it.
This is a totally different beast. This isn’t hip hop at all – it’s a funk or soul album, steeped in Sly Stone, Prince and Funkadelic, and it’s as properly far out at times as either George Clinton or Sly. It’s a bold step to the left, and he pulls it off with incredible confidence. I’m only my 2nd listen, but I am LOVING it…
I love everything single about this more than I can say. So perfectly formed. What a video. So much colour, so much life. I wonder if a UK rapper like this might blow up globally soon. Feels so much fresher and less bloated than most US counterparts (Kendrick et al notwithstanding). Dunno. Anyway, enjoy…
Wonky all-female Liverpudlian electro-psych pop trio? Count me in!
Also, this video is incredible. Love how it captures that weird folk takes/ancient magik bucolic English village thing.
Kendrick just dropped this out of nowhere. I’m only a first listen, but this is BLOWING MY MIND. Like more than Butterfly. I can’t explain why, but I am LOVING it.
Should I go back to Butterfly? Does this feel different? It’s apparently just unreleased tracks from the same sessions. It’s got such groove and flow. Just brilliant.