Music Review 29/9/17 – Wolf Alice, Protomartyr and more…

The Music Review is a weekly set of capsule reviews on the biggest releases of the previous week, all curated by myself. Each week has an Album of the Week and a Dud of the Week (although, let it be said that the Dud is rarely a particularly awful album, just the one that I deem the weakest of that week’s big releases). The format allows for more reviews to make their way into the website without laboriously long essays on each album getting published.

Here come the girls: Ibeyi release their sophomore LP, Wolf Alice come screaming back to life, and Miley Cyrus and Shania Twain prove they have more in common than people know…

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Relatives in Descent  – Protomartyr

This isn’t contrived anger or manufactured outrage: this is sharp, biting critique dressed in its finest post-punk attire. We seem far too quick to label any angry music from the past 8 months as some sort of attack on Trump’s America; conversely, it seems many artists are finding it too easy to feign rage to sell records. But Protomartyr are the real deal, and not just because they are infinitely smarter than most artists trying to tackle the clockwork orange in the White House – it’s because they resist making the context too specific.

Relatives in Descent is about far more than just the current balance of power: it’s about the balance of power as it has been for decades. It’s about older generations leaving behind broken worlds for their children (‘My Children’), the hyper-holisticism of society’s intersecting pathways (‘Half Sister’), the dangers of toxic masculinity (‘Male Plague’) and the anxieties created by small groups of people sitting in rooms deciding our futures (‘Up the Tower’). The reason that works is because those fears are universal, and span as far back as societal angst itself.

The group’s sound is just as unfaltering, playing on the noise rock work of Iceage with a similar understanding of the power in fusing experimentalism with achingly melancholy pop structures. The only difference is that those two ideas are married so closely here that they seem intertwined. On the deeply sad ‘Night-Blooming Cereus’, woozy synths sit amongst a depressing soundscape of spare guitars and Joe Casey’s droning voice, and ‘Don’t Go To Anacita’, whilst bracing and breathless, uses markedly world-weary chord inversions that continue the melancholy suggested across the record.

Highlight: ‘Windsor Hum’

Rating: 9/10

 

Younger Now – Miley Cyrus

The wholesomeness of Cyrus’ new image is to be admired, as is the sincerity of the material on this record (if, indeed, it is sincere and not just some cynical rebrand). But it’s hard to deny that Younger Now is also spineless as a result. It doesn’t help, of course, that Miley Cyrus voice has about the gentleness of a backfiring tractor when heaped onto the kind of milquetoast country-pop that pervades Younger Now, but the songwriting itself has an almost offensive dullness.

I say ‘almost’ because, of course, it’s not a maliciously bad album. It is, by its very nature, nondescript. It’s like a child making up a song about mud: of course it’s bad, but it’s harmless too, and it was never going to be good anyway.

Highlight: ‘Inspired’

Rating: 4/10

 

 

Now – Shania Twain

I won’t lie by saying I didn’t enjoy huge stretches of Shania Twain’s admittedly, and probably deliberately, dramatic comeback album. The opening set of tracks felt like a slog, but once Twain learns to let go of the seriousness of those first few songs, particularly on the more heavily genre-influenced ‘Who’s Gonna Be Your Girl’ and ‘More Fun’, everything becomes… well, more fun.

Highlight: ‘Let’s Kiss and Make Up’

Rating: 6/10

 

Visions of a Life – Wolf Alice

Far too often on Visions of a Life, Wolf Alice find themselves stuck in a rut. What made them feel so revolutionary on My Love Is Cool was the diversity of their material, ranging from that animalistic alternative sound to a more tender pop side, all under the glittery umbrella of being ‘the others’, the ‘them’, the ‘they’. On their second album, they simply resort to shock tactics: seemingly sending a song one direction then flying off the tracks in another, too harshly using a quiet-loud dynamic, and sacrificing attention to craft for anything that gels together well. Moments of inspiration fly through the albums narrow purview, but it’s an uneven affair.

Highlight: ‘Heavenward’

Rating: 5/10

 

DUD OF THE WEEK: Ash – Ibeyi

Through a garbled narrative echoing into the hollow remains of Beyoncé’s Lemonade, Ibeyi’s Ash ends up being a series of sonic mistakes and thematic failings. The sister duo’s hokey reliance on autotune, which they make no point in hiding, simply distracts from any substance in their vocal performances, and their sense of texture extends mainly to cheap synth sounds that remind the listener of the last time their pipes started playing up.

Equally sad is how much this misshapen sonic disaster muffles what could have been a better album, although the lyrical content actually here doesn’t exactly do the themes any favours either. The duo sample Michelle Obama’s speech on women in America on ‘No Man Is Big Enough For My Arms’, but to what end? In place of real explorations of female empowerment comes empty platitudes on beauty in nature that hints at themes better examined in other feminist pieces.

Highlight: ‘I Wanna Be Like You’

Rating: 4/10

Music Review 25/8/17 – The War on Drugs, Queens of the Stone Age and more…

The Music Review is a weekly set of capsule reviews on the biggest releases of the previous week, all curated by myself. Each week has an Album of the Week and a Dud of the Week (although, let it be said that the Dud is rarely a particularly awful album, just the one that I deem the weakest of that week’s big releases). The format allows for more reviews to make their way into the website without laboriously long essays on each album getting published.

In what has to be the best week for new releases this entire summer, The War on Drugs and Queens of the Stone Age return and BROCKHAMPTON unleash their hip-hop sequel…

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: A Deeper Understanding – The War on Drugs

How do you follow up the perfect rock record? Moreover, how did anyone expect Adam Granduciel to expand on a sound so meticulously crafted on a record like Lost in the Dream? It seemed as though the touchstones that made that album so wonderful, and the way that Granduciel twisted them into his own dreamlike shapes, could only be done right once. Certainly, the progression from that last album to this one is subtle. Tonally, it’s the same expansive sound that feels like it’s trying desperately to take in the landscape of a ravaged America before it disappears. His songwriting largely takes a similar stance as well; in between longing balladry is tight-fisted driving rock that continues to thrill and inspire three years later.

But his arrangements and production choices are sometimes bombastic. Often the dazzling busyness of the sonic tapestry feels like a million fireflies battling inside your eyes, or like a sunset exploding into a supernova. But, when the bleary-eyed emotional sucker punches clear to let you see properly, the craft is astounding. From the muscular, pounding drums on opener ‘Up All Night’ to the shimmering synths on ‘Holding On’, Granduciel’s studio trickery has advanced tenfold in the past few years and has mutated his sound into a classic rock geek’s wet dream. A Deeper Understanding is, for all intents a purposes, a proper rock record, the kind they don’t make anymore: blockbuster-quality, emotionally gratifying and rewarding to no end.

Highlight: ‘Holding On’

Verdict: 10/10

 

Saturation II – BROCKHAMPTON

The best sequels are ones that do something notably different to their predecessor but somehow improve on precisely what the original did in the first place. By that measure, Saturation II succeeds pretty brilliantly. By this point we have a clue as to BROCKHAMPTON’s identity and ethos, as exhibited on their Janus-headed ambivalent debut, Saturation, by turns sounding like Death Grips and Frank Ocean, often only a few tracks apart. It was a blindsiding, if a little messy, piece of work that impressed because of its schizophrenic nuttiness.

Here, the collective has better synthesised their two strands of musical interest, sometimes by rapping with particular precociousness in their flow over a beat that sounds lifted straight from a NAO record. Often the music has a charming, Youtube-mashup quality that works simply because of how zany it is. Yet, it’s controlled; the group never lose their grasp on this tight balancing act, even though they are clearly aiming for a more radio-friendly sound. Indeed, on highlight ‘SUNNY’, the group liberally (and, somehow, unironically) sample the delicious guitar line from Natalie Imbruglia’s ‘Torn’ and make it sound refreshing again, all whilst throwing out explicit lines like ‘It ain’t my birthday yet and I’m acting like a bitch’. That sums up their ethos: a wonderful, unhinged and unholy marriage of the smooth and the gritty.

Highlight: ‘SUNNY’ 

Verdict: 9/10

 

Beast Epic – Iron and Wine

Right at the heart of this record is Samuel Beam’s voice and his guitar. No matter what bouts of wistful headphone trickery, delicious drums or stylistic shifts he can gently weave into this record, he is centre-stage the entire time. It’s refreshing in a way: it’s rare for folk artists now to rely so heavily on their primary weapon of great songwriting. But Beam’s is so warm and inviting, whilst still occasionally diverting itself down paths that might cause a listener to really sit up and listen, that none of the listenability is depleted. Cheap sentimentality isn’t his game; Beam melts your heart with a very simple skill of writing great songs, a quality rare for someone so exposed by their music’s stark style.

Highlight: ‘Bitter Truth’

Verdict: 9/10

 

Villains – Queens of the Stone Age

Mark Ronson should have been death for Queens. Don’t get me wrong; I think Ronson is extremely talented, but it was clear before that his skill was suited to a very specific type of music. What this seemed to signal was a move into AM territory, where style is heaped on top of the substance to an almost suffocating degree. Instead, once the opening salvo ‘Feet Don’t Fail Me’ properly kicks in, the fear dissipates; the groove overtakes any anxieties about something with no soul.

Largely playing like an expansion of Like Clockwork‘s ‘Smooth Sailing’, Villains has such an unmistakeable strut and plays with such force that it actually feels tighter than much of the band’s back catalogue. Indeed, my largest complaint about their weakest album, Lullabies to Paralyse was that there was no focus on the meandering, wishy-washy psychedelic songs that took the ‘stoner’ part of stoner rock a little too literally. By comparison, Villains is as watertight as Ronson’s many pop records, and just as enjoyable too.

Highlight: ‘The Evil Has Landed’

Verdict: 8/10

 

DUD OF THE WEEK: Orc – Oh Sees

It says something about the quality of the releases this week that Orc was very nearly an 8/10. Indeed, for the first half of the album it seemed that way. Pulsating garage rock that pushed the outer limits of the sound managed to achieve what King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have been trying to do properly for years. Yet, the second half is ever-so-slightly underwhelming; it’s unfocussed, and much slower than the opening stretch, and Oh Sees are another artist where the the quality of their music correlates (most of the time, I must stress) to the speed at which the music is performed. I say ‘most of the time’ because it’s on album highlight ‘Keys to the Castle’, a psych-rocker that turns into Porcupine Tree-esque eeriness, that they really stretch their legs. Even despite the flaws of the second half, they even do the courtesy of leaving the album on a high note: across an album of absolutely stellar drumming from Paul Quattrone and Dan Rincon, closer ‘Raw Optics’ is the place where that drumming becomes truly interstellar stuff.

To call it a dud almost feels unfair; it is the weakest release of the week, but by a hair. It’s confident, expertly played and features some quality songwriting. Don’t be fooled by the format of this review; Orc is just as worth checking out as this week’s other releases.

Highlight: ‘Keys to the Castle’

Verdict: 7/10

Music Review 18/8/17 – Grizzly Bear, Everything Everything and more…

The Music Review is a weekly set of capsule reviews on the biggest releases of the previous week, all curated by myself. Each week has an Album of the Week and a Dud of the Week (although, let it be said that the Dud is rarely a particularly awful album, just the one that I deem the weakest of that week’s big releases). The format allows for more reviews to make their way into the website without laboriously long essays on each album getting published.

British indie artists Ghostpoet and Everything Everything both follow up their 2015 records, and symphonic rock contemporaries Grizzly Bear stage a comeback…

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Dark Days and Canapés – Ghostpoet

Ghostpoet’s vision of a post-punk hip-hop was a welcome surprise on Shedding Skin, but Dark Days and Canapés is a far tighter, far more focussed record. Often, the arrangements, though sometimes bursting with noise, are actually quite skeletal: sharp guitars coil themselves around startlingly imaginative drum performances without ever being claustrophobic(mix-wise, anyway). Ghostpoet’s ruminations on society feel pinched, though, viewing both himself and the outside world through the prism of a rainy window. ‘Immigrant Boogie’s deadpan dissection of sinking ships and dying refugees is humour black as night (‘It’s just the boat’s going down and I don’t think we wanna stay’), and ‘Freakshow’ seems to lay the blame on a corporate wasteland (‘I guess Westfield knows what I want’).

Of course, Ghostpoet’s more cryptic lyricism here is all in favour of the more matured, complex instrumentals, all joyous to see unfold. Richer instruments are sparingly used (pianos rarely appear in the foreground here), and the melodic structure that defined much of Shedding Skin is much less predictable. Chord progressions take on totally different shapes in Ghostpoet’s hands, and all the better for it: he’s one of the best people working in British music today.

Highlight: ‘Freakshow’

Verdict: 8/10

 

Across the Multiverse – Dent May

With a squidgy voice that would make Panda Bear swoon, a bubbly 80s sheen that would make Dan Bejar blush and songwriting that sounds like Paul McCartney and Randy Newman just threw something together, Dent May might wear his influences on his sleeve too readily. Certainly, in comparison to contemporary heartbreak crooner Tobias Jesso Jr, he’s a lot more obvious about the Californian cartoonish kitsch. But it’s sometimes irresistibly sweet, and doesn’t throw the self-loathing melodrama in your face nearly as much as fans of this kind of music might like, which is refreshing.

Highlight: ‘Face Down in the Gutter of Your Love’

Verdict: 7/10

 

A Fever Dream – Everything Everything

Everything Everything’s lyrical explorations have always been societal (exploring how relationships on small and large scales fit together), but more importantly, Jonathan Higgs has been fascinated by how his own vocals can shape the way language sounds. It can be smooth and velvet-y or it can be sharp, angular, crisp. The spikiness of lines such as ‘The concrete burns at the back of your skull’, on opener ‘Night of the Long Knives’, accentuates each velar (‘k’, ‘c’) consonant with the ferocity of an animal.

In fact, the marriage of animalism and sophistication has meant just as much to their music as their lyrics, here pushed to further extremes wherever possible: the heavy moments are harsher and more blunt, but the pop moments glow beautifully. Getting that balance, particularly for a band who have such freneticism in their arrangements, is difficult, but, for the most part, they pull it off. A short lull mid-album (‘Big Game’ follows three heart-pounding tracks) does nothing to detract from the overall effect of a fantastic pop album.

Highlight: ‘Night of the Long Knives’

Verdict: 8/10

 

Painted Ruins – Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear still haven’t managed to get themselves out of a very specific rut: they make music that is, by design, architecturally impressive, labyrinthine in structure and elasticated in its arrangements. The way they bend their own songs over the course of what is usually still a four-minute pop track is part-and-parcel of their work. Yet, it feels cold and mechanical because of this precise style. Up-close and invasive in its own psychedelic wonder, with a beautiful sound to back it up, but distant from any emotive connection created by the music.

Such as it is, Painted Ruins ultimately becomes too meandering and tedious to keep up with. That’s not to say I don’t admire the thought: ‘Mourning Sound’ still manages to put together a pretty nifty pop track despite its placement of puzzle-box craft over emotive thrust. But thought is all this album has to offer, and although it offers said quality in droves, I couldn’t help but feel shortchanged by it.

Highlight: ‘Mourning Sound’

Verdict: 7/10

 

DUD OF THE WEEK: To the Bone – Steven Wilson

From prog-rock trailblazer Steven Wilson, off the back of his transcendental work with Porcupine Tree and several successful solo albums, comes the pop event of the year: the number one album, To the Bone! Do you want an album that’s basically loads of stuff that sounds like other stuff? Would you rather that your prog-rock heroes ditched the wishy-washy Pink Floyd continuations (who needs jazz guitar anyway?!?!?) and just made a proper rock record, thank you very much? Do you fucking love Tears for Fears (‘Nowhere Now’), Genesis (‘To the Bone’) and Kate Bush (‘Pariah’)? Then To the Bone is the album for you! And, as a bonus for buying the album and making it number one in the UK, we’ll throw in a brand-new Electric Light Orchestra track, ‘Permanating’! So what are you waiting for? Buy the biggest identity crisis in rock music now with Steven Wilson’s To the Bone!

Highlight: ‘To the Bone’

Verdict: 6/10

Best Albums of 2016: No. 1 – Blackstar by David Bowie

I will be the first to admit that this was a late decision. I was already writing the rest of the list when I decided Blackstar would be my number one. But, looking back at when Blonde had been the top choice which it had been pretty much since its release, I’m still puzzled by how I could have neglected this from the top spot. Of course Blackstar is the best album of 2016. ‘Is there any album more consistently brilliant, more bold and adventurous, more repeatable and more likely to be remembered by musical historians from the last 12 months?’ I asked myself. The answer is, quite simply, no. But let me expand for those who are somehow confused.

For a start, Bowie doesn’t mince around. Each track is crafted with its own specific place in the tracklisting. The sonic pallette on the album is absolutely wild, and completely of Bowie’s own design. He draws on a dizzying range of genres, all of which feel perfectly in tune with each other. ‘Blackstar’s wailing jazztronica, ‘Tis A Pity She Was A Whore’s stunning duality between booming rhythm and sultry horn sections, ‘Sue (Or, In A Season of Crime)’, originally a jazz-fusion jam, rendered here as a pulsating orgy of drum’n’bass, noise rock, drill and soul, ‘Girl Loves Me’ and its skittish, industrial funk: no musical corner is left untouched.

Lyrically, its not something that’s just been thrown together either: each song brings its own strange, decadent sensibilities to the stage, spinning stories of wayward women, spirits, murder, sex, secrecy and fear, or at least, we think that’s what it’s about. The lyrics remain cryptic all these months later, with the only thing linking them being the spectre of the end.

Come on, we had to mention it at some point. It might seem an overstated observation at this point, but Blackstar‘s now immortalised story is that Bowie created the album as a companion piece to his own death, treating both as equal parts of a singular work of art. Trust Bowie, eh? But then, to treat this feat as anything less than spectacularly impressive is foolish of us: not only is it a massive achievement to have created something as earth-shattering as this, but it is also a testament to his version of artistic vision that his own act of finality was to release an album of and about that finality.

Blackstar‘s lasting legacy might be the death of its parent artist, but of all the albums that this can be said of (In UteroPink MoonCloser), none have the same impact as this one. None can claim to have their artist’s death intertwined into the fabric of their being. The 48 hours in which the album and a living Bowie existed together were fruitful but they are remnants now. I doubt Bowie would have even wanted us to remember Blackstar with the impression of him still being alive. We’re not meant to appreciate Blackstar by itself. It’s not just about the artist: it is the artist. Mysterious, complex, bold, ever-changing, unfixed by the constraints of others. It’s a shame that Bowie’s most impressive artistic endeavour since The Berlin Trilogy had to come immediately before his death, and it’s arguable that it still would have been wall-rattling without that incident. It’s easily his most adventurous work since Station to Station, which, by all accounts, makes it possibly his finest album. But if that’s the case without his ghost to haunt its dark corners, and it is relentlessly dark, save for the gorgeous final track, then think how brilliant it must be with that event in mind. It’s unlikely we’ll ever truly understand all the secrets of Blackstar, but, as Bowie’s final words to the mortals read so clearly, ‘I can’t give everything away’.

Best Albums of 2016: No. 2 – Blonde by Frank Ocean

When we become melancholy, we tend to shut ourselves away from the world. People who were once outgoing, precocious, confident and witty people become frightened, awkward and shy. Is this what happened to Frank Ocean? Maybe. Or maybe he’s been like this all along and hid that fearful, stumbling persona behind a boyish facade on Channel Orange. It would make sense. All the way through that record, there was a feeling that he was keeping something from us. I think we all assumed it was some sort of meaning behind life, given how much he enjoyed satirising those who didn’t have any meaning to theirs. But, looking back, I think it was something else: it was the fact that he is just as confused and terrified as the rest of us about love in all its forms.

Blonde is a collection of poems about love, sex, relationships and the way people see others around them, but more than that, it’s a series of odes to lonerism. Outside of the references to Trayvon Martin (and even then, that’s used in reference to Ocean’s identity crisis regarding his physical similarity to the murdered teen) and other shooting victims, Ocean feels remarkably out of touch with everything outside his own mind. Guest stars pass through almost unnoticed, the most outgoing of them being André 3000’s verse on ‘Solo (Reprise), and Ocean’s experiences with heartbreak are documented with stunning clarity of vision. Whether it be digital impersonalisation, unrequited love, drunk self-motivation or the lifelessness of his sexual experiences, Ocean displays himself bare, becoming almost unrecognisable from the cocky, sneering popstar on Channel Orange.

It’s also a sensational step forward in his songwriting. Although the entire concept is best presented in full, the individual songs sound like they’ve all come from a handbook of brilliant R&B writing, but without the emphasis on rhythm. It’s about atmosphere, and keeping the lyrics right in the centre of the frame. Still, it’s difficult to deny the pure power of ‘Nights’ mournful guitars, ‘Solo’s melancholy organ or the sonic weirdness of ‘Pretty Sweet’s awesome breakdown section. It’s adventurously small for a world-famous star, but it works because of the bare-faced honesty of the thing.paytm app

Nevertheless, the piece is best appreciated from start to finish. A meditation on the complexities of love, it might be entirely about Ocean, but the feeling of the album is universal: we’ve all felt how ‘Solo’ sounds, and he knows it. Yet, he hides his face out of embarrassment on both versions of the album art: one in a nonchalant biker’s helmet, and the other, more popular one with his hand in what looks like a shower. Vulnerable and unable to face his audience, the endless mystery of the man behind the hand becomes so much deeper here than it ever has been, and his craft becomes deeper and more awesome than anyone ever thought it could be.

Best Albums of 2016: No. 3 – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service by A Tribe Called Quest

It should be extremely difficult to justify Tribe’s existence in 2016. Their early work, though seminal and still groundbreaking today, is so fixed to its own time period that it sounds totally alien to the likes of Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Kanye West et al. It’s simple and direct, and hardly relies on technical wizardry in nearly the same capacity as the contemporaries. Yet, here I am proclaiming it to be the best hip-hop album of the year, mostly because it is the sound of a group firing on all the cylinders that made them great in the first place.

The wizardry is in the wordplay, as all the members of the group get the chance to expand on an already huge scope of lyrical ideas. They weave timeless elegies of racism, division, remembrance and solidarity that bounce off each other effortlessly, like the group had never been apart. Less the result of trying too hard and more of simply doing it, the album could sit comfortably alongside their 80s and 90s output without feeling out of place, and they still sound as fresh-faced as they did back then.

But now, the stakes are even higher. Reeling from the death of one of their own, instead of fetishising his death into a novelty, Phife Dawg’s verses are used to explore the wider social issues of systematic racism and hatred, with the group wisely choosing to pursue his vision and finish the masterpiece that they had started. Yes, he is given a fitting farewell, but so much more of the album is dedicated to completing the work, just as he would have wanted. And although it feels like it could exist in any period from the original works until now, it’s as timely as ever. Its raw passion and modern angst smacks of youth, yet its profound meditations on futility and the importance of understanding one another is a symbol of wisdom only achievable from experience. That the group toes that line so deftly is what makes this such a great album. It will remind you of why you loved Tribe in the first place, or it will finally convince you of their greatness.

Best Albums of 2016: No. 4 – 22, A Million by Bon Iver

Five years, the world patiently waited. After five years, it looked unlikely that we would ever see his rosy face peering out from his cabin again. As it turned out, he’d simply been building another one out of computers, frayed wires and makeshift guitars, and we all get to live in it for 34 minutes.

In those 34 minutes, there is balladry, computer glitches, broken autotune units, drums the size of rocketships, voices as small as mice and an overwhelming atmosphere that envelopes the listener. Easily his most musically adventurous album to date, the arrangements are so uncannily confident that songs as bombastic as ’33 GOD’ and ‘666 (upsidedowncross)’ and as sparse as ‘715 Creeks’ and ‘___45___’ can exist on the same album and feel completely in concordance with each other. It’s weird and jarring, but only enough so that when an organic instrument bursts into the clearing, like the chiming guitars on ’22 (Over Soon)’, it feels like coming home and being shot through the heart with a beam of sunlight.

The meaning is still as foggy as ever, though. ‘I’d be happy as hell if you’d stay for tea’, Vernon laments on ’33 GOD’, suggesting some rural innocence that we cannot understand. The very first line of the album seems to suggest some overbearing message about personal acceptance (‘So where you gonna look for confirmation/and if it’s ever gonna happen’) but then we still never quite understand. Perhaps that’s why ‘00000 Million’ hits so hard: ‘I worry ’bout shame’, Vernon cries amongst a distant piano and almost nothing else. It’s like closing time at the bar, and although we can’t quite remember how or why we got there, we know that whatever comes next might be brilliant. If that’s the final lesson of 22, A Million, I’d say it’s just about Vernon’s finest piece of work yet.

Best Albums of 2016: No. 7 – A Seat at the Table by Solange

Heaping praise on Beyoncé’s album would make sense for the music journalism world: she’s an international superstar making an album that is current and filled with unexpected musical surprises, as well as forging a totally new identity for herself whilst retaining those key qualities that made her a superstar in the first place. The trouble with all this, of course, is that her younger sister did everything better.

A Seat at the Table is not loud. It’s not bombastic, it’s not aggressive, it doesn’t even feel particularly harsh. Instead, its brave tribal-neo-soul constantly simmers at boiling point, crackling with the angst and impassioned furore of an entire race, as though Solange carries the African-American population of the United States on her shoulders through every street and building in the country. How it deals with issues of pro-blackness, white dominance and ignorant racism subverts all notion of conformity, whether it be the exploration of hypocritical disrespect towards black tradition on ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’, the personal portrayal of intimate pain on ‘Cranes in the Sky’, the fiery independence and much-needed vocalisation of African-American values in the intelligently placed interludes or a simple, melancholy overview of the dissonance of the nation, after years of work.

Part of the reason the thematic conceptualisation works so well is because Solange’s musical trappings are so compelling: organic percussion that subtly underpins bold string arrangements, seething electric piano sequences, twinkling synths and full-blooded bass has the power to knock one off guard. It breathes so well because of the empty space between the instruments, avoiding overkill to allow that pointed anger to seep into the spaces. Totally unique and sometimes quite breathtaking, Solange has not only put her work within the seminal ‘Black Album’ movement taking shape right now, but, with her impassioned confidence, has made the feminist answer to To Pimp A Butterfly.

Best Albums of 2016: No. 9 – A Moon Shaped Pool by Radiohead

Radiohead’s career feels like a rabbit hole: the further down you go, the more you find, yet the further down they went, the harder it was to see them coming back up. The King of Limbs is still a murky, questionable late-period effort from Radiohead, an impersonal series of glitchy half-compositions that never come to true fruition as songs in their own right. It was seeming less and less likely not that they would come back up from the rabbit hole, but that they would come back at all: nobody heard almost anything from them in terms of concrete music details for ages. Even when A Moon Shaped Pool was released, it was with a certain sense of quiet transaction, as though the group just wanted to hand the album to the people and then get back in out of the rain. Fittingly, A Moon Shaped Pool mostly sounds like just that. It’s distant, hushed, shivering. With the exception of the skittish and intense ‘Burn the Witch’, each track quivers with an undeniable fragility, each instrument lacing itself into the framework of the music. Nigel Godrich’s production is so distinct that every part has definition to it, yet the overall whole is awash with the feeling of being underwater, of aimlessly floating in cold waters with no ground to place your feet on.

The definition in the instruments is important, of course, since the instrumentation is part of what makes the album so down-to-earth: there’s no aimless fiddling with pads, little of the crackling drumming of In Rainbows and so much less musical complexity than its predecessors. It’s organic and breathes naturally with what feels like our own heartbeats, or, more precisely, Thom Yorke’s. Reportedly, the album was mainly a response to their divorce, and it shows: Pool is the most honest and decidedly uncomplicated he’s ever been. It’s almost painfully perfect that the entire thing ends with their most pure, beautiful song possibly ever, and one that has been rendered here, after years of hiding tucked away in live recordings, as something more intimate than one could imagine music to get: ‘True Love Waits’ has the power to snap one’s heart in two with its ambiguous final words. ‘Don’t leave’, Yorke howls like a dog left outside to mope. A shaky metaphor, maybe, but that kind of commitment and that kind of ache? That’s what drives A Moon Shaped Pool, and it’s the group’s most natural, simple and reflective piece of work that will undoubtedly stand amongst their finest works.

Run the Jewels 3 Confirmed, New Track Shared


Run the Jewels have shared the track- and guest-list for Run the Jewels 3 and it is an absolute doozy. Not only are the wonderful tracks ‘2100’ and ‘Talk To Me’ on the album, the roll call also includes Kamasi Washington, Danny Brown and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. 

As if the news couldn’t get any better, the duo have been generous enough to share ‘Legend Has It’ with us as well, the newest single to come out of the third record.

To top it all off, it will be released in the week that Trump ascends to the throne.

So that’ll be interesting.

Listen to ‘Legend Has It’ here:

https://youtu.be/QaPrQa3oMy0

Run the Jewels 3 will be released 13th January 2017.

Radiohead announce new album, release PT Anderson-directed video for ‘Daydreaming’

Surprise!

Radiohead’s new album is officially being digitally released tomorrow at 7pm BST, with a physical release on June 17th. Although there are no details as to the tracklist, two tracks, including this week’s ‘Burn The Witch’ and yesterday’s new release ‘Daydreaming’, have been given a single release to lead up to the album.

‘Daydreaming’ evokes the soundscaped compositional work of guitarist Jonny Greenwood’s solo work and Kid A‘s serene electronic manipulations, creating something that is quietly beautiful, a 6-minute heartbeat to live inside until the release of the album, still yet-to-be-named.

Watch the video, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, below:

Watch the ‘Burn The Witch’ video below:

The new Radiohead album is out digitally tomorrow.

Prince, Singer, Dead At 57

86103158The publicist of Prince has confirmed that at the age of 57, the legendary singer, writer of works such as Sign O’ The Times1999 and Purple Rain, and the star of the film of the same name, has died at his home in Paisley Park. After his plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Illinois, he was rushed to hospital last week. Today, police had been called to his recording studio in Paisley Park.

R.I.P., Prince Rogers Nelson. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.

Catfish and the Bottlemen announce sophomore album, The Ride

ArticleSharedImage-61657

After the pulsating rock of ‘Soundcheck’, Catfish have finally given the artwork and name for their upcoming follow-up to 2014’s The Balcony and we are very excited. The Ride will feature live staple ‘7’ and recently released single ‘Soundcheck’, the video for which accompanied the announcement this morning.

About the album, the group’s social network statement said

‘We started recording this album at any chance we could get, in between shows over the summer. And, after the final night on ‘The Balcony’ tour finished we were set to have some time off but couldn’t wait and didn’t think yous should have to either after the run you gave us. So, went straight in to finish the 2nd Album. We made it out in Los Angeles with a producer and hero of ours that we’ve dreamt of working since we were kids… D. SARDY…. the game-changer! This man made the songs and the albums we grew up listening to. The ones that made us want to sound like the band we are, so to go in and actually record our album together with him was a real honour and the best craic we’ve had! 

Our new record is out the last Friday in May and is called ‘The Ride’ …which is a lyric from the last, and probably, my favourite tune on there. That song’s called ‘Outside’ and It just sounds absolutelyyyyymasssssssive..SideshowBob’sDrumsMate#…ARMSUP#!!!! Alongside you selling these shows out for us, this album is by far the proudest I’ve ever been about anything I’ve written and us 4 have ever done together! Can’t wait for you to hear this yknow! Started this band and I honestly can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for all of us from day 1 right up to now… you’ve been unreal! A completely different league in fact! You’ve properly changed 4 lads lives here y’know, selling out Bowls in Castlefield 8,000 people strong in 5 minutes and winning us brits and all that stuff… It’s just mad and we’ll be grafting all year to ensure things keep growing and these new gigs and new albums keep coming rapidly and in their droves!’

The Ride tracklist:

  1. 7
  2. Twice
  3. Soundcheck
  4. Postpone
  5. Anything
  6. Glasgow
  7. Oxygen
  8. Emily
  9. Red
  10. Heathrow
  11. Outside

Watch the video for ‘Soundcheck’ below:

The Ride arrives 27th May 2016 on Island Records.

LISTEN – First taste of Biffy Clyro’s seventh LP, Ellipsis, with ‘Wolves of Winter’

Despite the second half of double album Opposites being an absolute dud, the first half had some brilliant tunes. ‘Wolves of Winter’ maybe doesn’t quite reach the heights of ‘Black Chandelier’, ‘Sounds Like Balloons’, ‘Opposite’, ‘Little Hospitals’, ‘Biblical’ et al. but it’s a sight better than ‘Stingin’ Belle’. What really makes the track is the production: the songwriting is solid enough and is pretty standard Biffyfare (angular guitars, Bonham-style drums, sweaty shirtless shouting men etc.), but the sound of the record is absolutely humongous, like the best of them. It evokes the first time you heard the final breakdown of ‘Bubbles’ or the refrain in ‘Little Hospitals’ in its massiveness. There’s no real way of telling whether the whole album will turn out as heavy as this one (Opposites certainly didn’t) but it’s safe to say there’s definitely a Biffy sound set in stone with this one.

Neil said about the album, “We’ve taken a lot of influence from recent hip-hop records, like the latest A$AP Rocky – they’re so fucking good because they’ve got really grimy, dirty, horrible sounds with beautiful vocals, or vice versa. We’re trying to get that balance of things teetering on the edge of chaos the entire time. It’s going to sound like Biffy, but it’s about ‘rocking’ instead of ‘rock’.”

You can hear the track through Apple Music and iTunes or on Vimeo.

Ellipsis is out July 8.

 

Sir George Martin: 1926-2016

2016’s cold, brutal hand has taken another music legend from our midst: the brilliant, ingenious Sir George Martin, producer of The Beatles, co-writer of one of the best Bond themes ever, and probably the most important technological figure in music history, has very sadly passed away at the age of 90. Last night, at his home in London, he died in his sleep, with his death being announced by Ringo Starr on Twitter, followed by a confirmation from Universal Records as to his passing.

Even aged 90, it’s extremely saddening news to say goodbye to the man. I had a personal connection to him via my dad, who was in a band with Martin’s son, Giles, before I was born. I’ve had the privilege to meet Sir George several times, albeit at a much younger age: below is a wonderful picture of myself aged no more than 3 with Sir George and Giles at the Martin home in London.

Tom and Sir George

Although it is a deeply affecting news, it can be said that Sir George’s mark on the cultural world was immeasurable. He is the main reason why there is a solid argument for The Beatles being objectively the most important musical artists in the last few centuries. Their methods of production, structure, arrangement and recording were unheard of before, and yet it was due to Sir George’s incredible talent that they were able to get away with it. It says something about the greatness of his skill and ear that I could probably sit here and write a whole essay on just the tom sound for ‘Come Together’, it sounds so good.

Such a wonderful human was lost last night and his mark on cultural history shines through in the DNA of popular culture still. Our thoughts are with his wife, Judy Lockhart-Smith, his children and his friends and family.

RIP, Sir George.

Kendrick Lamar surprises fans with eight-track album, Untitled Unmastered

Untitled Unmastered

Damn, Kendrick, back at it again with those sweet tracks.

Kendrick Lamar, after his soaring victory at the Grammys, has gone straight into releasing new material. Untitled Unmastered is, as its title and spare artwork would suggest, extremely raw and dark, and doesn’t come with the weighty expectations that many thought the follow-up to To Pimp A Butterfly would be. Dodging such a dangerous thing as crowd expectation is probably the smartest thing he could do.

The album is also shrouded in mystery: little is known about who produced the tracks, and stories are being thrown around about it. Swizz Beatz claimed his 5-year-old son produced the 7th track, suitably titled ‘untitled 07 | 2014-2016’. Perhaps that’s the aim of the game: keep them guessing.

Review of the album to be posted soon.

Weezer Announce The White Album

After the release of their surprise new singles ‘Thank God For Girls’ and ‘Do You Wanna Get High?’, Weezer have announced that those singles were lead-ups to their new album, the fourth self-titled album in their catalogue. Following the familiar colour scheme, they have decided to take a leaf out of The Beatles’ book and go white. This comparison to The Beatles, apparently, is not a new thing: their decision to call the new album Weezer (The White Album) was met with the occasional critic saying ‘The Beatles did it first’, despite the fact that The Beatles’ white album was actually just called The Beatles and we started calling it The White Album.

Below, you can see the tracklisting and the artwork for the album, which is released April 1st.

14-weezer-white-album.w529.h529

  1. California Kids
  2. Wind in Our Sail
  3. Thank God for Girls
  4. (Girl We Got A) Good Thing
  5. Do You Wanna Get High?
  6. King of the World
  7. Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori
  8. L.A. Girlz
  9. Jacked Up
  10. Endless Bummer

 

Mercury Prize 2015 Nominees Ranked

We are less than a week away from the most prestigious music award in Britain being awarded and given the opportunity we have to analyse and break down the nominees, I feel as though we should make the most of it. So guess what we’re going to do?

12. Hairless Toys by Roisin Murphy

Here’s the problem with Hairless Toys: as much as it feels as though Murphy has had a series of numerous brilliant ideas, there is a real sense here that she has attempted to piece them together as best she can but with no through-line. There is nothing particularly holding the album together, and so it becomes precisely what it was conceived as: a series of ideas. It’s not even as though the ideas themselves are not fleshed out enough, some are explored in great detail: it’s how they are pieced together which is questionable here, and so the entire thing feels underdeveloped rather than the parts which comprise it.

11. Eska by Eska

Eska’s primary vibe is that of the explorative diva, someone whose mystery is their greatest weapon: she fuses jazz, R&B and pop together across the self-titled debut, which is exactly as Mercury Prize-ish as it sounds. Unfortunately, a large part of the problem here is that for all her genre-hopping, she never feels as though she is sending any of the styles forward particularly, or even doing anything new with them. It’s not derivative but it’s not individual either, making it even less interesting. And yet, for sheerly existing, it’s easy to see why this album is nominated in the first place.

10. At Least For Now by Benjamin Clementine

Clementine’s entry in the list is one which sounds more like a theatrical endeavour, as his sing-speaking style might suggest. The voice itself is wonderful by the way, you really should hear it. Such a collection of songs, although occasionally drifting out of touch from Clementine’s control, is completely his own. It’s something that fits in comfortably with the preconceptions of baroque chamber pop without attempting to copy it, and Clementine has made something worth being proud of. Despite this, the album does rather outstay its welcome, not in an intruding sense but just because it feels as though its point has been made around seven songs in, and Clementine didn’t feel that seven was enough, a fair assumption for sure. To call it Mercury bait in the same way that a film like Suffragette is Oscar bait feels unfair but there is a sense that the Mercury was made for things like this.

9. Matador by Gaz Coombes

Coombes is probably more renowned amongst the younger of us through his wonderful work on the John Lewis advert with his cover of The Kinks’ ‘This Time Tomorrow’, so to have him come out with something like this was startling at first. Matador isn’t traditional pop music in any sense, much more thoughtful and ethereal, more layered. Perhaps it may sound like a blow to Coombes when I say that I wouldn’t normally attribute any of those qualities to him normally but ultimately it’s true, this is an odd step in his career. Not necessarily one I find incredibly interesting but definitely noteworthy, for sure.

8. Are You Satisfied? by Slaves

One of the indie bands I’ve been championing for a while now is Kent punks Slaves, and here is the recognition their abrasive sound needs. What makes the debut great is how self-assured they are, and how uncompromising they are. Undeniably there’s an appeal on the surface of it, in that the hooks are memorable and the structure is familiar, but ultimately it’s angry and screeching. It’s really meant to be experienced live but the sound on the record isn’t far off, even if the volume might be.

7. Architect by C Duncan

Duncan is taking a large leaf out of Beach House’s book here, and faces the same problem that any dream pop artist might face: keeping the music within the genre without making it dull. However, despite signs that Duncan might slip into that trap a couple of times, the album is fairly consistent. There’s a real art school vibe to the record, which evokes images of the pastoral psychedelia that early Pink Floyd and their compadres in Strawberry Fields liked to do. Duncan’s voice is reminiscent of the fluffy voice that last year’s nominee East India Youth gave us, but the record itself manages to be able to sit still a lot more then East’s did. Perhaps it could be seen as being too placid but at least it’s consistent.

6. Before We Forgot How To Dream by Soak

Soak’s debut is based on a core principle of finding heartbreaking beauty in sparse simplicity, following in the footsteps of Bon Iver’s debut eight years ago, and whilst Soak doesn’t quite reach the same level of aching euphoria, she is mature beyond her years. I think that at this point a Mercury nomination is important, because it’s clear from the sound that she exudes from Before is something that is begging to be expanded upon, however largely or minutely that be. In any case, Soak provides a significantly less obvious antidote to the Brits’ everyday folk stars that seem to pop up every which way nowadays.

5. Syro by Aphex Twin

At this point, for all of the gladness I have that Aphex has finally been recognised as a genius by Mercury, most of the artists that are on these shortlists now have already taken Aphex’s influence and run far with it. He seems as though he is merely the token British legend, like Bowie and Albarn before him, who has to appear on the list for the sake of Mercury being as varied as possible. But as much as I like Syro, and as much as it is brilliant that Aphex has been nominated, he has received an almost insurmountable amount of praise over the 30 years that he has been working, with his debut regarded as one of the best in its genre, ‘Windowlicker’ probably being lauded about a thousand times as being a weird and wonderful masterpiece and constant dispute still ongoing as to whether his masterpiece is Drukqs or Richard D. James. So does Syro need to win? Well, even discounting the fact that it’s not nearly the best of the nominees, Aphex knows he’s great. We don’t need to remind him.

4. How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful by Florence + the Machine

When looking at the cover of Florence and co.’s new record, it seems to echo the cream-and-black-lettering of Fleetwood Mac’s 70s bestsellers, and I would go so far as to say that, similarly to Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, this is by far the poppiest album that Flo has done. From pop rock opener ‘Ship To Wreck’ through heartbreak anthem ‘What Kind of Man’ and ambient folk number ‘St Jude’there is much less reliance on theatrics and massive cathedral antics. It’s kept between us and the band, and I like that. How Big is most definitely The Machine’s best album yet.

3. Shedding Skin by Ghostpoet

What a controlled piece of work. It’s without a doubt the tightest record here. Ghostpoet has suddenly become a major player in the hybridisation of genres that seems to be trending a lot at the moment, here fusing chilly post-punk, indie rock, hip-hop and spoken word together into something as deft as it is poignant. In it, Ghostpoet addresses relationships and self-awareness with a startling honesty and clarity. He has a wonderful London drawl to his voice, where words slide off his tongue and he adds a small noise to the end of phrases, almost to point us towards this subtle wisdom, and he is in perfect control here. At no point does it feel as though he’s losing his grasp and yet it also never feels stagnant and hindered. If this won, I would be a happy man.

2. My Love Is Cool by Wolf Alice

So much has been said about how quickly Wolf Alice burst onto the scene, particularly after the almost revisionist EP opener ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ last year. And yet, there’s still something really incredible about My Love Is Cool. It treads the line between newcomer’s shyness and brash confidence in such a way that it feels like a fully-fledged statement as well as a gateway to even more incredible things; that’s saying something, as well, because this is pretty incredible in itself. The amount of alternative ground it covers is massive, as the band channel Massive Attack (‘Turn To Dust’), Pixies (‘You’re A Germ’), Elastica (‘Fluffy’), Sonic Youth (‘Giant Peach’), Mac DeMarco (‘Freazy’) and Can (‘Silk’). But there’s no sense of freneticism, as everything feels encapsulated in the same bubble of work, that of a band who are simultaneously discovering their confidence and only just emerging to the world. It’s a modern indie rock classic, for sure, and cements Wolf Alice as the premiere new British band right now. If this won, I would also be a happy man.

1. In Colour by Jamie xx

For all of the various things I might have said about the other albums being great, there really is no contest here: In Colour is the best dance album we’ve had in years. It’s actually incredibly important in the dance landscape, particularly here in Britain: it’s the antithesis to the stubborn, tuneless, grating, numbing and most of all undanceable dance music that poisons the airwaves and the aux cords of today’s music world. Where has the community gone? Why is it that when brainless drum&bass is playing over the speakers in my college, I look over at the wireless device and all the guys over there are on their phones with their heads bopping lightly to the music? Here, I present you with something in which the artist has put attention into the details, but doesn’t overdo it. He doesn’t overcomplicate it and from that he draws out some absolutely wonderful tracks. Warm synths, lush sub-frequencies in the basslines, lovingly simplistic drum patterns and an absolutely stellar Reading performance to complement it make me have hope for club music, and for dance music in general. LCD Soundsystem broke up 5 years ago now, and even then they drew in punk and electronica just as much as dance. Daft Punk are pop artists now, no doubt about it. Enter Jamie xx, the club spinner who, for me, absolutely deserves the prize. Of course, if Ghostpoet or Wolf Alice took the prize it would be a welcome win. But Jamie is the true winner here.

It’s likely, of course, that one of those three will take the prize at this point so it would be logical to assume, given the Mercury’s recent track record, that none of them will actually take it. We’ll see come Friday.

Must See Acts at Reading and Leeds 2015

The end of the British Summer is approaching, and that means only one thing. An array of British festivals have come and gone, each with their own highs and lows. Glastonbury’s controversial Kanye West headline slot, T in the Park’s boisterous Scottish crowds, the more relaxed Latitude and Bestival featured headline sets from the likes of Alt J.

But now it’s time for Reading and Leeds. If you’re heading up this weekend these are the acts I urge you not to miss!

RAT BOY

Chaotic. Youthful. Rebellious. RAT BOY aka 18 year old troublemaker Jordan Cardy from Essex is a singer songwriter who has recently emerged on to the scene. Sharp, relatable lyrics about growing up, fights, late night takeaways and being sacked from McDonalds accompany a distinctive sound. He records and produces his own music generating a rough DIY feel which doesn’t differ from his shambolic live sets which embrace an air of uncertainty, as though anything could go wrong at any minute. His recent shows feature a level of intimacy and break the barrier between the artists and the fans. London gigs have prompted stage invasions, seen multiple amps being broken and ambulances left right and centre which I was lucky enough to witness first hand. His Reading and Leeds sets are not ones to miss even if they mean waking up before 3 in the afternoon.

What to Expect: A brash, disorderly set with hints of brilliance.

For fans of: Jamie T, The Streets, Damon Albarn’s mockney swagger circa 1994.

Jamie XX

Best known for his work in the XX, Jamie Smith has broken free from that past and established himself as an independent artist by releasing his highly anticipated debut album In Colour this year. The tracks are upbeat summer anthems, the standout track sampling Good Times by The Persuasions. This set will be great for anyone who wants a break from the multiple guitar bands and anyone who enjoys anything from soul to house.

What to Expect: Little crowd interaction, a smooth flowing set, head bobbing.

For fans of: Jungle, Gil Scott Heron, The XX.

Jamie T

Jamie T has had an immense couple of years. Seemingly rising from the dead to releasing a 12 track album, winning multiple NME awards, selling out two nights at Alexandra Palace, and now cementing his place as a must see artist by attracting huge crowds at both Glastonbury and T in the Park. The cocksure, troubadour always puts on a good live show, bouncing around the stage energetically and encouraging the crowd to ‘go mental’ give or take a few expletives. His sets have a perfect blend of all the old crowd favourites as well as new tracks that showcase his progressions as a songwriter. His surprise comeback set at Reading last year was voted the NME best music moment of the year, his attempt to better that on the main stage this year will definitely be a spectacle.

What to Expect: Mosh pits (organised by the man himself) and beer swilling lads on shoulders.

For fans of: The Streets, Joe Strummer, Jamie T (obviously).

Catfish and the Bottlemen

The Bottlemen have also had a phenomenal year going from strength to strength. They’ve proved to be festival favourites, drawing gigantic crowds at both Glastonbury and T in the Park where their guitar anthems went down a treat.  The animated frontman Van Mccann is a natural performer and brings charm and energy to their live sets, often smashing up a guitar or two. Their meat and two veg approach to writing songs isn’t particularly original or innovative but it’s a winning formula and wins over huge crowds.

What to Expect: Crowd surfing, screaming girls, arena style choruses.

For fans of: Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, gobby frontmen.

Slaves

The Kent Punk duo has a formidable live reputation due to gigging on the pub circuit for almost 3 years before making a name for themselves. They clearly don’t take themselves too seriously and they demonstrate this through making fun of their own songs and the like .Despite being made up of only a standing drum kit and a guitar they are a force to be reckoned with, loud, aggressive and raw. The band exerts so much energy between the two of them that it’s exhausting just watching, if you want to release your pent up anger over the weekend then be in that tent.

What to expect: A seething mass of sweaty bodies.

For fans of: Oi!, hearing loss, colossal riffs, tattoos.

The Libertines

The return of the Likely Lads to the main stage at Reading following their triumphant reunion that took place there in 2010. The Libertines are back with a bang! They’ve signed a new record deal with EMI as well as releasing a new single for the first time since 2004. Their sold out show at Hyde Park last summer as well as 2 nights at Alexandra Palace demonstrate that people are still eager to see the group live. This summer they performed a surprise set at Glastonbury and headlined T in the Park so they have experience of playing their new songs under their belt. They’re far from being a refined, polished live band but many iconic bands never were – The Clash for example. It almost adds to the magic, it wouldn’t be a Libertines performance without a number of mishaps. At Glastonbury Pete’s mic stopped working forcing him to share a microphone and bump heads with Carl Barat which was reminiscent of their old ramshackle gigs in their living rooms with limited equipment. This headline slot is a perfect opportunity for the band to give people a glimpse of the upcoming album and their usual anthems will inevitably be well received on the last night of a festival.

What to expect: An emotional performance, new and old songs, bromance.

For fans of: Albion, the noughties, references to obscure poets.