Thursday, 4 February 2016

January: 5 Albums

DAVID BOWIE – Blackstar

Only Bowie could make complexity this accessible. You can have your Bish Bosch, I’ll have Blackstar. It’s a scary record, jazzy and unsettling, and while nothing comes close to the first three songs (note that I still prefer the album version of “Sue”), it will all get imprinted on your psyche for a very long while. Bowie could always put things into context, whatever that context was. 8/10  


I have no idea what her brother is up to these days (or her ex-boyfriends, for that matter), but Eleanor’s third album is just as good as the previous two. Sweet and charismatic, or how else do you explain the effortless way in which she pulls off “Because I Asked You”?.. Just great songwriting. 8/10


I’ve always preferred Portishead, but that’s marginal. Ritual Spirit is one hell of an EP, and I do mean hell. Each of these four songs is creepy and intense in its own particular way, but –unsurprisingly – the collaboration with Tricky works best. “Take It There” is easily the best thing I’ve heard all year. Like “A Wolf At The Door” on painkillers, only better. Better than anything Tricky has done in a decade.  7/10


Each time I listen to a new Mark Kozelek album, I feel like I’m being fucked over. Is he trying? Is this taking self-indulgence to a whole new level? And – this time – what’s with the gushing fan letters? But I just like the style. I realise this is close to cheating (“Exodus” is him talking about the tragic death of Nick Cave’s son) and the shortest song here is six fucking minutes, but as long as you are not a hipster who got into him through Benji (a line from a fan letter)… Jesu add some heaviness, but this is all about Kozelek’s ghosts. 7/10

TINDERSTICKS – The Waiting Room

Tindersticks doing their thing. Intricate, atmospheric music for night people who prefer to stay at home. Lots of pleasant subtleties underneath, and I appreciate that they are trying new things (again, this is all very subtle and only a seasoned fan would notice – or care). “How He Entered” is one of those spoken-word beauties nobody can do as well as them. There’s always a sense that they are teasing you, Tindersticks, never giving you the whole thing. And The Waiting Room is indeed a very intriguing album.  7/10

P.S. Oh, and Ty Segall is boring, Suede’s new album is badly humourless (“Tightrope” is excellent though), and John Cale totally butchered one of his best albums