When people talk about ‘the greats’, it’s always the likes of the Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen and co that get the nods of approval. But what about albums that have been released in more modern times, which haven’t necessarily received the accolades they’ve deserved? Five must-revisit records that spring to mind are these cross-genre gems…
‘another eternity’ — Purity Ring
Indie-electronica that you can’t turn off — that’s about the gist with Purity Ring. The duo beyond these wonderfully whimsical sounds are celebrated by fans of Poliça, Sleigh Bells and Phantogram, so, just from that, you can anticipate being in for synth-led bangers overlaid with deliriously spellbinding female vocals. The moment you press play, you’re whisked off on an enchanting melodic journey, with ‘bodyache’ and ‘push pull’ being early joys. Then things get a tad punchier. The silkiness of ‘repetition’ descends into powerful, almost boastful lyrics, where singer, Megan James, claims “watching me is like watching a fire take your eyes from you”. Further in still, ‘begin again’ is a hypnotic tune, while there’s something darkly intriguing about my personal favourite, ‘flood on the floor’.
‘Black Sands’ — Bonobo
Simon Green, AKA Bonobo, doesn’t monkey around like his animal counterpart might. This man is a low-key tech and soulful dance music legend in the making. I had the pleasure of seeing him play the O2 Academy Leeds in March 2017 and, as expected, he was incredible. The set was electrifying and he didn’t scrimp on working through his back catalogue, which, fortunately, meant wheeling out a good deal of tracks from his triumphant ‘Black Sands’ album. Although this wasn’t his debut, it was the first record of his that I was introduced to. I remember ‘Kong’ instantly gripping my ears (it hasn’t really let them go either), but the mystifying, slightly oriental notes of fierce ‘Kiara’ is gold medal-worthy, too. With the help of Andreya Triana, ‘The Keeper’ and ‘Stay The Same’ are nothing but magical masterpieces.
‘Broken Machine’ — Nothing But Thieves
Back in 2015, when Nothing But Thieves released their self-titled debut album, I covered the review for another site. That’s how I came to know their stuff. And, although that record was fantastic, they turned the heat up a notch on second offering, ‘Broken Machine’. It’s a classic example of a band one-upping themselves and showing what they’re made of, and this release did them proud. It begins explosively with ‘I Was Just a Kid’, which sets out their stall. The hard-hitting ‘Broken Machine’ and ‘I’m Not Made by Design’ are angsty, full-bodied and absolute standouts. But it wouldn’t be a well-formed rock record without a couple of slower numbers — ‘Sorry’ and ‘Particles’ are honest, humble and utterly glorious to listen to.
‘Blak And Blu’ — Gary Clark Jr.
A young Hendrix, perhaps? You’ll have to let me know what you think about that remark, as it might be too bold a statement for you, but I think it packs truth. For me, what I think is so clever about ‘Blak And Blu’ is how it’s sort of split into elements of upbeat rock and roll and some much heavier, riff-driven megaliths. It really is an inspired album. If you’re seeking solace in something ‘happier’, per se, the track ‘Blak and Blu’ sticks to a funky beat, while ‘The Life’ almost goes down the semi-pop route. For fans of the feistier stuff, ‘Numb’ is riotous. It’s borderline grunge and it doesn’t let up, which is why it’s a winner in my book. The more you hear of ‘Bright Lights’, the more you appreciate the wizardry of his guitar playing.
‘We Move’ — James Vincent McMorrow
I wasn’t as into ‘Early in the Morning’ as many people who’ve known of James Vincent McMorrow since day dot. ‘Post Tropical’ is where he triumphed for me, but it’s ‘We Move’ that I’ll focus on in this write-up. It’s as though he found his knack with more experimental sounds on this record, making especially dominant and memorable tunes. ‘Rising Water’ and ‘Get Low’ resonated with most and they were really successful, but I enjoyed the must-dance-to-this persuasion of catchy toe-tapper ‘Seek Another’ even more. In fact, that’s not all — I’d say ‘Evil’ was the most majestic. The quirky instrumentals and electronics draw you in, while the lyrics incite reflection. You can imagine this being played to large stadium crowds, with full orchestras and choirs delivering this ballad with the vigour it deserves…