Ten albums you cannot miss this month – April 2013
Paramore – Paramore
Paramore’s self-titled fourth studio album sees the American pop-rockers making giant steps forward. With industry veteran Justin Meldal-Johnsen behind the desk and a four year stretch since their last LP, Paramore sees the band truly come into their own with more than enough hooks and hits in the bag to make up for the wait. This one will please both old and new fans alike with instant classics like Ain’t It Fun and Now set to light up the radio waves this summer.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito
Karen O and the guys are back following up the matured synth pop of It’s Blitz with Mosquito. With each passing album, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have broadened their palette and Mosquito sees their greatest range yet. Soaring power ballads, pounding indie epics and rollicking alt-punk anthems populate this disc, all expertly crafted by the 20th century’s original indie punk heroes. While in many ways a hodge-podge album, Mosquito’s best tracks see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the top of their game.
The Knife – Shaking the Habitual
Swedish duo, The Knife are quite literally Shaking the Habitual on their boldest, rawest, strangest and longest release to date. If you fell in love with the band for their experimental pop music, you can now remove the “pop” from that description. However, this in no way makes the group less compelling – this release is a more worthwhile listen for it. With hooks and dance-ability in short supply, Shaking the Habitual is nonetheless one of this year’s most rewarding releases (if you can make it through the album’s monolithic 96 minutes). The Knife remain brilliantly unlike anybody else.
James Blake – Overgrown
For a musician as unusual as South East London’s James Blake, the heat since his self-titled debut has been almost unbelievable. Overgrown sees the singer moving further away from the disorienting and fractured take on dubstep that permeated his earlier releases, with more focus on beats and melodies. Even so, these songs still inhabit the intoxicating and splintered world that Blake built in his debut. The composition is getting stronger with highlights including collaborations with Brian Eno and RZA on two of the album’s stronger tracks.
Fall Out Boy – Save Rock and Roll
“We won’t go! We don’t know when to quit!” cry Fall Out Boy on the anthemic collaboration with Elton John that closes Save Rock and Roll. So overblown and rife for criticism, the return of the band nobody was sorry to see go is bizarrely tough to make out. It seems that Patrick Stump and co went all out on this one. Collaborations, budding emo pop and thinly veiled lyrics lash out from Save Rock and Roll. Fall Out Boy know what they’re doing and they don’t mind in the slightest.
Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze
Now on his fifth album, the American underground’s most critically acclaimed rock troubadour is back with another album of brilliant songwriting. Far more electrified than its predecessor, Waking on a Pretty Daze sees Vile’s songs drawn out in length, the singer happy with the majesty of his shimmering folk-rock. Full of depth and a moving statement on modern life, say hello to this generation’s Everybody Knows This is Nowhere.
Fossil Collective – Tell Where I Lie
Although the world is by no means running low on its stock of radio-friendly indie folk, we still search for those magic artists and moments that still make the oldest school of pop music the best. Leeds’ Fossil Collective recently evolved out of arena pop outfit Vib Gyor, and while they’re not quite there yet, Tell Where I Lie contains more than a few moments of folky brilliance. The epic The Magpie and the gentle How Was I to Know in particular ooze with harrowing drama and beauty. Keep an eye on this talented duo.
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – The Messenger
Getting back in touch with one’s roots is something that almost inevitably happens when a career spans more than 20 years (Clapton made an album of Robert Johnson covers, while Snoop Lion took a trip to reggae’s motherland) but no synth pop band has quite survived long enough to do so. On their twelfth album, OMD do exactly that, never having sounded so in touch with Kraftwerk’s mid-70s output (in particular, Trans-Europe Express). Driven by their unrelenting love for the sound of a bygone era and Andy McCluskey’s well-preserved vocal chops, OMD prove they’ve still got it.
Wiley – The Ascent
Featuring his almost offensively repetitive number one Heatwave, The Ascent sees Wiley’s transformation from UK grime pioneer to major label “urban expert” reach its inevitable climax. Released by Warner Bros, The Ascent features major peaks and even more major troughs. The countless collaborations and occasionally overly moronic content make this album a musical low point for the artist. Either way, the high quality hooks say you’ll be hearing this album a lot if you’re out and about this summer, particularly the grooviest offering My Heart featuring Emeli Sande.
The Flaming Lips – The Terror
Never sparing when it comes to ideology, The Flaming Lips’ The Terror sees the 21st century’s greatest psychedelic rock band (still in Pink Floyd’s shadow nonetheless) at their very darkest. Contrasting colourful artwork with fuzzy, bleak music and Coyne’s even bleaker lyrics, The Terror is themed around a worldview devoid of light and love. Marking a departure for a band known for their colourful and celebratory back catalogue, The Lips are at the peak of their powers a quarter of a century in, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.