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P
Pa
May 8, 2021

Rag’n’Bone Man, Weezer and Squid deliver the musical goods this week

P
Pa
May 8, 2021

SQUID — BRIGHT GREEN FIELD

Squid have embarked on a mission to bring ambition back to music, and their debut album is discordant and exciting.

Like Black Midi and Black Country, New Road (two members of the latter feature in a horn and string ensemble) they disdain simple song structures, and need repeated listening to uncover their depths. Squid take inspiration from the post-punk era, when anything and everything was allowed, as well as free jazz, funk, post rock, dub and other genres that encourage experimentation.

They are all scratchy guitars, dub bass, wonky time signatures, vocals that range from a whisper to a scream, as well as field recordings of ringing church bells, microphones swinging from the ceiling and a distorted choir of 30 voices.

Omitting the singles that made their name, Bright Green Field is 11 all-new tracks, and while the title and cover photo may suggest the pastoral, the music is entirely urban. Narrator, an unlikely single, sprawls over eight-and-a-half minutes, while Boy Racers is almost as long, starting with the closest they come to a catchy tune, before slowing right down into a cacophony of brutalised synths.

Squid are far from easy listening. The sometimes screeching vocals won’t appeal to all and some will dismiss it as pretentious, but if you are looking for something visceral and uncompromising, strap in and enjoy the ride. 8/10 (Review by Matthew George)

RAG’N’BONE MAN — LIFE BY MISADVENTURE

Rag’n’Bone Man’s new album sees the musician showcase his baritone voice in a collection of reflective songs. The album was written and recorded in Nashville, and the city’s influences can be heard in the Brit Award-winner’s latest release.

Life By Misadventure, however, lacks some of the punch of his more upbeat 2017 debut Human. All You Ever Wanted, one of the standout tracks on the album, is a bright spot and sees him combine his signature powerful vocals with catchy instrumentals.

But other tracks feel slightly unimaginative compared to the singer’s previous work. Anyway Away From Here, a collaboration with US singer P!nk, feels slightly pedestrian, while other tracks on the album lack some of the flare of Human.

Nevertheless, Rag’n’Bone Man, real name Rory Graham, is sure to delight his fans later in the year when he heads out on tour, thanks to his phenomenal voice and larger than life stage presence. 6/10 (Review by Tom Horton)

WEEZER — VAN WEEZER

Another curious experiment in a career increasingly filling up with them, Weezer’s 80s metal album (its title a nod to Van Halen) at least falls closer on the fun scale to their fan-service cover of Toto’s Africa than Rivers Cuomo’s move to writing songs by rhyming spreadsheet.

The riffs certainly deliver, scaling Iron Maiden-esque heights in places and providing a satisfying crunch. The lead singer is still Cuomo, though, and his reedy emo delivery is far from a natural fit with this material (to say nothing of his dreadful quasi-rapping on All The Good Ones).

Blue Dream showcases the best of what the album does well but is equally indicative of its weaknesses, while She Needs Me is the purest “classic Weezer, but metal” cut and the closing ballad Precious Metal Girl emerges as the standout track.

The overall landing spot is somewhere around Billy Talent — no bad thing, however inadvertent — and 1 More Hit is eerily reminiscent of the Canadian quartet’s 2003 stormer Standing In The Rain. 6/10 (Review by Tom White)

PINK FLOYD — LIVE AT KNEBWORTH 1990

In the summer of 1990, a who’s who of rock legends assembled at Knebworth for a concert organised by the Silver Clef Awards. Sir Paul McCartney, Dire Straits, Genesis and Sir Cliff Richard were among those in attendance, but Pink Floyd topped the bill, playing a truncated set to some 120,000 fans.

Avid fans of the band will likely have already heard this album. It features on the mammoth The Later Years boxset released in 2019. Now it arrives on CD, double vinyl and digital platforms, remixed by David Gilmour for better public consumption.

The band deliver polished versions of evergreen hits — The Great Gig In The Sky and Comfortably Numb among them, and still have time for a 10-minute plus version of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5.

This being 1990, Roger Waters has already left the group amid growing tensions that bubbled over into a legal dispute. On stage Gilmour, Nick Mason and Richard Wright are joined by a dozen or so touring band members, including the superb Candy Dulfer, whose saxophone elevates Money considerably.

This is the Floyd at their glossiest and best-rehearsed, a snapshot of a band leaning into their later years with gusto. 7/10 (Review by Alex Green)

ICEAGE — SEEK SHELTER

Iceage have come a long way from the unbridled anger of their 2011 debut New Brigade. The Danish punks, from Copenhagen, have refined their fury into something classier, more intelligent but still raw.

Musically, Seek Shelter is their most complete album yet, synthesising frontman Elias Bender Ronnenfelt’s haughty, cracked vocals with a surprising range of sounds. Opener Shelter Song fits the Madchester swagger of the Happy Mondays, the repurposed soul of Primal Scream and the gospel of Spiritualized into its six minutes.

Drink Rain is a jaunty love song that channels Romani jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt by way of The Libertines. Seek Shelter was recorded with Peter Kember, aka Sonic Boom of cult alternative rockers Spacemen 3, marking the first time Iceage have ever worked with an outside producer on an album.

This, plus addition of guitarist Casper Morilla Fernandez, gives the band an extra depth of sound missing on previous records. What Seek Shelter lacks in songwriting, it makes up in ambition. Another strong effort from the ever-evolving Iceage. 7/10 (Review by Alex).