DAVE — WE’RE ALL ALONE IN THIS TOGETHER
We’re All Alone In This Together proves Dave has an illustrious career ahead of him. After his first album, Psychodrama, charted at number one, the level of quality on his sophomore is equally matched.
This album looks at the Brit Award-winning rapper’s upbringing and environment and is filled with smooth storytelling of substance. Regular listeners will know his work exhibits lyrical excellence. This 12-track album draws on drill, Afrobeats, gospel, electronica and R&B, and features headline names like Stormzy, James Blake and Nigerian superstar Wizkid.
The 23-year-old shares wisdom that makes it hard to believe he is so young. We’re All Alone In This Together positions Dave as a voice of a new generation. As his career continues to develop, expect him to reach new heights as he continues to establish his thought-provoking and unique sound. 9/10 (Review by Andre Johnson)
PRINCE — WELCOME 2 AMERICA
For Prince’s fans, the contents of his legendary Paisley Park vault are the most tantalising prospect in music. Legend has it that the haul features several thousand unreleased songs — including, until now, those on his unreleased 2010 album Welcome 2 America.
The problem is, you can count on one hand the number of truly great albums that were shelved by the artist and then posthumously released — and, friends, we’re sorry to report this isn’t one of them.
As ever, The Purple One has moments that would cause anyone to pay attention — in this case it’s the title track, which serves as a gripping funk state-of-the-nation tirade invoking racial injustice, social media and reality TV culture.
Meanwhile, Born 2 Die — a slinky Curtis Mayfield paean dripped in honey — is far more prosaic Prince, but just as delightful. But before long any promise fades in favour of filler — the painfully vacant 1000 Light Years From Here and Hot Summer are particularly tough listening for those who treasure Purple Rain or Sometimes It Snows In April. All in all, the sad truth for fans is that buried treasures are sometimes just better off buried. 5/10 (Review by Stephen Jones)
ALAN VEGA — MUTATOR
Uncompromising, uneasy listening from Alan Vega, who was in pioneering punk-era synth duo Suicide before a solo career that included a rockabilly phase which was surprisingly popular in France. He died in 2016, and this lost album is the first posthumous release from the vaults, dating from 1995-6, though the eight tracks sound oddly timeless.
Mostly industrial in sound, with spoken word vocals, washes of keyboards and programmed beats, the themes remain elusive, although there are repeated religious references. Trinity, the 77-second opening track, sees Vega repeating “Trinity” while disembodied voices intone “Father” and “Holy Ghost”.
Fist is urgent and ominous, Samurai a delicate, wistful backing track with cryptic spoken words, and final track Breathe fades away into layered synths.
Vega was almost 60 when he recorded Mutator, inspired by the incessant traffic noise and industrial ambience of the New York streets, but was focused on capturing new sounds, rather than playing it safe.
Produced and mixed by longtime collaborator Liz Lamere and close friend Jared Artaud, the result would surely have been appreciated by Vega, despite his dislike of looking back. Those new to Vega might be better off starting with the first two Suicide albums and his eponymously titled solo debut, but completists will want to immerse themselves in the maelstrom. 6/10 (Review by Matthew George)
Anne-Marie said creating her second studio album, a follow-up to 2018’s successful Speak Your Mind, has been therapy during difficult times. Some big names join the Essex-born singer-songwriter on the 12 tracks but it can be hard to stand out when you are sharing the limelight with Little Mix and Niall Horan.
Yet Anne-Marie shows she has enough talent not to need a co-star on tracks like the opener x2 — a standout song which is sweet on the surface but vows revenge via the icy vocals. The emotional Better Not Together describes a toxic relationship, while Little Mix join for the feisty single Kiss My (Uh Oh) which samples Lumidee for a dancefloor track about walking away.
Much of the album couples lively tunes with painful emotions, including hit single Don’t Play (with KSI and Digital Farm Animals) and Unlovable (featuring Rudimental).
Our Song, heavily influenced by collaborator Horan, stirs up emotions of a past relationship and it’s easy to hear Anne-Marie’s friend Ed Sheeran’s writing influence on Beautiful.
With some big songs early on, it is slightly disappointing that the introspective title track Therapy closes the enjoyable album on an unexpectedly subdued note. 7/10 (Review by Beverley Rouse)
LUMP — ANIMAL
Picking up where their eponymous debut left off, Animal sees Mercury Prize nominee Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay of acid-folkies Tunng return to their wonky side project with fresh eyes and ears.
The methodology remains the same: Margate-based Lindsay creates dense electronic soundscapes before Marling arrives to improvise, stream of consciousness-style, over them. The result on their 2018 debut was enjoyable for a number of reasons.
It was a joy to hear Marling working outside of her singer-songwriter persona, able to explore abstract themes and Lennon-esque wacky wordplay, and Lindsay’s experimental compositions kept the listener on their toes, even if they sometimes strayed into the intentionally obtuse.
Animal, however, has greater breadth. The title track bubbles with quiet anger, while Paradise sees Lindsay working with fluctuating time signatures and melodies. We Cannot Resist, meanwhile, feature some fabulous melodies. Animal may be a marginally better record than its predecessor.
Lindsay’s devilish sense of humour shines through, while Marling sounds more relaxed and more willing to indulge than ever. 7/10 (Review by Alex Green).
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