From the harrowing cover image of a Yemeni woman cradling her
pepper-sprayed son at a protest through to titles such as
Plague, Wrath of God and Pale Flesh, it is clear that
Canadian electronica duo Crystal Castles are not eyeing the
Their third album enhances the chilly lo-fi aesthetic
established on their 2008 debut, with Ethan Kath's sepulchral
soundscapes buttressed by Alice Glass's keening vocals.
At times, the atonal itchiness grates; yet the malfunctioning
arcade-game blips and sinister trance stabs of Violent Youth,
Sad Eyes and early Cure-evoking Transgender are streamlined
enough to exude a thrilling dynamism.
Single download: Violent Youth
For those who like: The Cure, Telepathe,
3 stars (out of 5)
- John Hayden
Shut Down The Streets.
Birth, death and the great questions of life, the universe
and everything were occupying the mind of New Pornographers
frontman AC Newman when he penned his third solo album, not
that it's always apparent from his lyrics.
Certainly, the trio of songs that occupy the heart of the
album are letters to his newborn son, and the closing title
track pays homage to his recently deceased mother, but
elsewhere the window to Newman's world is misted. In his
particular, sometimes overly meticulous way, he merges pop,
folk and '70s AOR into an album that rewards the patient
Single download: I'm Not Talking
For those who like: The New Pornographers, Andrew
3 stars (out of 5)
- Jeff Harford
Julian Temple Band.
Not as instantly accessible as their last couple of albums,
Upsidedownbackwards captures a road-honed Julian Temple
waxing lyrical on his trusty acoustic once again. Working
from a shadowy palatte that is often at odds with the breezy
melodies that Temple conjures at ease, it's the addition of
Alex Vaatstra on violin that has the most profound effect.
Upsidedownbackwards is a slow burner, a little loose around
the edges, but still containing some captivating experimental
flourishes that hint of something great waiting in the wings.
Single download: My Heart
For those who like: Grant Lee Buffalo, Tom Waits,
4 stars (out of 5)
- Mark Orton