Albums of the week: Bear's Den, Absolutely Fabulous, Jeff Beck, Steven Tyler and Good Charlotte
Indie duo Bear’s Den present Red Earth & Pouring Rain, Steven Tyler returns with We’re All Somebody From Somewhere and Good Charlotte share Youth Authority. We round up the best of this week’s brand new releases.
BEAR’S DEN — RED EARTH & POURING RAIN
Ivor Novello nominated indie-folk duo Bear’s Den are sultry-voiced Londoners Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones. Thoughtful, rippling with emotion and yearning, Red Earth & Pouring Rain is the follow-up to their 2014 debut, Islands. They’ve previously supported Daughter and Mumford & Sons, and you can absolutely hear the link: romantic lyrics bound up in gentle tones, the thwacking of strings, and a plucked baseline that bubbles throughout (most grippingly on New Jerusalem). Yet at times they’re reminiscent of synthpoppers Hurts — if Hurts had a country twang to them. Dew On The Vine particularly rumbles with a borrowed Southern American flavour while the title track is epic and sweeping, snippets of Americana catching at the edges. Play it loud with the windows down on a country road.
Ella Walker: 8/10
ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS (THE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK) — VARIOUS ARTISTS
Patsy and Edina are back, just this time on the big screen in Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie. And the soundtrack is suitably glitzy, featuring the likes of Jason Derulo, Paloma Faith, Santigold, Formation and La Roux, all the songs being catchy, high tempo and, of course, chart friendly. The upbeat brashness of it is counteracted by classic ballads, including Leonard Cohen’s Bird On The Wire. While poignant, the ballads upset the flow of pop and dance, and not in a good way. Cast members Julia Sawalha and Jane Horrocks also lend their voices, singing covers of At Seventeen and Big Spender respectively, in a fair, if not memorable, effort. But the stand-out song is the movie’s official theme: Kylie Minogue’s This Wheel’s On Fire. Originally written by Bob Dylan, Kylie’s voice wows — as you’d expect. Despite a few out-of-place tracks, Ab Fab’s soundtrack is sure to be a summer hit.
Gemma Horton: 7/10
JEFF BECK — LOUD HAILER
If you like your music throbbing with guitar, and pockmarked with political and topical statements, Jeff Beck’s Loud Hailer ticks the right boxes. Formerly a guitarist with The Yardbirds, it’s the rocker’s first solo effort in six years and sees him shore up intricate guitar riffs against vocals from Rosie Bones. She switches melodically between raspy sing-song and delivering lines like, ‘The graphics won’t be as realistic/ As Grand Theft Auto Three,’ prosaically on opener The Revolution Will Be Televised. On Thugs Club anger at the ‘rich man’ gets mixed up with jazzy snarls of guitar, while Edna haunts, strings scraping over lyrics that search for truth. Too worthy and preachy at times in its message, Beck pulls it back just enough for you to appreciate the guitar.
Ella Walker: 5/10
STEVEN TYLER — WE’RE ALL SOMEBODY FROM SOMEWHERE
Rock ‘n’ Roll hall of famer Steven Tyler has swapped silk scarves and tight white jeans for checked shirts for his debut solo album, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere. The Aerosmith icon actually spent a year in Nashville soaking up inspiration for this collection of country chart-busters. He will have his doubters. Some will see it as another washed-up rock star cashing in on the newest trend, and Red, White & You won’t help that. The generic country pop track is riddled with cliches and tired cultural references. Similarly, Love Is Your Name starts with a fiddly guitar riff but quickly develops into a fully-blown power anthem. The rest is a slickly produced compilation of unapologetic commercial tunes — the acoustic version of Janie’s Got A Gun aside. It’s country music with a Steven Tyler twist, but it’s still hard to love.
Jared Tinslay: 7/10
GOOD CHARLOTTE — YOUTH AUTHORITY
The first album after a hiatus will always be highly anticipated, and Good Charlotte’s Youth Authority hasn’t quite matched expectations. The confusing mash of punk rock preaching sung in catchy Cali pop melodies is all a bit sickly sweet, as if the band spent their time away catching up on Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez records. Unfortunately, it sounds like less a development of their own sound and more of a dilution of the raw energy Good Charlotte once so ruthlessly threw onto the scene. Ultimately the album isn’t horrific and songs like The Outfield, Life Changes and the unforgettable track War beg you to listen again, yet the likes of 40 oz. Dream, Moving On and Makeshift Love sound far too over-produced and leave a bitter taste, which makes the album rather difficult to swallow.
Lewis Matthews: 5/10