Albums of the week: a look at all the latest releases
American singer Alison Mosshart and British guitarist Jamie Hince — aka The Kills — are back with their fifth record, Ash & Ice; The Monkees celebrate their 50th anniversary with Good Times, and indie rock kids Catfish and the Bottlemen present The Ride. We round up the best of this week’s CD releases.
Fatherson: Open Book
Three-piece Glaswegian band, Fatherson set out their stall early on their second album.
Opening track Just Past The Point Of Breaking is a soaring anthem that sets the tone for the rest of Open Book: Emotional alt-rock that sits somewhere between Biffy Clyro and Snow Patrol.
Over swirling guitars, driving bass and pounding drums, frontman Ross Leighton relates tales of childhood, love and friendship.
Lost Little Boys points to the band’s close bond, with a euphoric chorus you can imagine going down a treat live.
Joanna slows the pace, a delicately constructed tale of a break up, while Younger Days, a piano-driven ballad, strips away the guitars and drums, leaving Leighton sounding plaintive. The title track is emblematic of the album as a whole; lush, catchy and heartfelt.
Open Book could launch Fatherson into the big league.
Darryl Webber: 8/10
The Kills: Ash & Ice
Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart return with their fifth album in a career many would not have thought could get this far.
The raw, ferocious early blues seemed likely to burn bright and fade away.
Over 13 years it has evolved into something more slick and vital — but still instantly recognisable, mainly thanks to Hince’s buzzsaw, detuned, angular riffs.
Ash & Ice finds the duo in more restrained form, with synths and bassy grooves playing more of a role than in previous efforts.
The pair has never been the most lyrically compelling and given more space with the more subdued sound, some songs fall flat.
There’s still plenty to keep fans happy — lead single Doing It To Death is classic Kills with added bleeps, and Bitter Fruit’s Cramps-esque boogie is more than satisfying.
Piano-led effort That Love, which appears to address Hince’s break-up with Kate Moss, unfortunately doesn’t impress and the record fails to hit the peaks of their previous two efforts.
Arj Singh: 7/10
The Monkees: Goof Times!
Reuniting for their 50th anniversary, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith (plus Davy Jones from beyond the grave) have collaborated with some of modern music’s best songwriters for what will more than likely be their last album.
Not that Good Times! is a sad affair. As the title suggests, this collection is largely an affectionate look back at the career of a band that was once ridiculed by critics, but who are now rightly remembered as a music phenomenon.
Highlights include Death Cab For Cutie, frontman Ben Gibbard’s gentle Me & Magdalena and Nesmith’s melancholic I Know What I Know, but the pick of the bunch is Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller’s psychedelic Birth Of An Accidental Hipster, a swirling hazy rock number reminiscent of The Monkees’ classic album Head.
Sure, it may be cheesy in places, but hey, it’s The Monkees.
Rob Barker: 7/10
Samaris: Black Lights
Wanted 2 Say, the opening track and lead single on this spirited release, ushers in an exciting new era for Icelandic electro trio Samaris, with a kicking, higher tempo rhythm and, unexpectedly, English singing.
Personally, not understanding the lyrics was never a problem, but maybe it’s a sign they’re ready to take on the world and bring in a wider audience. And a fresh outlook is always a plus.
In all honestly, they deserve the brightest lights possible shining in their direction as there’s so much talent on display here.
This is a notch down in quality from their previous work, as the down tempo, chillwave-style certainly fits this group more than the faster, beat-heavy, and arguably more accessible, style dominating most of Black Lights.
But fear not, the minimal, haunting Gradient Sky sees Samaris back to their best and the gloomy dub of I Will and album closer In Deep adds another string to this group’s already impressive bow. More of this next time and the trio will be stepping out of the darkness.
Steven Cookson: 7/10
Catfish and the Bottlemen: The Ride
These North Wales boys are a hirsute bunch, with the indie credentials to warrant the long tresses and matching moody expressions.
“I don’t think things through, I never get time,” drawls singer Van McCann on 7, the opener to their second record, The Ride, but to be fair, they've had two years to come up with this litter of tracks.
Postpone has bite, plastered with the swish of snare drums, Emily has yearning and regret burned into it, but it’s tame rock that pretends to loucheness and tells small town stories of boredom through straightforward — arguably simplistic — lyrics.
Soundcheck’s patter includes: “I raced through soundtrack/Just to meet you/On your fag break” — but it’s got pace and guitar chords that’ll skip through your brain pleasantly enough.
Ella Walker: 6/10
Belfast Telegraph Digital