Belfast Telegraph

Albums of the week: From Fleet Foxes to Beth Ditto

 

Goldie returns to prove he’s the king of drum ‘n’ bass, the Gossip’s Beth Ditto unleashes her debut solo album, and Fleet Foxes are back after a hiatus.

GOLDIE — THE JOURNEY MAN

After 20 years, drum ‘n’ bass pioneer Goldie has returned to the electronic fold with 16-track double album The Journey Man. This is more than just a return, and in no way is it a rehash of anything that came before.

Goldie has taken an artistic route to making this album. It is obvious that there has been a vision from the start. The old-school flavours are there; the industrial beats juxtaposed to the rich, breathy vocals of Mountains, then Castaway drops and there is a more tribal-funk feel to the whole piece, a real foot-stomping track. When the rhythm grows, Goldie transports you to a beach rave all of your very own.

More than anything, The Journey Man is an example of how electronica should be done, forging a soundscape from raw emotion and almost hypnotic slower tracks that pull you in, escalating the animal need to dance and taking a true journey through the genre. Goldie has cemented himself as a genre-breaking artist.

9/10

Rachel Howdle

FLEET FOXES — CRACK-UP

It’s been six long years since acclaimed Seattle-based indie folk-rockers Fleet Foxes released their last album, the complex but excellent Helplessness Blues. In that time, frontman Robin Pecknold took a sabbatical from the music business to study at university, former drummer Josh Tillman became the troubled, witty solo star Father John Misty and of course, the world gave us Brexit and Trump.

Thankfully, the momentum that Fleet Foxes built up soon returned when the band decided to reform (minus Misty), and their third album, Crack-Up, is a delight.

Showing further progression from the last album, the songs are often complex, but nonetheless the familiar soaring harmonies remain, albeit with often mournful lyrics befitting these troubled times. A sometimes challenging and jarring listen, this album feels like a grower, particularly tracks like Third Of May/Odaigahara and On Another Ocean (January/June). It’s great to have the Fleet Foxes back.

8/10

Robert Barker

ROYAL BLOOD — HOW DID WE GET SO DARK?

Did the fuse trip? Maybe someone deployed the blackout blind? How did Royal Blood get so dark? Drummer Ben Thatcher and bass-bludgeoning vocalist Mike Kerr trade in supercharged bombast that brought rich dividends first time around.

With a hit eponymous album here and across the Atlantic, Best British Group acclaim at the 2015 Brits came with a rock royalty backslap from Jimmy Page. The follow-up begins with the booming title track that sets a high bar, echoing the 1997 Supergrass banger Richard III.

Hugging their theme, the fuzz-rock chug of Lights Out follows. But, goodness, it soon tails off. I Only Lie When I Love You is a heavy-riffing road to nowhere, while there is barely sufficient heft to hoist Where Are You Now? above Arctic Monkeys B-side territory. And arguably those are highlights.

They might want to blow the roof off every venue and perhaps they’re ideal festival fare, but there’s a fine line between rock and shlock.

5/10

John Skilbeck

BETH DITTO — FAKE SUGAR

The 80s revival is alive and well, bolstered by the former Gossip frontgal Beth Ditto. Fresh from her time spent in the fashion world, Ditto has returned with her first solo album, Fake Sugar, inspired by the best bits of the late 80s and early 90s music. Overall, Fake Sugar has a very relaxed vibe, Ditto’s raw punchy voice has mellowed and become rounder, which in part will be down to her collaboration with producer Jennifer Decilveo.

Starting with Fire, a blend of rock ‘n’ roll and retro southern charm, moving into the 50s girl group feel of In And Out, there is a build-up to the crescendo that is Iggy Pop-esque Ooh La La, harbouring a definite New York sound, just in case you had forgotten where she came from, straight into her tribute to Suicide’s Alan Vega with the truly glam Go Baby Go.

Overall Ditto’s mellowed, but she is still as cynical as ever with a powerhouse voice that has matured and created a comfortable album which feels like a hug for the soul.

9/10

Rachel Howdle

DENAI MOORE — WE USED TO BLOOM

Although only 23, in music industry terms Denai Moore is a battle-hardened veteran, having been operating at its fringes since her teens. Evidently this has left her with the maturity and confidence to create an album as ambitious as We Used To Bloom.

She has the voice of a classic soul singer and an ear for devastating melodies, but the wit to forgo a self-consciously retro sound.

Instead she opts for crisp, contemporary production that matches old-school brass with synths, electric beats and formally daring background effects (Leave it Up to You, in particular, creates a strikingly unsettling soundscape).

With influences from a wide range of genres running the gamut of old-school R&B (Bring You Shame, Does It Get Easier) to the introverted folk-rock of Elliott Smith (Twilight), We Used To Bloom is a mesmerising listen.

7/10

James Robinson

GOLDIE — THE JOURNEY MAN

After 20 years, drum ‘n’ bass pioneer Goldie has returned to the electronic fold with 16-track double album The Journey Man. This is more than just a return, and in no way is it a rehash of anything that came before.

Goldie has taken an artistic route to making this album. It is obvious that there has been a vision from the start. The old-school flavours are there; the industrial beats juxtaposed to the rich, breathy vocals of Mountains, then Castaway drops and there is a more tribal-funk feel to the whole piece, a real foot-stomping track. When the rhythm grows, Goldie transports you to a beach rave all of your very own.

More than anything, The Journey Man is an example of how electronica should be done, forging a soundscape from raw emotion and almost hypnotic slower tracks that pull you in, escalating the animal need to dance and taking a true journey through the genre. Goldie has cemented himself as a genre-breaking artist.

9/10

Rachel Howdle

Belfast Telegraph

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