Albums of the week: The Menzingers to The Naked And Famous
Lower Than Atlantis share Safe In Sound, The Naked And Famous present Simple Forms and Fenech-Soler return with Zilla. We round up the best of this week’s releases.
THE MENZINGERS — AFTER THE PARTY
Philadelphia-based punk rockers The Menzingers return with their fifth studio album, After The Party. This is a record filled with songs that will make you reminiscence on past adventures, whilst singing and dancing along. On Lookers the band recalls smoky diners and heartbreaking girls in New Jersey; whilst Bad Catholics turns a church picnic and a lost-love into one hell of a catchy track. Album opener, Tellin’ Lies will resonate with those of a certain generation, asking: “Where are we gonna go, now that our twenties are over?” Fans of The Gaslight Anthem may be interested in checking these guys out. This is a return to the form of their third LP, On The Impossible Past, and they deserve to pick up plenty of new listeners.
THE NAKED AND FAMOUS — SIMPLE FORMS
So, 2010 was spent dancing frantically to The Naked And Famous’ breakout hits Young Blood and Punching In A Dream — thumping, emotional electronica that screamed about summer and youth. They have never quite managed to replicate that zeitgeisty feel, however, the New Zealand five-piece certainly haven’t lost any of their electric magnetism. Their third record, Simple Forms, makes the most of mega vocals from Alisa Xayalith whose reedy, ethereal voice flies on the anthemic Higher and the wistful melancholic Laid Low. Things get a bit punk-boyband on My Energy, thanks to guitarist Thom Powers stepping up to the mic, while the minimalist start to Falling fails to grab ears. A solid effort that doesn’t quite reach dizzying heights.
MOON DUO — OCCULT ARCHITECTURE VOL. 1
The married team of guitarist Ripley Johnson and keyboardist Sanae Yamada have chosen to release their fourth album as a two volume ‘psychedelic opus’ inspired by the Chinese theory of yin and yang. The first instalment represents the yin, or dark, side of the effort, with the band’s trademark thick noisy haze of drones, fuzzed guitar freak-outs and hushed vocals, all intact. The pounding footprints of their breakthrough krautrock track Sleepwalker can be found all over the record, which is a superior slice of psych noise. But the occasional lighter touch and starburst embellishments that marked that hit’s parent record, Circles, are absent as the duo strive to stick rigidly to the album’s dark concept. It certainly whets the appetite for Vol 2., the yang, or light side, but it may be that, as is the case with so many double albums, the band would have been better distilling everything down to one all-killer, no-filler record.
FENECH-SOLER — ZILLA
After a four-year gap, English band Fenech-Soler return with a third album, developing the electro-pop sound found on 2013’s Rituals. Only brothers Ben and Ross Duffy remain of the original line-up, but they aren’t despondent: head-bobbing opener Kaleidoscope sets the overall tone for a summery, enjoyable record, followed by the upbeat, synth-laden On Top. Night Time TV’s heavy, echoey bassline blends effortlessly into low-key vocals, while Cold Light maximises an underlying dispassion. Predominantly instrumental interludes Zilla I and Zilla II break things up and the only departure from the positivity is Be Someone. Here, Ben’s breathy vocals are finally allowed to soar, while plaintive line: “I guess I’m running out of time to be someone”, is truly poignant.
LOWER THAN ATLANTIS — SAFE IN SOUND
Watford rockers Lower Than Atlantis return with their fifth studio album, Safe In Sound. The opening track from the Hertfordshire four-piece, Had Enough, is a rip-roaring ride as vocalist and rhythm guitarist Mike Duce takes us through one of ‘those’ days. Could Be Worse begins with a fun, jumpy riff and describes a morning where things just keep going wrong (“Alarm didn’t go off/and the water ain’t hot/got a tea stain on your shirt...”). On the whole this record is a decent attempt at hitting the mark in the arena of radio friendly heavy(ish) rock. It contains solid musical craftsmanship and there are some very listenable tracks throughout.