Albums of the week: From Brian Eno to The Membranes
Brian Eno is back to his captivating best with Reflection and The Membranes share their new remixed collection, Inner Space/Outer Space. We round up this week’s best releases.
THE MEMBRANES — INNER SPACE/OUTER SPACE
A post-punk concept album? Surely some mistake. And yet The Membranes did just that with 2015’s acclaimed Dark Matter/Dark Energy, and in its wake comes this remix version of the album which features an impressive selection of collaborators, from James Dean Bradfield of Manic Street Preachers, to film composer Clint Mansell. Inspired by conversations with CERN scientists, the songs explore ideas about the origins and mysteries of the universe. Musically, it’s an inventive, restless and ambitious collection that spans rock, reggae, ambient, prog and more.
Highlights include Phillip Boa’s thunderous mix of Do The Supernova, the dubbed up take on Space Junk by Reverend And The Makers, and Mark Lanegan’s brooding version of Dark Energy. If Brian Cox and Douglas Adams had formed a space-rock group, this is what it might have sounded like.
AARON LEE TASJAN — SILVER TEARS
Aaron Lee Tasjan’s second foray into the studio as a solo artist has produced a compelling and disarmingly funny album.
Evoking Tom Petty and the satirical touch of Father John Misty, whose bassist Eli Thompson produced the record, Silver Tears elevates Tasjan above the standard issue singer songwriter. Little Movies, set to a trudging instrumentation, stands out, while 12 Bar Blues shows off Tasjan’s droll sense of humour and includes a tongue-in-cheek appeal for schools to teach poet Philip Levine. Sonically, the album draws on every rock ‘n’ roll standard, but Tasjan’s strange lyrical quality boosts this beyond mere pastiche.
BRIAN ENO — REFLECTION
Brian Eno’s music these days is about as far removed from his Roxy Music heyday as it is possible to get. His has been a fascinating musical odyssey, taking in glam rock and notable production duties, particularly with Talking Heads and that group’s former frontman, David Byrne. Since the late Seventies, however, Eno has shown an increasing interest in ambient music, with Reflection a seamless follow-up to 2016’s The Ship. Reflection consists of just one track, clocking in at just under an hour, and is like much of his recent work, namely understated electronica, occasionally arresting, at times a little self-indulgent, but never less than captivating. So, for those who love his work, Reflection is another excellent foray into ambient music, designed most certainly for discerning ears willing to allow an album to gradually reveal its hidden depths.
SUNDARA KARMA — YOUTH IS ONLY EVER FUN IN RETROSPECT
Oscar Lulu (vocalist), drummer Haydn Evans, guitarist Ally Baty and bassist Dom Cordell make skittering, euphoric, guitar-laced indie pop that slaps you about the face with buckets of hope and giddy energy. There’s a lightness to Sundara Karma, particularly notable on the anthemic, breathless Happy Family; Flame is raucously powerful, while the melodic, romantic Vivienne has Lulu’s vocal soaring over pacey, jangling drum riffs. Sure, it’s not groundbreaking stuff — they seem to borrow something of The Killers, to good effect — but these lads from Reading will lift your spirits and send your feet into a frenzy.
YOU ME AT SIX — NIGHT PEOPLE
Fans of You Me At Six have had to wait three years for this album, since the chart-busting Cavalier Youth back in 2014. Night People, Josh Franceschi and co’s fifth album, doesn’t quite match up to previous offerings though. The Surrey five-piece have ramped up the guitars, giving a heavier feel, and that’s no bad thing. But while this is chock-full of well-delivered pop rock, the songs aren’t quite there this time around. After the single Night People opens proceedings (something with a bit more zip might have been a better start), there are a couple of highlights, with the rockier Plus One and Swear, but it descends into a bland collection of songs.