Albums of the week: LeAnn Rimes to duo Honeyblood
LeAnn Rimes presents Remnants, Scottish duo Honeyblood share Babes Never Die and electro-poppers Bayonne release Primitives. We round up all the best of this week’s releases.
LEANN RIMES — REMNANTS
It’s difficult to separate LeAnn Rimes from the LeAnn Rimes that sang Can’t Fight The Moonlight in the brilliantly trashy 2002 film Coyote Ugly. But then, it hasn’t hurt her, the American songstress has sold more than 37 million records, and now writes books too... the thing is, nothing on Remnants has the Hollywood wow factor like the juggernaut Can’t Fight The Moonlight. Heavy on the strings and Rimes’ strong vocal wailing, it’s romantic and heartfelt, but there’s an overriding paint by numbers ‘generic Americana ballad’ quality to it. Mother is a saccharine lullaby, opener The Story does have some bite with Rimes getting to show off her range, while I Couldn’t Do That To Me builds and builds into a chorus worthy of a Disney film. Solid and reliable as a whole, but there’s nothing here that will surprise or charm new listeners, whether they’re Coyote Ugly fans or not.
HONEYBLOOD — BABES NEVER DIE
Scottish duo Honeyblood drew the attention of Fat Cat records at just their second gig and now, four years on, release their second album Babes Never Die on that same label. The title track has a nice retro indie feel about it, somewhere between Garbage and The Primitives, while things get heavier on Ready For The Magic which is propelled by a big, grungy riff and a chorus that lodges in your head within seconds. Love Is A Disease lifts off from a lilting verse into a furious chorus and an interlude of shimmering, psyche guitar, showing the band’s range in just a few minutes. Honeyblood draw on all the right influences, from post-punk through to Riot Grrrl, but still sound fresh thanks to their firm grasp of what makes a good tune.
JAWS — SIMPLICITY
This sophomore album from Birmingham group Jaws is more subtle than the title would have you believe. It is lushly produced, replete with jangling guitars, and owes a debt to its indie forebears. Opening track Just A Boy sounds like The Cure until a big beefy note cuts through and the drumbeat kicks in. Cast is a pastiche of Ian Brown, a la She Bangs The Drums. While the sound is similar, the lyrics are more humble when compared to bluster of the Madchester scene — maybe it’s a geographical thing. The stand-out track is final song, The Invisible Sleep. Tellingly, it’s the only song where the lyrics are sung in a proper Brummie accent. It starts off softly, throwing in a nice image of “a dog chasing bees on a local park”, then gets loud. All in all, Simplicity is an accomplished record, but shines best when it speaks in its own regional voice.
PRETENDERS — ALONE
The Pretenders is basically just the magnificent Chrissie Hynde being produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach now. She might be practically ‘alone’ up there, but her voice fills right to the edges of this record, whole and grainy and reverberating with an easy rightness. Let’s Get Lost hums with lightly plucked guitar and longing, Holy Commotion satisfyingly plinks and plonks with all the hallmarks of a song that would get both sides of a school disco on the dance floor, while Never Be Together is addictively slouchy and grungy. Hynde certainly chats through Alone more than she sings, but be it talking, singing, shouting, Hynde’s still got it all going on.
BAYONNE — PRIMITIVES
Electronic pop music is a broad church and Texan Roger Sellers has established his fanbase’s pew over the past few years, ahead of releasing his debut album under his stage name, Bayonne. The Austin native has constructed a glorious run of tracks that flow beautifully, though the bright piano riff on Waves is radio-friendly enough to stand alone. Lyrics take second place, almost overlooked in favour of organic instrumentation. Looped guitars and drums give hypnotic warmth to the tribal-inspired Marim, rather than a collection of bleeps and whistles, although there are plenty of those on slow-builder Steps, and clips of conversations that lurk on the edge of hearing in Appeals. There’s even a Bon Iver-tinge to the soft vocals of Lates and Omar, the final two songs of the album proper (there are three bonus tracks), and while Primitives is unlikely to lead the genre into brand new territory, it’s a welcome addition to the congregation.