Album reviews: Soundgarden, Kaiser Chiefs, Iggy Azalea and more...
This week we cast our ears over new releases from established acts including Soundgarden and Kaiser Chiefs, as well as newcomer Cuco
Soundgarden: Live From The Artists Den
Posthumous releases are the most difficult to get right. Soundgarden must have known this following the death of frontman Chris Cornell, who took his own life in Detroit in 2017 aged only 52.
One solution would be to enlist an anthology series comfortable with documenting extraordinary artists with towering legacies. Enter Live From The Artists Den, a three-time Emmy-nominated series with a history of chronicling gigs by stars including Mumford & Sons and Ringo Starr.
As an overarching document of the Seattle band's 35-year career, Soundgarden's offering is unparalleled.
Recorded in February 2013 at the Wiltern Theatre in LA, it captures 29 songs across two-and-a-half hours. The music is dark and fast, twisting itself around weird time signatures and driven by the whiplash drums of Matt Cameron. It's a much needed document of Cornell in his late career pomp.
Superfluous to most, but essential to those keen to ensure Cornell is not soon forgotten.
Kaiser Chiefs - Duck
It's hard to believe that it's been around 15 years since indie rockers Kaiser Chiefs, fronted by Ricky Wilson, burst on to the scene. Duck is the Leeds combo's seventh album. But has the itch set in?
From the first strains of People Know How To Love One Another, it's obvious this isn't your usual Kaiser Chiefs record. Lyrically, however, there is still a hint of the early days. The personable lyrical style of Never Miss A Beat and Everyday I Love You Less and Less are evident here, and that is really where they come into their own.
Kaiser Chiefs have put together another grower of an album filled with great indie pop songs.
Iggy Azalea - In My Defense
It has been five years since Iggy Azalea released her debut album, The New Classic, and electro-pop single Fancy. The Australian star has certainly not been shy of controversy - embroiled in claims of cultural appropriation and regular feuds with fellow rappers, including the likes of Azealia Banks and Snoop Dogg.
Azalea hits back at the controversies and more in Clap Back, a track from the long-awaited In My Defense. The bass-heavy battle bars have a promising start but, lyrically, it fails in clapping back and is disappointingly unoriginal.
An ambitious comeback album, In My Defense had all of the hype but fails to defend anything. Azalea's nervousness at releasing an album at the same time as Peppa Pig - a very unlikely rival - might be justified.
Cuco - Para Mi
Cuco, largely hailed by music insiders as one of the most exciting young stars of the moment, has dropped his debut album. Brimming with sun-soaked summer tunes, here's hoping it could help us ease through this startling heatwave.
An indie pop producer, singer-songwriter and musician with a leaning towards Latin-inspired music and R&B, the Los Angeles-based Mexican-American artist has created a record that intrigues and delights, and is somehow both nostalgic and fresh.
Having grown in popularity in recent years and becoming a genuine emerging talent with millions of streams (he already has just shy of three million monthly Spotify listeners), Cuco certainly deserves a chance.
Lykke Li - Still Sad Still Sexy
Despite its name, Lykke Li's fourth full-length record saw her venture away from the "sad pop" sound that earned her a cult following way before the likes of Lorde and Lana Del Rey swept in. In its place was an R&B-inflected dance record, more akin in parts to fellow Swede Robyn, but regarded by some not to have hit the same notes as her prior critical successes.
Yet so follows Still Sad Still Sexy, an EP of reworkings from last year's record which is arguably most notable for featuring the dreaded words 'Skrillex remix'.
There is a moment worth hanging on for right at the end. A pared down rendition of Deep End strips away the original's trap beat to reveal a soulful, powerful indie piano ballad reminiscent of her finest work.
However, in the most part Still Sad is, sadly, a bit of a throwaway best reserved for devotees only.