Albums of the week: Craig David to Dream Wife
Craig David is back with new album The Time Is Now while British rockers Django Django drop their third record, Marble Skies; however, it is the brand new act Dream Wife which look set to impress us the most.
DREAM WIFE — DREAM WIFE
Just when it seems Punk really is dead, along come all-female trio, Dream Wife, with this intense and idiosyncratic debut which, if it doesn’t quite reinvent New Wave, certainly re-infuses it with youthful charisma.
Having formed initially as part of a performance art project, the band have developed a formidable reputation as a live act, but their anarchic image is backed up by tracks as infectious as Fire, Somebody and Love Without Reason — all defined by angular guitar, pulsating bass and Icelandic-born Rakel Mjoll’s spiky, sloganeering vocals.
CRAIG DAVID — THE TIME IS NOW
If Craig David is hoping to appeal to an audience hankering for a dose of nostalgia, he’s hit the nail on the head and then some. The Time Is Now, his seventh album, is a collection that strongly echoes the dance, R&B and garage classics of the early Noughties, but with a modern edge.
From album opener Magic — which sounds both appropriate for 2002 and 2018 and almost acts as a sequel to his mega-hit 7 Days with its list-style lyrics — through party bangers Heartline, Brand New, I Know You (featuring Bastille) and Focus, David delivers through and through. Sure, there are some filler tracks, but the majority of the LP is strong, each track with the potential for top 40 success. Bonus track Reload is the true standout, especially for those who cut their musical teeth in the golden era of garage. The Chase & Status-produced track, on the album’s deluxe edition, has a real Artful Dodger vibe and seems like a real gift to those who have been a fan of David since way back when.
THE SPOOK SCHOOL — COULD IT BE DIFFERENT?
How we listen may change, but what remains immutable is music’s capacity to bequeath radical power to the listener. On their formidable third album, Edinburgh quartet The Spook School lend an affirming, empathetic voice to communities with which they associate closely, notably non-binary, trans and queer allies.
It begins with a monologue from comedian Josie Long, riffing on self-identity and raging against the Government, before Still Alive targets an abusive ex, castigating the culprit and building to a chant of “F*** you, I’m still alive”. Euphoric rather than gratuitous, the cry comes atop a rollicking punk-pop clatter comparable to prime Buzzcocks.
Singer Nye Todd came out as transgender early in the band’s life and his experiences flavour the record, although Brexit is the anxiety trigger on Bad Year. Keep In Touch examines why even deeply intense relationships can be transient, and insecurities of self are deftly deconstructed elsewhere. Produced by Hookworms’ MJ, this record brims with pop riches, a dossier of personal discovery destined to resonate widely.
DJANGO DJANGO — MARBLE SKIES
Big things were predicted for Scottish psychedelic indie four-piece Django Django on the release of their eponymous debut in 2012. Those early gigs had an air of excitement and great things to come. So it was a shame that second release, Born Under Saturn, seemed to come and quickly go in 2015. It was a good album, but perhaps too similar to the first to make the desired impact.
However, David Maclean, Vincent Neff, Jimmy Dixon and Tommy Grace show artistic progression on Marble Skies. By and large ditching the guitars (or at least, turning them down), the band have come up with a summery, dance-driven sound that has always been hinted at. Featuring Metronomy’s Anna Prior, Slow Club’s Rebecca Taylor and Eighties keyboard maestro Jan Hammer, Marble Skies is a welcome blast of colour for these grey winter days.
GET CAPE. WEAR CAPE. FLY — YOUNG ADULT
Sam Duckworth is ready to don his cape and fly once again with this sixth studio album under his largely successful moniker.
Young Adult is the Southend troubadour’s first release in four years as Get Cape and he has as much to say now as on his 2006 debut. Duckworth, soon to be 32, says he is now more “direct and confident” in his songwriting, and it is hard to disagree. The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager, which launched his career, was more electro-folk than the reflective, acoustic sound on Young Adult, but the brass section can still be heard on stand-out tracks Invisible and previous single Just A Phase.