Album reviews - from Maggie Rogers to Fun Lovin' Criminals
It's a strong week for music releases, with new albums from Goldie and Maggie Rogers among the top picks
Goldie and James Davidson (Subjective) - Act One: Music for Inanimate Objects
Act One: Music for Inanimate Objects is a new collaboration for Subjective, comprising Goldie and James Davidson.
If you were one of the few people to enjoy Goldie's last (epic in length) release, Journey Man, you will be aware of the step away from jungle and drum and bass that the genre's pioneer favoured. The record was also a definite change in direction from Davidson's Ulterior Motive days.
This is a more mellow outing. While the bassline beats and breaks are still there, this is essentially a more grown-up affair - the party as the light is breaking after the hard dancing of the night before.
Stunning in its stripped-back nature, with a feeling similar to French electronica (French 79 sticks out here), there are also echoes of Goldie's past as Natalie Duncan (Inner City Life) - whose voice is as crisp and pure as it was in 1995 - and Tyler Lee Daly, who worked on Journey Man, make appearances. What this project has inspired is an everyday soundscape. It's inspirational in its euphoric tone and is both energising and relaxing. An electronic masterpiece.
Maggie Rogers - Heard It in a Past Life
Two years after becoming a viral sensation, 24-year-old singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Maggie Rogers is dropping her first major label record.
Rogers, known for her folk-tinged, electro-esque pop, famously left Pharrell Williams speechless when he heard her song Alaska during a music masterclass at New York University in 2016, where she was a music student. The moment went viral and the song - and Rogers - became a sensation.
In Heard It in a Past Life, Rogers deftly tickles the boundaries between folk, pop and electronic music, tied together with her powerful yet falsetto-friendly vocal, kind of similar to the likes of Florence Welch and Lorde, but also incomparable to anybody else.
Alaska is experimental and beautifully powerful, Rogers' voice in the chorus otherworldly. Past Life has a distant whiff of Fleetwood Mac's Dreams about it, and The Knife has a dirty 1990s groove, with a beat that gets into your bones. Say It is another track with a 1990s homage to it, feeling old-school R&B in parts. The folk theme runs throughout in a truly innovative way, and Rogers' voice miraculously suits everything.
Thunder - Please Remnain Seated
Some bands, when they have been going as long as Thunder, can sit back and put out a greatest hits package or a live album from a recent tour. In contrast, Thunder have gone away and looked at their back catalogue with something else in mind.
By deconstructing a bunch of songs and then re-assembling them in a different way, they have made an album that gives them a whole new dimension.
The band have always had a strong flavour of blues about their material, and even a bit of funk now and again. In this collection, the blues element is considerably stronger, especially on tracks like Empty City and Loser. Then again, opening track Bigger Than Both Of Us wouldn't have sounded out of place in an episode of Nashville.
This is a brave move for a well-established band who are known for a particular style of music. This collection shows that not only are they good musicians, but they are also not afraid to try something new.
When such an experiment works as well as this, they have good reason to be proud of the outcome.
Fun Lovin' Criminals - Another Mimosa
How on earth have Fun Lovin' Criminals survived this long? Since 1996 the rockers-cum-rappers have released six albums of increasingly dreary lounge-rock. And now Another Mimosa - 12 covers recorded to ease the band into the studio before work starts on their seventh album.
Come hoping for the secret to FLC's astonishing longevity, and you will leave disappointed. This a depressing cavalcade of neutered rap-rock - more Limp Bizkit than Beastie Boys.
Their take on Freddie King's Going Down has a faint funk to it, but an exhausting guitar solo bludgeons any kind of groove into the dirt.
Likewise, a misjudged reimagining of Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade Of Pale sees frontman Huey Morgan ramble disjointedly over a soft-rock groove that robs the song of its psychedelic swing. Sunset - their only original material on the album - sounds like second-rate Madness plonked poolside with a Campari and soda.
Yes, this is only an album of covers and not the final document on their talent as a band, but if their next album of original material sounds anything like this, FLC will struggle to recapture the audience they once commanded.