DIY SOS host Nick Knowles steps away from the toolbox to release his debut album, while alternative rockers Shed Seven drop their fifth studio album. We round up the latest releases.
SHED SEVEN — INSTANT PLEASURES
Well, this is a pleasant surprise. You would have been forgiven for expecting Rick Witter and Co to trade on memories, but this first album in 16 years measures up to much of their Britpop heyday.
The cocksure Nothing To Live Down and the lyrical delivery of Butterfly On A Wheel in particular are classically Shed Seven, while there are storming riffs on It’s Not Easy and Star-Crossed Lovers.
The single Room In My House is an impressive if over-stuffed statement of intent, while People Will Talk finds the York quartet partying like it’s 1999... except I thought they burnt this disco down?
What is perhaps missing is one of the band’s glorious slow numbers — Better Days does not quite hit the mark and the excellent Hold On To Yourself changes tack into a euphoric chorus, though the closing Invincible somewhat recalls a personal favourite in High Hopes.
EVANESCENCE — SYNTHESIS
Evanescence are back with their fourth album, called Synthesis, and one word encapsulates their musical offering: dramatic. The album has a few old favourites on it such as Bring Me To Life and My Immortal that have been revamped.
It is a welcome return to the old, familiar sounds of the band, and fans are going to be transported back to their original work.
Lead singer Amy Lee is back with a vocal performance that’s as powerful as ever. There are some great tracks — notably Imperfection, which Lee said she thinks is the “most important song on the album”.
This album is proof that old can be the, well, new new and still be just as satisfying.
NICK KNOWLES — EVERY KIND OF PEOPLE
“Oh look, it’s another TV presenter doing music!” you cry, rolling your eyes. But wait: Nick Knowles (yes, the DIY SOS guy) is offering something disarmingly different from the usual swing or opera-esque releases from many of his TV star contemporaries.
Having kept his singing and guitar-playing talents under the radar for decades, the 55-year-old is finally taking a step into the music world with his debut album Every Kind Of People, a collection of covers.
Knowles has been bold with his song choices, opting for beloved tracks from the likes of Robert Palmer and Joni Mitchell, and this serves him well. The strikingly deep timbre of his voice works well with so many of them, notably his version of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love (which could not be more different from Adele’s rendition) and a reworking of Barry White’s My First, My Last, My Everything.
Of course, there is nothing ground-breaking here, but Knowles deftly manages to steer clear of a karaoke vibe and offers up an album that will be enjoyed by those wishing to hear familiar songs performed with an as yet unfamiliar voice.
BRADLEY WALSH — WHEN YOU’RE SMILING
Were Bradley Walsh an unknown trying to make it in the music industry, it is perhaps unlikely this record would be made.
But, following the recent death of Sir Bruce Forsyth, a gap has emerged in the all-round entertainer market.
Walsh — footballer turned actor, comedian and presenter — occupies a spot on the shelf alongside DIY SOS lynchpin-cum-musician Nick Knowles: the clamour for his albums will be vast, particularly around Christmas. But is the product good enough for anyone to genuinely pine for the next instalment? Maybe, maybe not.
This latest is a classic of the celebrity crooner genre. Big band? Tick. Largely cruise ship-friendly covers? Tick. Prefacing a musical interlude with “Take it away, lads”? Tick.
The album is dripping in cliche, but Walsh is not trying to rewrite the rulebook. He is, after all, the biggest selling debut artist of 2016. Hackneyed but inoffensive fun.
TEARS FOR FEARS — RULE THE WORLD: THE GREATEST HITS
Beyond the immediate fanboy euphoria, it can be slightly jarring when one of your favourite bands, whose best output is nearly three decades old, decides to record new music.
Tears For Fears opted to do just that with two newly recorded tracks on this greatest hits record, which documents the duo’s high-flying Eighties from The Hurting’s Mad World and Pale Shelter to The Seeds Of Love’s Advice For The Young At Heart (and five singles from Songs From The Big Chair to boot).
I Love You But I’m Lost, the first of those new tracks and the band’s first new material since 2004, flaunts a dancefloor sound that could rival any pop artists’ latest attempt at a chart hit.
Curt Smith takes the reins for the single, while Roland Orzabal leads familiarly on the haunting acoustics of Stay.
It is a remarkable effort for a track to feel at ease on a band’s biggest hits record, but the latter certainly holds up.
With the promise of a whole album of new music round the corner, perhaps some things aren’t always best left alone.