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Albums of the week - from Black Eyed Peas to Haim


Women In Music Pt. III

Women In Music Pt. III

Roy Ayers' return to studio recording is short but incredibly sweet

Roy Ayers' return to studio recording is short but incredibly sweet

Women In Music Pt. III

London singer-songwriter Jessie Ware delivers a refreshing return to the dancefloor on her fourth long player and there is also new music from American pop-rockers Haim.


After 18 years away, Roy Ayers' return to studio recording is short but incredibly sweet. The eight-track JID002 was born out of a series of shows in his hometown of Los Angeles and produced totally analogue with the aid of composer Adrian Younge and a Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Perhaps partly for that reason, Ayers really feels like he's recapturing the 70s LA soul for which he's famed while absorbing the newer jazz styles he had such a great role in inspiring.

Highlights include the infectious funk bass on Soulful and Unique and opener Syncronize Vibration - a joyful throwback which could just as easily have sat on his classic record Everybody Loves The Sunshine.


Stephen Jones


It was around a decade ago that Jessie Ware first began to make waves, a club-ready vocalist elevated by collaborations with electronic acts including SBTRKT and Disclosure.

But in recent years, Ware faded into the mainstream. The Londoner's 2017 release Glasshouse verged on generic, struggling to recapture the excitement, and success, of her two earlier albums.

What's Your Pleasure? is a refreshing return to the dancefloor for Ware.

The 12-track album is smoky, hazy and flirtatious with its intimate lyrics and a contemporary take on 1980s disco and funk.

Ware's electricity in Save A Kiss could fill a sweaty nightclub - if they were open, of course - as her powerful tones pulse with the strings and synths.

Whispered verses build anticipation in the sultry title-track, while Mirage (Don't Stop) is a hazy summer anthem featuring a subtle nod to Bananarama's hit Cruel Summer.

A return to music following the success of her podcast Table Manners, Ware's latest release is, undoubtedly, a pleasure to enjoy.


Emma Bowden


With Women in Music Pt. III, Haim show that there are melodies and textures aplenty to explore and do so with their customary elan.

The cover art shows the three Haims standing behind a bar, waiting to serve us - their sardonic take on Women in Music, perhaps?

Hard to say, just as it's hard to pin down Haim's sound with an almost Nashville vibe on The Steps, but then elsewhere we find minimal arrangements, velvety saxophone lines weaving in and out, lending a Jamaican flavour to the ska-like LA.

Three singles released last year are included as bonus tracks, notably the catchy Now I'm In It and Summer Girl.


Rachel Farrow


Texan trio Khruangbin provide the perfect heatwave listening with their third album, a shimmering melting pot of styles and sounds.

Bassist Laura Lee Ochoa, guitarist Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson were originally influenced by Thai funk - the language provides the name, 'flying engine' or aeroplane - but have always refused to be pigeonholed into any genre.

For the first time Khruangbin include vocals on most tracks, many on the theme of holding on to fading memories. Opener First Class is a lush funk groove, while Time (You And I) ups the tempo with some classic disco. It could be the soundtrack to a never-released 1970s film or to a half-forgotten dream.


Matthew George


The cover of the Black Eyed Pea's eighth studio album features rappers Will.i.am, Apl.de.ap and Taboo portrayed as Fortnite-esque virtual avatars. It's a fitting image, symbolising their slow transformation from left-field conscious rap outfit to commercial self-parody.

At first Translation looks like a bald land-grab, a stab at co-opting the popular Latin pop trend. But, shockingly, it is their best work since 2003's wildly successful Elephunk.

Will.i.am and crew have captured something missing since Fergie's departure - restraint. Despite a never-ending list of guests, it also feels considered, groovy and refreshed.

Shakira turns Girl Like Me into something strangely intimate and moving, while J Balvin adds a dash of swagger to RITMO (Bad Boys For Life).

The Black Eyed Peas have found a vein of inventiveness. Let's hope they keep mining it.


Alex Green

Belfast Telegraph