Albums of the week - from Emeli Sande to Status Quo
The Quo return with Backbone after the loss of Rick Parfitt and there are fresh offerings from Emeli Sande, Metronomy and nu metallers Korn.
STATUS QUO - BACKBONE
Some might question the band making an album of new material, given the loss of Rick Parfitt, but life goes on and so does the mighty Quo.
They have played more than 130 shows with the new line-up and it shows in the tightness of the material on display here.
It kicks off with Waiting for a Woman, the 12-bar chug kicking in and pummelling the listener into submission.
Climate change number Running Out Of Time shows the band are living in 2019.
Songs like the title track will rightly take their place in the live set alongside the classics.
Were they right to release this? On the strength of the energy on show, most definitely.
10/10: Steve Grantham
EMELI SANDE - REAL LIFE
Take a deep breath and ready yourself for Emeli Sande's third album,a gut-wrenching foray into her deepest feelings.
Having gone through a period of difficulty in her life, Sande has come out the other side.
Across this collection, she rises like a phoenix with tunes that are epic, melodic and uplifting, with a deft touch on show throughout.
You Are Not Alone is a resounding, spine-tingling ballad, as is the oversized and uptempo Shine, complete with the most bombastic, uplifting chorus.
Sparrow is a power ballad backed by an orchestra, and then there's the delectable Extraordinary Being, all fast beats and Motown edges.
Sande's first two albums hit number one and number two in the charts respectively, so she has a lot to live up to, but this may be her best work yet.
9/10: Lucy Mapstone
SAM FENDER - HYPERSONIC MISSILES
The highly anticipated debut from Geordie artist Sam Fender has finally arrived after what seems like an eternity.
Named as one of the BBC's Sounds of 2018, Fender brings truth, guts and flair to his brand of rock.
Hypersonic Missiles opens with the political and aptly named Hypersonic Missiles. And if you are wondering, no that Bruce Springsteen vibe isn't a mistake; Fender previously cited the Born To Run singer as one of his influences.
It's Two People is an emotionally wrought tale of domestic violence that offers a stunning audio portrait of Fender's vocals against the backdrop of an acoustic guitar.
8/10: Charlotte Kelly
KORN - THE NOTHING
After a few years of momentous personal change for Korn frontman Jonathan Davis, The Nothing is a collection of thoughts, questions and pain.
While The Serenity of Suffering was a dark, dirty record, The Nothing sounds significantly lighter.
The Darkness Is Revealing is an outpouring of grief by Davis, a disjointed voice floating in and out from Brian 'Head' Welch's relentless riffs.
Each track moves silkily into the next, and in the blink of an eye you're transported down the rabbit hole and into the swirling despair that Davis is pulling himself out of.
Old fans will be glad to know that Korn's legacy is safe.
7/10: Rachel Howdle
METRONOMY - METRONOMY FOREVER
Ask Metronomy's casually self-deprecating singer Joe Mount about the importance of his band's latest album and you are likely to get a shrug.
But the group's sixth record, Metronomy Forever, is a contender for their best yet.
Mount, who writes and records alone, sticks to the personal here, finding a musical and emotional balance not seen on previous albums.
Family and fame (or his perceived lack of it) feature heavily in the lyrics, as do the pressures of being a modern man.
Now 36 and with two children, Mount's mind is on more earthly matters than nights out and dancing until sunrise.
At 17 songs in length, Metronomy Forever is a beguiling, if at times disorientating, collection of songs, not least because of the range of sounds Mount draws on.
He spent much of 2017 co-writing and producing Swedish pop princess Robyn's album Honey, and Mount seems to have paid attention to her focused emotional palate.
Songs like Insecurity and Lately regain the tight energy of Metronomy's less sprawling, less conceptual, works.
There's also the band's trademark cosmic disco, punctuated by Mount's keening, sometimes cartoonish, falsetto.
This remains unchanged and is just as joyous as before.
7/10: Alex Green