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Albums of the week - from Pet Shop Boys to Twin Atlantic


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Twin Atlantic - Power

Twin Atlantic - Power

Pet Shop Boys - Hotspot

Pet Shop Boys - Hotspot

Mura Masa - R.Y.C.

Mura Masa - R.Y.C.

Wire - Mind Hive

Wire - Mind Hive

Twin Atlantic - Power

Synth-pop legends the Pet Shop Boys are back with their 14th studio album, Hotspot, while this week there is also a new release from British electronic music producer Mura Masa.

Pet Shop Boys - Hotspot

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Pet Shop Boys - Hotspot

Pet Shop Boys - Hotspot

Pet Shop Boys - Hotspot

Creating an album which echoes some of the best aspects of their extensive back catalogue without it sounding predictable is quite a feat but one that Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have pulled off.

It's clear from their 14th studio album that they still enjoy working together creatively and the duo's enjoyment in what they do shines through in the third of a trilogy of albums with producer Stuart Price, following Electric in 2013 and Super in 2016.

Like the single Dreamland, featuring Years & Years, Hotspot gets better with each listen.

Like much of the Pet Shop Boys' best work, it's an album of strong emotions, climaxing with the joyful Wedding in Berlin.

A 10-track treat for fans.

9/10

Beverley Rouse

Mura Masa - R.Y.C.

Mura Masa - R.Y.C.

Mura Masa's much-anticipated second album R.Y.C (Raw Youth Collage) is likely to surprise listeners familiar with the Grammy-nominated hitmaker.

Real name Alex Crossan, the Guernsey-born producer burst onto the electronic music scene with his eponymous first album in 2017 when he was just 21. Where Crossan is known to shine is with his choice of collaborations - his starry first album featured the likes of ASAP Rocky, Charli XCX and Nao, to name just a few.

Northampton rapper Slowthai makes an appearance on R.Y.C in Deal Wiv It, which brings an unexpected and bouncy punk feel to an otherwise introspective 11-track album, while Wolf Alice's Ellie Rowsell delivers a rock-inspired edge on Teenage Headache Dreams.

Definitely raw and youthful, Crossan's change in direction shows an artist with the ability to tap into current trends and draw the best out of collaborators.

8/10

Emma Bowden

Twin Atlantic - Power

Twin Atlantic have always relished their outsider status. Nestled far away from what they call the 'slippery industry folk' in London, the Glaswegian three-piece have cultivated both an unapologetic power-rock sound and a devoted fan base.

That's not to say commercial success has alluded them, their last two albums both cracked the top 10. Their fifth record Power - their first since parting from Red Bull Records - could be the key to further success.

Power ripples with the band's stadium-sized choruses, this time laced with the industrial throb of synths.

There's plenty of talk of revolutions and dramatic love affairs - frontman Sam McTrusty's lyrics can sometimes descend into pastiche.

However, it is this acute earnestness that fans love. Power is a distillation of Twin Atlantic's sound - their most honest album yet.

7/10

Alex Green

Polica - When We Stay Alive

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Polica - When We Stay Alive

Polica - When We Stay Alive

Polica - When We Stay Alive

Polica's fourth studio album was born from the darkest of times for singer Channy Leaneagh, who fell from her roof while clearing ice, damaging her spine so badly she was in a brace with limited mobility for months.

So When We Stay Alive is about healing and recovery, with the lush results transcending the trauma of its origin, and finding redemption.

Polica have been cult favourites since emerging from producer Ryan Olson's Gayngs project a decade ago and this career high should be the album to propel them into the mainstream.

8.5/10

Matthew George

Wire - Mind Hive

Wire - Mind Hive

Forty-three years after Wire's first record, three of the four who made it - Robert Grey, Colin Newman and Graham Lewis - have made their 17th album, with Matthew Simms having replaced Bruce Gilbert, who left in 2006.

Far from slowing as they got older, the 2010s were their most productive decade; they released five albums, each the artistic equal of their late 1970s trilogy of Pink Flag/Chairs Missing/154.

With Mind Hive, they are continuing where 2017's Silver/Lead left off.

There are the post-punk songs you expect, such as Be Like Them and Oklahoma, but there are more of the left-field pop songs they have done so brilliantly since Outdoor Miner was a minor hit in 1979.

There is no other band in their fifth decade making music as vital as Wire.

9/10

Padraig Collins

Belfast Telegraph