Albums of the week - from Sigrid to Dido
It's a big week for musical comebacks and new beginnings, as old favourite Dido returns with a fresh album and BBC Music Sound of 2018 winner Sigrid finally drops her eagerly anticipated debut.
SIGRID - SUCKER PUNCH
Norway's Sigrid won the BBC Music Sound of 2018 after established herself with debut single Don't Kill My Vibe in 2017, so this album has been highly anticipated by those who love pop with attitude and intelligence.
Four singles are already familiar to us, including top 10 hit Strangers, opening track Sucker Punch and current single Don't Feel Like Crying.
There are plenty more pop bangers to love, Basic and Sight Of You being highlights.
Slower tracks In Vain and Dynamite showcase the power of Sigrid's voice, which sounds raw on the former and Adele-esque on the latter.
It's been quite a wait for this debut but, for this no-frills, relatable pop star, it has been worth it.
8/10: Lisa Allen
DIDO - STILL ON MY MIND
Sometimes it feels like every album Dido releases is marketed as a 'comeback'. It's the curse of an artist who takes her time.
This time the Islington-raised singer, whose voice soundtracked a decade, returns after five years with her most unashamedly dance-influenced album.
Still On My Mind sees Dido, now out of the chaotic first years of motherhood, revisiting the sounds that defined her.
Across 12 tracks she dips into her forgotten past as a singerwith electronica band Faithless (founded by her brother).
But don't try to get up and bop to these songs. They're as cool, almost glacial, as her earlier work. They drift by in a haze of choral voices, evocative synths and humming bass.
On top of all this is her voice - unchanged by five years away from the studio and 15 years since her last tour.
All this makes for an enjoyable potpourri of sounds, tied together by Dido's unparalleled voice.
6/10: Alex Green
THE JAPANESE HOUSE - GOOD AT FALLING
This debut album from The Japanese House, or Amber Bain to her mum, has been a long time coming.
Good At Falling comes off the back of four EPs by the 23-year-old Londoner, all full of complex, multi-layered harmonies, floating keyboards, intricate guitar lines and skittering drums that breathed fresh life into the UK's indie scene.
She's spent the last four years largely under the wing of Brit award-winning label mates The 1975, who took her on tour and helped produce her music.
This influence has given her a bigger, bolder synth-pop sound that will appeal to a bigger, broader audience. But it has also made The Japanese House almost indistinguishable from her mentors.
Amber Bain deserves every success coming her way but, for now, the question will linger:, what could have been if she'd done it alone?
7/10: Alastair Reid
FAT COPS - FAT COPS
This new band hits the shelves with its eponymous first album. Formed by the bass player after being bequeathed a bass guitar by his late aunt, it includes, among others, Al Murray, aka 'The Pub Landlord', on drums and Robert Hodgens, ex-The Bluebells, on guitar.
There's no one defining theme or style to the 10 tracks. If anything, Lou Reed would seem to be a reference point for songs like Drink All The Drink and Good Looking. Then again, Hands Up! Get Down! is a catchy, baggy groover that would probably make a successful single.
It's definitely a mixed bag, but it's different enough to stand out from the crowd.
7/10: Steve Grantham
RYUICHI SAKAMOTO - BTTB (20TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
Ryuichi Sakamoto is known for wearing all manner of hats. To some he is the composer of the Bafta-winning score to Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence - the 1980s war drama in which he starred alongside David Bowie.
To others, he's one-third of influential synth-pop group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO). And for modern audiences, he may well only be known for his superb 2016 ambient record Async.
BTTB stands, if you wondered, for Back to the Basics, and the veteran Japanese artist's rare and now re-released 14th record is true to its name.
Twenty years from the album's original release, BTTB sounds as beguiling as ever.
Sakamoto has made a career of leading listeners down paths they're not expecting and, back to the basics or otherwise, that's no different here.
7/10: Steve Jones