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Albums of the week - from The 1975 to Charli XCX


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Matthew Healy, Ross MacDonald, George Daniel and Adam Hann of The 1975 (Ian West/PA)

Matthew Healy, Ross MacDonald, George Daniel and Adam Hann of The 1975 (Ian West/PA)

The 1975's latest album

The 1975's latest album

Matthew Healy, Ross MacDonald, George Daniel and Adam Hann of The 1975 (Ian West/PA)

The 1975 release their fourth LP, while there is an album conceived and recorded in lockdown by pop futurist Charli XCX.

THE 1975 - NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM

There aren't many good albums that could mix Greta Thunberg, '80s-inspired pop and intense punk vocals, yet Notes On A Conditional Form is the exception. The 1975's fourth album is a masterclass in the range of the alternative genre.

Its traditional The 1975 opener is given to a Greta Thunberg speech set to gentle piano music, outlining the tone of the radical album.

Unsurprisingly for The 1975, it does not shy away from issues of justice - from the shouty, infectious punk of People to the sweetly subversive Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America, where Americana and queerness collide.

Clocking in at just over 80 minutes, the 22-track album is a commitment but would be well worth dedicating the time to, even without a lockdown.

Sung tracks are interspersed by swelling orchestral breaks before the album closes on an affectionate tribute to friendship in Guys.

The album does have its lulls, and Shiny Collarbone is simply bizarre, so you could be forgiven if your attention wanders once or twice.

Infrequent low points aside, Notes On A Conditional Form is another hit from the darlings of the alternative genre and demonstrates the quartet's sheer talent across the board.

8/10

Jess Glass

CHARLI XCX - HOW I'M FEELING NOW

Fully conceived and created amid the pandemic, how i'm feeling now (stylised in all lower case) is perhaps the first truly important quarantine album.

Charli XCX's pop futurist sensibilities make her the perfect artist to document the unsettling, often contradictory, emotions prompted by living through this global event.

The British pop maverick worked on the album from her home in Los Angeles, giving fans unprecedented access to her creative process.

While Charli XCX's work usually exudes rigorous, sometimes scathing, self examination, it's usually balanced by a party-girl escapism.

Here there is no escape.

Forever evokes the longed-for day when friends will reunite and embrace, cocooning the listener in a sedative blanket of auto-tune.

Charli XCX has created something that encapsulates the here and now in all its glory and banality, whilst also looking to the future.

9/10

Alex Green

TIM BURGESS - I LOVE THE NEW SKY

We're living in strange and uncertain times where normality ceases to exist, but at least we've got Tim Burgess to give us stability and familiarity. Don't we?

Well, what can fans expect from the fifth solo album from the Charlatan himself?

Well, it's strange to say the least. He brings the childlike, quirky charm that he has trademarked, over swooping, psychedelic sonics, with Beatles-style backing harmonics and plenty of organ, making you feel like you have been transported to a time where things were more carefree, summery and free.

Upbeat, and a familiar, friendly voice. It's cheerful weirdness and great escapism for these trying times.

6/10

Sophie Goodall

BADLY DRAWN BOY - BANANA SKIN SHOES

Badly Drawn Boy's eighth album in the 20 years since the Mercury Music Prize-winning The Hour Of Bewilderbeast -and first studio LP in a decade - is a sparkling return to provide solace in these difficult times.

Damon Gough played four of the tracks, I Just Want To Wish You Happiness, I'll Do My Best, Is This A Dream? and Never Change, at a joyous gig at London's Roundhouse in January, before the world went dark, and the remaining 10 are equally strong.

It's not a radical departure from Gough's previous albums, but the best tracks here are as good as anything he's released, which is a high bar, and will soundtrack the better days to come.

8/10

Matthew George

STEVE EARLE AND THE DUKES - GHOSTS OF WEST VIRGINIA

Ghosts Of West Virginia is a powerful concept album that brings to life an historic tragedy through the gritty twang of Americana music.

The tragedy is the Upper Big Branch mining disaster in April 2010, which cost the lives of 29 men, making it one of the worst in America's history.

The story behind the album, which is Earle's 20th and was created in collaboration with playwrights Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, is an appropriate reminder that in times of pain and hardship the importance of community is paramount.

7/10

Michael Bedigan

Belfast Telegraph