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Albums of the week - from The Fizz to Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds


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Noel Gallagher of Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (Photo by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images)

Noel Gallagher of Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (Photo by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images)

Getty Images

The Fizz

The Fizz

Noel Gallagher of Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds (Photo by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images)

Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds drop their latest EP, Blue Moon Rising, while there's also a new solo album from US musician Stephen Malkmus, best known for being in indie rock band Pavement.

STEPHEN MALKMUS - TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES

Beabadoobee sings "I wish I was Stephen Malkmus", and the influence of the leader of Nineties slacker princes Pavement is clear in new bands like Kiwi Jr. But Malkmus always stays a few steps ahead, and his third album in three years - and third properly solo LP - is aeons away from Pavement classics such as Trigger Cut or Cut Your Hair.

As the title implies, this is a folk album, driven by 12-string guitar and using a variety of Afghan instruments for that late Sixties East meets West sound.

Six-minute opener ACC Kirtan sets the controls for the heart of the sun, while single Xian Man heads yet further out.

So while everyone is jumping on the Malkmus bandwagon, the man himself has already gone, and what a long strange trip it is.

8.5/10

Matthew George

THE FIZZ - SMOKE AND MIRRORS

There are a lot of things influenced by the Eighties around at the moment, from TV shows like Stranger Things to snippets of music videos and the return of synthesisers.

One thing that can't be said about The Fizz is that they're breaking new ground, but why should they? Fully aware that their fans expect a certain sound, The Fizz - along with the musical stylings of Mike Stock - have woven an album that feels of its time. It feels like it was there all along.

With their tongues firmly in their cheeks there is a throwback to when the biggest bop on TV was Top Of The Pops. Smoke And Mirrors is definitely The Fizz's love letter to their fans.

7/10

Rachel Howdle

NOEL GALLAGHER'S HIGH FLYING BIRDS - BLUE MOON RISING (EP)

I'm left with many questions after whiling away my time with Noel's latest EP. The biggest one, however, is: is it really a Christmas song?

If you haven't had the chance to listen to Wandering Star, I'll let you make your own mind up. One thing it is though is the standout track on Blue Moon Rising. It has an uplifting feel of togetherness, whether that be at Christmas or throughout life, and the vocals have a tender touch to them which fills you with happiness.

In a throwback to Oasis, Come On Outside is, well, a throwback to Oasis. You get the feeling that he's had this tucked away for years and stumbled across an old demo at the back of the sofa and thought "I may as well put it out there". For what it's worth though, I quite like it.

Maybe the biggest question isn't whether Wandering Star is a Christmas song or not; it's probably in which direction is Noel going now, because this EP is a bit of a mish-mash of styles.

6/10

Nick Hayward

PHANTOGRAM - CEREMONY

A decade on from their Massive Attack-indebted debut album, Eyelid Movies, Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter have completed an unlikely evolution. Few would have predicted the New York-based duo's transformation from dreamy hip hop songwriters to bona fide pop outfit with anthems ready-made for Coachella festival.

Ceremony, their fourth album, sounds like the natural culmination of the past 10 years: a distillation of their faintly ominous, breakbeat-heavy sound and cheeky sense of humour.

Ceremony features some of Phantogram's tightest songwriting yet, and sounds ready for festival audiences across the US.

6/10

Alex Green

REAL ESTATE - THE MAIN THING

When Real Estate emerged from New Jersey at the end of the Noughties their lo-fi woozy approach, all reverb and submerged vocals, won plenty of hearts.

Since then there's been the traumatic exit of a founding member, and their fifth album comes after the launch of a Real Estate signature wine.

Now those early rough edges have been smoothed away, and the laidback charm transformed into tasteful guitar rock, closer to polished FM giants like Steely Dan and Roxy Music - the album title is a track on Avalon - than the crackly dreampop of their early days.

Much of the album is too one-paced to grab attention beyond the hardcore fans, though I'd like to see whether these songs have more impact live.

6/10

Matthew George

Belfast Telegraph