Albums of the week: Fickle Friends to Kim Wilde
Indie-pop rockers Fickle Friends make a big impact with their highly anticipated debut album, while Kim Wilde and Alexandra Burke hope to impress with their latest efforts.
FICKLE FRIENDS — YOU ARE SOMEONE ELSE
After an endless stream of single releases, it seemed a long, distant wait for Fickle Friends’ debut album.
You Are Someone Else is nostalgic for the past — for the 1980s — and it pays homage to genre-defining songs from the likes of Whitney, Tiffany, Shannon, and the other major pop players of the decade.
The tracks combine this with current dance and trance sounds, heard in Glue and Bite, but overall this knows exactly where it belongs. With a primarily synth base, the album is packed with little touches, shows flawless production and is bound to fill any dancefloor. The most striking elements are the big, singalong choruses, which are executed brilliantly.
Whether your kind of music or not, it is intense, fast and erratic. It keeps you on your toes and is an excellent pop album.
KIM WILDE — HERE COME THE ALIENS
Kim Wilde once warned you should Never Trust A Stranger. Here is another public service announcement.
The UK’s green-fingered queen of 1980s new wave pop has cultivated an obsession with little green men.
“They’re out there in the stars, maybe they come from Mars”, she sings on 1969, the tacit title track. Inspired by Wilde’s own close encounter, the glam-rock stomp sees Wilde as a girl, gazing starry-eyed at black-and-white broadcasts of the first Moon landing, before turning her thoughts to distant galaxies.
Pop Don’t Stop pays homage to Buggles classic Video Killed The Radio Star with its piano-led intro before bursting away on an interplanetary path. The highlight comes with Kandy Krush, the closest thing to Wilde’s touchstone hit Kids In America.
The real revelation here is that her 14th studio album might be the Chelsea Flower Show gold medallist’s finest non-horticultural work in decades.
ALEXANDRA BURKE — THE TRUTH IS
Alexandra Burke, who won The X Factor a mindboggling 10 years ago, is finally dropping her third studio album, The Truth Is, after a six-year wait.
She’s grown as an artist and as a woman, particularly in the past year — what with her successful Strictly stint and death of her mother — and is set to make her mark again.
But for all that life experience and the absorption of a more musical, theatre-friendly style — thanks to her years treading the boards in the West End — this new effort doesn’t feel like she’s quite giving her best... yet.
Nothing is particularly bad — her voice is one of the best of her generation — and the production is fair enough. The power ballads are pleasant, if a bit lacking in true heart, while other tracks have the essence of something great but fall short of brilliance.
This certainly isn’t one to write off, but one to perhaps think of as a precursor to Burke’s next release, which will hopefully see her really pin down her style and flaunt her talents to the full.
CASEY — WHERE I GO WHEN I AM SLEEPING
The second album from the melodic Welsh post-hardcore group. On this album, Casey are unafraid to expose their physical and emotional traumas. More specifically, vocalist Tom Weaver recalls ongoing and past episodes of his life, which include a diagnosis of brittle bones, colitis, a heart attack and manic depression.
Weaver and his bandmates lay everything out in this raw, emotionally charged record.
Sometimes this genre can be a little self-indulgent, but Casey get the balance right, mainly due to the honesty and subject matter. One imagines the recording process provided some form of cathartic release. There are no real standout tracks — it is a record best experienced as a whole.
ADY SULEIMAN — MEMORIES
Ady Suleiman’s debut album has been a long time coming. Much of the delay was apparently spent getting out of a record deal with Simon Cowell’s Syco label, and it’s clear within the first few foul-mouthed seconds of opening track I Remember why they were probably never a good fit.
Suleiman follows closely the template set by Amy Winehouse, matching foul-mouthed, brutally personal lyrics with a smooth, contemporary jazz backing. It’s no wonder he has gained approval from similar artists including Laura Mvula and Leanne Le Havas.
He’s not up to their standard yet — some tunes aren’t entirely memorable, and his blunt take on relationships is tinged with am unpleasant laddishness — but when he lets his guard down, as on the gorgeous Longing For Your Love, you can believe he might become one of the greats.