Albums of the week - from Two Door Cinema Club to Mark Ronson
This week we cast our ears over new albums from the likes of Will Young, NI trio Two Door Cinema Club and uber-producer and top DJ Mark Ronson, who is releasing a collection of what he calls 'sad bangers'.
HOT CHIP - A BATH FULL OF ECSTASY
Festival season is upon us and stage favourites Hot Chip are back with their melancholy yet joyous pop synth. Owen Clarke, Al Doyle, Joe Goddard, Felix Martin and Alexis Taylor have delivered their seventh studio album - A Bath Full of Ecstasy.
There is plenty of influence here from the 70s and 80s, hints of Depeche Mode, Prince and even a run reminiscent of mixtape favourite Tiffany's I Think We're Alone Now in the form of Spell (a jerky, rhythmic and foot tapping piece of magnificence).
Overall this album creates a deep breath sigh of relaxation and delivers involuntary shoulder dancing and head bobbing as you lose yourself to the tempo and the heady euphoric Hungry Child is ready and waiting for your presence on the dance floor.
9/10: Rachel Howdle
MARK RONSON - LATE NIGHT FEELINGS
A departure in style from the unstoppable Uptown Funk, Mark Ronson shrugs off the upbeat in Late Night Feelings. Aptly called a collection of 'sad bangers' by the musician himself, the new album sidesteps late night euphoria to tell the story of early morning melancholy instead.
An all-female cast of vocalists - from megastars Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys to gay icon King Princess - sing lyrics tinged with heartbreak, which have been borne out of Ronson's recent divorce.
The combination of strong female vocals and a blend of funk and soul creates a powerful album with tracks bound to stand out individually.
8/10: Emma Bowden
WILL YOUNG - LEXICON
With the release of a Will Young album, you can always be sure of one thing -the quality will never waver. Having delivered six solid albums since his breakthrough on Pop Idol nearly 20 years ago, all peaking at number one or two in the charts, the singer-songwriter has more than proved his worth as a viable, legitimate artist.
For this, his seventh record, Young admittedly wanted to take the pressure off himself a little, allowing a cast of other songwriters to contribute rather than putting pen to paper all by himself, including the likes of singer-songwriter Tom Walker and his former collaborators Richard X, Jim Eliot and Mima Stilwell.
With an injection of effortless, almost Ibiza chill-esque stylings, particularly in the songs My Love and Scars, Lexicon is perhaps one of the strongest albums of 2019 so far.
It's not bombastic, it's not challenging, it's not experimental - it's just Will Young at his calm, measured, confident best.
8/10: Lucy Mapstone
TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB - FALSE ALARM
The Northern Irish indie trio's fourth album leans further into the electronic stylings of its 2016 predecessor Gameshow, landing squarely in The 1975's wheelhouse.
Singles Talk and Satellite are two of the stronger offerings, while the rangy centrepiece Nice To See You shows every trick up the band's sleeve - though could probably cope without guest rapper Open Mike Eagle.
The album may not blow away the uninitiated and has not ended their wait for a chart single, but it is sure to please existing fans and has earned the band some prime spots in the summer's festival rotation.
6/10: Tom White
MR HUDSON - WHEN THE MACHINE STOPS
Mr Hudson was instrumental in making Kanye West's definitive fourth record 808s & Heartbreak, which dropped in 2008 and was a dose of existential malaise and social angst.
It normalised vulnerability in mainstream rap, opening the floodgates for the likes of Drake and Future. Underpinning all this was the voice of British musician Mr Hudson, who West plucked from obscurity.
A decade on, Mr Hudson has decided to revisit the album's 'sad robot' sound. When The Machine Stops certainly has a retro-futuristic feel, but its concept feels strained.
Mr Hudson is a different man now - a go-to collaborator for the likes of Jay Z, DJ Snake, Frank Ocean, Idris Elba and Duran Duran. His skill lends the record a sense of balance even at its most eclectic.
But he trips over his own feet as he rushes to pay tribute to the sci-fi cinema of Blade Runner and Prometheus, and in the process makes the future sound like the past.
5/10: Alex Green