Albums of the week - from Vampire Weekend to Johnny Lloyd
Former X Factor star Lucy Spraggan brings out her fifth studio album, Today Was A Good Day, and there are also new records from rockers Vampire Weekend, Editors and The Wildhearts
Lucy Spraggan - Today Was A Good Day
Former X Factor contestant Lucy Spraggan's conversational, storyteller style has only progressed thanks to time and experience. On her fifth album, the 27-year-old singer-songwriter is in a really great place and she's clearly excited to share it with her fans. This mood makes for a joyful, uplifting listen. It's almost possible to forget that she ever came from a reality show, so unique and refreshing is she as an artist. See interview, right.
Vampire Weekend - Father Of The Bride
Given what a seismic pop event each new Vampire Weekend record has proven to be, it's almost impossible to believe that their latest, Father Of The Bride, is only their fourth. What's more, how is it that without a studio album since 2013, they can still be so present in the modern pop psyche?
The answers are easily found here - Ezra Koenig's New Yorkers are again painting with a varied palette, and as ever the song-craft rarely falters.
There's plenty in this record to capture the imagination after six long years of waiting.
Editors - The Blanck Mass Sessions
Replacing guitars with synths, this eight-track offering is the alternative version of Editors' 2018 release Violence. The original was already hailed as a departure from the band's indie-rock style, with the group seemingly dipping their toes into the electronic scene. The Blanck Mass Sessions takes this further, releasing the result of producer Blanck Mass's deconstruction of their usual sound.
Opening track Barricades is a new release, exploring their electronic side with punchy drum machines. Hallelujah (So Low) and Nothingness showcase frontman Tom Smith's strength of vocals, without being overwhelmed by the use of synths in both.
Although this album takes Editors out of their comfort zone, at times it feels as if the vocals and the production aren't in perfect harmony. Fans hoping for something different from Editors can be encouraged by this release: although the companion album doesn't quite reach the heights of the original, it is likely to go down well in venues and fields during the summer festival season.
The Wildhearts - Renaissance Men
Ten years away have not calmed The Wildhearts down and the Geordie four-piece come storming out of the gates on their return with the raucous Dislocated. The band's classic line-up - frontman Ginger, fellow guitarist CJ, bassist Danny McCormack and drummer Ritch Battersby - are reunited and it quickly shows as the sly wit of Let 'Em Go recalls their classic Greetings From S***sville.
But only Little Flower and My Side Of The Bed truly stand out in the second half of a good-not-great album, but by this stage the band are playing with house money, and overall it is just great to have them back.
Johnny Lloyd - Next Episode Starts in 15 Seconds
Camden Town indie rocker Johnny Lloyd is the man who finally made Billie Piper happy. When he met the Olivier Award-winning actress she was in the middle of a messy divorce from Lewis star Laurence Fox.
Lloyd had also recently gone through a difficult break-up - with his vaunted indie band Tribes, whose second album had failed to match their first.
Three years on, they appear to have found domestic bliss. Their daughter, Tallulah, was born in January and Lloyd is writing the music for Piper's directorial movie debut, Rare Beasts. On Next Episode Starts In 15 Seconds, Lloyd's voice is softer, tempered by the challenges of fatherhood and a new-found distance from the debauchery of Tribes. Lloyd's checklist of famous friends - Frank Turner, Hugo White of The Maccabees, and Adam Prendergast of Harry Styles's band - adds a dash of star power to proceedings.
The album sounds like a series of diary entries. Recorded in two or three takes each, it feels like a series of snapshots from Lloyd's life. Fatherhood has prompted him to tear away the well-trodden indie tropes Tribes were often guilty of falling back on. What's left is far more pleasing.