Serge Pizzorno, Taylor Swift, Kano and Natasha Bedingfield - Album reviews
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian fame delivers a pretty much perfect debut solo album alongside similarly strong efforts from Taylor Swift and grime heavyweight Kano.
Serge Pizzorno aka The SLP - The SLP
The time is here. Kasabian guitarist and all-rounder Serge Pizzorno's side project The S.L.P. has been unleashed.
Oh my, this a record and a half. It's huge, atmospheric and cinematic. From the opening instrumental Meanwhile... In Genova, you realise that The S.L.P. is something special.
Favourites is the first single, and as far as first peeps go, this is out there. Poppy, dirty, funky western hip-hop. It's a melting pot of fabulousness that proves that if you were expecting a Kasabian record, you won't be disappointed - you'd be wrong.
Lockdown has a stripped-back vocal. The music is huge and swirls and aches with longing. ((trance)) picks up the pace with a bossa nova beat, leading into the grimy The Wu.
Not one track is the same and all take you on a musical and emotional journey.
Taylor Swift - Lover
Following Taylor Swift's 2016 annus horribilis, when she was criticised for her 'fauxmance' with Tom Hiddleston and rowed with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West, it's a delight to hear she is now in a great place.
Lover is an example of her talent as a lyricist and musical powerhouse. Opening track I Forgot That You Existed is pretty much the only time Swift shows her angry side, but it's wrapped up in a peppy pop coating, her Reputation-era rage all but gone.
There's the epic-sounding and lyrically charming Lover that, quite frankly, should have been the album's lead single.
Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince is another top tune with clever references to American high school life.
The cutesy London Boy, about Swift's adoration of the British capital, is cheesy, but she manages to pull it off.
Kano - Hoodies All Summer
As grime rockets into the mainstream, a few early names on the scene continue to flourish by pushing boundaries.
Kano is one such artist and this, his sixth album, is full of the creativity he's known for.
Where 2016 Mercury-nominated Made In The Manor was introspective, Hoodies All Summer kicks off with a commentary on modern Britain in Good Youtes Walk Amongst Evil. Gospel-tinged Trouble tackles knife crime, launching a conversation about inner-city issues.
Pan-Fried, featuring fellow Londoner Kojo Funds, brings a fiery feelgood sound that continues into Can't Hold We Down with Popcaan, which has the melancholic tone that made a hit of A Roadman's Hymn.
With a powerful 10-track album and a returning role in Top Boy next month, the end of the summer look promising for this grime veteran.
Las Aves - I'll Never Give Up On Love Until I Can Put A Name On It
Toulouse trio Las Aves bring a little bit of rave and a lot of teen angst to the indie disco with their second album, which packs into its short half-hour running time a rollercoaster ride of heightened emotions.
The hipster equivalent of those early 1960s girl bands who sang of bad boyfriends and teenage heartbreak, Las Aves add a modern twist by focusing on tales of Tinder dates and text message misunderstandings.
A sense of humour keeps things from getting too intense, with You Need A Dog, in particular, offering a hilarious solution to man troubles.
Natasha Bedingfield - Roll With Me
Some 15 years ago a little-known singer from West Sussex called Natasha Bedingfield released her debut album, Unwritten, and rocketed into the public consciousness.
For years, she struggled to match its success. When in 2012 she scrapped her fourth record, tentatively titled The Next Chapter, many thought she never would. Seven years on, LA-based Bedingfield has finally released her follow-up - and enough has changed to make it worthy of a listen.
Opener Kick It contains all the hallmarks of an on-trend songwriter: the bashment-lite rhythms favoured by Ed Sheeran and a catchy vocal line.
King of the World, an ode to her 20-month-old son Solomon, sounds like it could have been written for Olly Murs but is lifted from mundanity by her vocal chops.
Where We Going Now has a more classic Bedingfield feel to it, as does Can't Look Away. It's on these tracks that she falters. It's Bedingfield's new-era pop gems that sparkle the brightest here.