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Album reviews: From Imelda May to Dinosaur Jr


Alfa Mist's latest album

Alfa Mist's latest album

Press Association Images

Alfa Mist's latest album

Alfa Mist

Bring Backs

He might seem a perfect fit for London's thriving modern jazz scene, but in truth Alfa Mist came up through a different route.

Far from being made in the music academy mould, the East Ham rapper-producer first found his sound through sampling heroes like J Dilla and Madlib in his bedroom, and that sense of eclecticism is clearly still there today.

His latest LP, Bring Backs, is in part a reflection on the instability of that childhood, and the underlying fear that the floor built beneath could disappear at any time.

Fortunately complacency doesn't appear to be in Alfa's vocabulary.

The record's outstanding lead single Run Outs features an unrelenting groove over an infectious key refrain, with obvious throughlines to contemporaries such as Kamaal Williams, Tom Misch and Joe Armon-Jones.

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Elsewhere, though, the tone shifts without ever jarring the senses.

The folkish People, with vocals from Kaya Thomas-Dyke, bears closer similarity to Nick Drake or even more recent Radiohead, while the seven-minute Attune is a beautiful, sprawling Pharoah Sanders-esque wig-out just made for a sunny summer evening.

7/10, review by Stephen Jones

Dinosaur Jr

Sweep It Into Space

Grunge kings Dinosaur Jr return with their first new music in five years, somehow instantly identifiable, despite the basic guitar, bass, drums, power trio line-up.

Part of this is due to J Mascis, whose trademark drawling vocals mixed low against the raging guitars have been recognisable for nearly 40 years now.

Produced by Kurt Vile and with the original line-up of Lou Barlow (bass) and Murph (drums), Sweep It Into Space is their strongest album in decades.

Opener I Ain't sounds both timeless and contemporary, the cosmic I Met The Stones starts with a classic hard rock riff, and the urgent Hide Another Round and propulsive N Say both surf an adrenaline rush.

Dinosaur Jr dial it down as well, as in first single I Ran Away, with its jangling West Coast sheen, although there's still room for a blistering guitar solo. Garden and You Wonder, both written and sung by Sebadoh and The Folk Implosion frontman Barlow, provide a different side of Dinosaur Jr. adding 1960s influences.

To Be Waiting and Take It Back are also more acoustic, but however breakneck the pace, Dinosaur Jr always smuggle in earworm melodies, half-buried in the sound and fury.

9/10, review by Matthew George

Enter Shikari

Moratorium (Broadcasts from the Interruption)

Enter Shikari released their sixth album, Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible, in April last year, just as coronavirus was taking hold.

Since then they have kept themselves busy and, one year to the day, have surprised fans with a companion piece titled, somewhat literally, Moratorium.

It compiles the best of the various home studio sessions and acoustic performances released through their social media, remixed by frontman Rou Reynolds for public consumption.

Moratorium combines heavier rock fare, such as Rat Race, and reimaginings, such as a delightful acoustic version of Stop The Clocks, which in its original form was a ravey, bubblegum anthem (the album also includes a more faithful "at home" version).

Particularly impressive is a charming cover of David Bowie's Heroes that brings all of the mystery and playfulness out of the lyrics.

More than ever, Enter Shikari show of their love of grandiloquent language - Reynolds' lyrics tackle utopian societies, malevolent dictators and fallen kings.

7/10, review by Alex Green

Imelda May

11 Past The Hour

The Dublin singer displays the range and depth of her vocal talent on this sixth studio album, on which she co-wrote every song and co-produced all but three.

The breathy opening title track has a surprising Nick-Cave-and-Kylie-Minogue air about it while Made To Love carries strong Neko Case vibes. A couple of the more sedate numbers, Different Kinds Of Love and Diamonds, drag somewhat but the album is back to its best with What We Did In The Dark, the closest to the rockier style of May's breakthrough album Love Tattoo but heavier and sultrier.

Miles Kane features on that song, while Ronnie Wood and Noel Gallagher are among the other names adding star power, uniting on stand-out single Just One Kiss.

Never Look Back is a storming closer to an enjoyable if slightly patchy set.

7/10, review by Tom White

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