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Album reviews: From Sir Ringo Starr to The Antlers

Justin Bieber and Lana Del Rey deliver the biggest albums of the week

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Justin Bieber's latest album

Justin Bieber's latest album

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Justin Bieber's latest album

Justin Bieber and Lana Del Rey deliver the biggest albums of the week.

Justin Bieber

Justice

Bieber is back with an album combining his two favourite themes - his love for model wife Hailey and his transformation from troubled teen star to reformed empath.

But it seems he thinks his music is more profound than it is.

The 27-year-old's attempts to imbue his songs with deeper meaning through Martin Luther King samples and allusions to a greater purpose and, of course, a higher justice, fall a little short.

There are highs and lows. Forgettable fodder like Hold On could have be pruned from this 16-track behemoth.

Unstable and Off My Face use clumsy metaphors but are rock solid pop songs.

But the Biebs is at his best when he is his most experimental, if you can call it that.

Justice ranks somewhere between the highs of Purpose and the disappointing homogeneity of last year's Changes.

Either way you look at it, it's a move in the right direction.

7/10, review by Alex Green

Lana Del Rey

Chemtrails over the Country Club

It's likely you are already familiar with the central themes of Lana Del Rey's latest album.

The American songstress has been mining ideas of doomed youth, troubled love and the price of fame for six albums now, but with increasingly powerful results.

2019's Norman F****** Rockwell! was a career high that alchemised those ideas perfectly, but the songwriting here is not as consistent.

Long-standing collaborator Jack Antonoff facilitates her vision with gossamer 12-string acoustic guitar on the title track and dense but quiet percussion on the enticing if overlong Tulsa Jesus Freak.

Things tail off before closing on a high note with a one-two punch. On Dance Till We Die, Del Rey sings "I'm covering Joni," shortly before doing just that with a version of Mitchell's For Free.

The folk heroine's 1970 song reflects on a busker who plays "so good" for free and herself - who plays literally "for fortunes".

But now she recruits Zella Day and Weyes Blood and finds solidarity is female musicianship.

7/10, review by Alex Green

Sir Ringo Starr

Zoom In

An EP seems a curious choice for such an established act, but Zoom In makes a nice little package for the famously unambitious drummer of the greatest band on Earth.

Starr's voice has a charming, rough-edged quality on Here's To The Nights, though the little help he has from his friends (who include Sheryl Crow and Sir Paul McCartney) fails to add much to the syrupy ballad.

He channels the cheeky jauntiness of Madness in Not Enough Love In The World, a song that will please fans of his minimalist drumming style.

It's probably saying something that the most interesting track is Waiting For The Tide To Turn, a swampy reggae number that hits some of the right notes.

6/10, review by Rachel Farrow

The Antlers

Green to Gold

As the days grow longer and sunnier, The Antlers provide the soundtrack to the better times ahead with their luminous sixth studio album, Green To Gold.

The cover shows golden sunlight and a silhouetted tree, and instrumental opener Strawflower starts with some nine seconds of silence, before reverb, then a drum beat, and acoustic guitar.

Another instrumental, Equinox, fading into silence, closes the album, and these two tracks act as bookends for a celebration of the seasons, and how nature makes change look easy.

Band leader Peter Silberman sings "This is the first day our friend is free from pain, voyaging on, while the rest of us remain" in It Is With It Is, accepting the inevitability of change.

Since the band's last album, 2014's Familiars, Silberman has needed surgery to remove lesions on his vocal cords and suffered hearing problems that forced him to leave the cacophony of Brooklyn and move to a quiet hamlet in upstate New York.

There he worked with longtime drummer Michael ß to make his sunniest album yet, with the gentle vocals and acoustic guitars supplemented by piano, strings and bass saxophone.

With Green To Gold, Silberman finally sounds at peace with himself and has created a low-key triumph that is his best album since Hospice.

8/10, review by Matthew George

Belfast Telegraph


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