Albums of the week: From Liam Gallagher to Chastity Belt
This week looks set to be a race to the top of the charts for ex-Oasis rocker Liam Gallagher and alternative rockers Keane, who are back with their first album in seven years.
LIAM GALLAGHER - WHY ME? WHY NOT
I'm not actually sure what I was expecting from this album. Remembering the angry young man from the Oasis heyday, and filled with self-righteous self belief and ego, he elevated himself above all others in his self belief.
What Liam Gallagher has done is hop straight over the famous difficult "second album curse" and created a well-rounded and mature collection of songs. From the pop heavy and rounded happy sounding anthem of reflection and bitterness Shockwave, then follows the larger than life One Of Us - a staple on Radio X since its debut, which is filled with strings and gospel-inspired backing vocals. Halo is an old school rock song, with honky-tonk piano that wouldn't be lost in an early Rolling Stones album.
Why Me? Why Not is a mix of old school 1970s rock and euphoric anthems, all with that expected Liam Gallagher swag.
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KEANE - CAUSE AND EFFECT
The alternative rockers are back with their first album in seven years, and hopes are high given their previous four records have charted at number one. Luckily for Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley and co, they've produced an album as good as its predecessors, all meaningful lyrics, powerful build ups and anthemic, melodic soft rock stylings - exactly the formula that made them such a hit in the first place but with a more anecdotal edge given the stresses and strains that come with getting older.
Rice-Oxley has penned a poignant collection of songs inspired by the end of his marriage but, while there are certainly some morose moments on the record (the mournful Strange Room about love lost, for one) it's not a completely bleak offering.
A strong effort from a group whose absence certainly left a bit of a hole in the charts.
THE LUMINEERS - III
Not since their catchy debut Ho Hey have The Lumineers bothered the upper reaches of the UK singles charts - and while this obtuse new album is unlikely to change that, it has plenty to offer.
Split into three chapters, the ambitious set and its track-by-track videos tell the story of the Sparks family - fictional characters, though the first character Gloria was inspired by a relative of singer Wesley Schultz.
The band tack on three bonus tracks, highlighted by the sprawling Democracy, though the resulting 51-minute total run time feels slightly over-long.
CHARLI XCX - CHARLI
British singer-songwriter Charli XCX's third album Charli will surprise those expecting nothing more than an average "poppy" offering, for the songstress has created a collection of 15 completely different tracks. These include 1999 featuring Troye Sivan and Gone with Christine And The Queens. In total, the album is comprised of nine featured songs out of the total 15, including collaborations with a range of artists from the American pop band Haim, to the sassy singer and rapper Lizzo, to the South Korean based electronic artist Yaeji.
Charli's music has always been known for its suitability for radio play - and definitely for dancing to at a party - but her third album has brought out another dimension to her songwriting and capability as a musician.
It has to be said that this is her best album so far, purely for her bold attempt at breaking her mould, and for getting across her meaningful message throughout.
CHASTITY BELT - CHASTITY BELT
Chastity Belt used to relish playing with the female stereotype. In public the Washington four-piece messed with interviewers who pigeonholed them as a "punk girl band" and playfully upturned gender politics in their lyrics.
Now, it seems, that waggishness has been replaced been something more sombre. It's a step into the abyss compared to their last album; 2017's envious, waspish, sometimes fearsome I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone. On their eponymous fourth, shoe-gaze is back in. The guitars are more washed out than before, and singer Julia Shapiro's voice is on especially ethereal form.
After an brief hiatus the band return with a clear head. Chastity Belt is not their best album but it might be their most clearly conceived.