Arts

Music Reviews: Florence's dramatic third album

Florence and The Machine: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

Florence and the Machine

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

FLORENCE Welch has one of those voices like Cher or Madonna  you just know it as soon as you hear it. And if it could be summed up in one word? Drama. It's that dramatic impact and sense of occasion that helped the band's previous tracks, such as Dog Days Are Over, make an instant and lasting impression. And they've done it again.

Ship To Wreck has hit written all over it, while the title track could be a theme tune to the latest Hollywood blockbuster. And just try not to bop your head to Queen Of Peace  you can easily imagine festival crowds pulsing in waves to its beat.

Delilah feels very much in keeping with the band's typical sound and begs you to sing along. Long And Lost brings calm with its soothing yet catchy chorus, and Third Eye strikes a retro feel. There's variety  but it's the same great music Welch and her band are known for.

FOUR STARS

Catherine Wylie

Slaves

AreYou Satisfied?

LAURIE Vincent and Isaac Holman, aka Slaves, have to be the angriest duo to ever hail from Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone. Listening to their lairy 'chav rock' is like being mugged to music, with singing drummer Holman screaming his disappointment at the apathy of those around him. Backed by Vincent's primal guitar riffs, the pair make quite a noise.

The Hunter and Sockets are abrasive anthems you can't help but jump around to, Do Something and Cheer Up London are storming calls to arms, sonic hand grenades that pull the pin on the passivity of the materialistic younger generation. The anger is leavened with plenty of lurid humour in the vein of Sleaford Mods.

Feed The Mantaray, which includes the hilariously brainless couplet, "The walls are paper thin/ You know I really hate you Tim", is as thrilling as it is silly. The pair only step off the gas once, on the acoustic title track (with Holman sounding like Jamie T with tonsillitis), which has a lovable naivety which permeates the whole album. They're nice boys, really.

THREE STARS

Mark Edwards

The Darkness

Last of Our Kind

HAVING Imploded after their meteoric rise to fame in the early 2000s, Suffolk quartet The Darkness eventually got their act back together to reform for another go. Shaking off the 2005 lemon that was One Way Ticket To Hell... And Back, the group had modest success with Hot Cakes in 2012 and now, here is their latest platter.

Frontman Justin Hawkins's trademark falsetto is still in evidence although the vocals do seem a bit low in the album's mix. This is especially evident in the heavier numbers such as the opener Barbarian and the title track.

The influence of Queen and AC/DC is still there, but in a positive way. They haven't lost the ability to write hook-laden songs either, and Sarah O'Sarah would make a great single. This album thunders along at a good pace and deserves to be heard blasting out across a festival field  catsuit compulsory.

FOUR STARS

Steve Grantham

Major Lazer

Peace is the Mission

AMERICAN DJ and producer Diplo  real name Thomas Wesley Pentz  returns with his third album under the Major Lazer moniker again boasting an extensive list of collaborations on this collection of reggae and dancehall-infused dance bangers.

But while the likes of Ellie Goulding and Ariana Grande almost guarantee chart success, there is nothing here that matches the genre-bending and often brilliant collaborations on the 2013 breakthrough Free The Universe.

Instead, Peace Is The Mission is a fairly predictable but still danceable effort with chart-topper Lean On and the bombastic Too Original providing some of the best moments. Longer-term fans hoping for a little more inventiveness may be disappointed, but those looking for a clever and grandiose fix of summery dance tunes will find plenty to love here.

THREE STARS

Arj Singh

Melody Gardot

Currency of Man

THE fourth album by American singer-songwriter Melody Gardot is a brimful of heartfelt jazz and blues, simply oozing class. The moody and atmospheric opener It Gonna Come flows into the more direct and raw Preacherman.

Same To You rises with rich horn accompaniment, whereas the more reflective Don't Misunderstand is a mix of ethereal strings, punctuated by church organ chops. Other highlights include Don't Talk, She Don't Know and the simply stunning closing track, Once I Was Loved.

The record is sometimes brooding, often subtly edgy, but never anything less than totally engaging.

FOUR STARS

Mike Fletcher

Collabro

Act Two

RIDING on the wave of Britain's Got Talent, which saw Jules O'Dwyer and her border collie Matisse crowned the 2015 champions, 2014 winners Collabro offer their second album.

The musical theatre quintet, consisting of Michael Auger, Richard Hadfield, Jamie Lambert, Matt Pagan and Thomas J Redgrave, put their spin on songs featured in films and musicals including the Friends theme I'll Be There For You, Music Of The Night from Phantom Of The Opera, I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables and The Circle Of Life from The Lion King.

They also give their rendition of popular pop tunes such as Kodaline's All I Want (featured on The Fault In Our Stars soundtrack), Christina Perri's A Thousand Years from The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn  Part 1 and Jason Mraz's I Won't Give Up. Fans of the group will be glad their formula hasn't changed  if it ain't broke, why fix it?

THREE STARS

Shereen Low

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