Arts

Album reviews: Bjork, Noel Gallagher and Anton Du Beke

Bjork is back with her new album, Utopia

BJORK – UTOPIA

IT'S been two years since Bjork released her heartbreak album Vulnicura to critical acclaim, and her follow-up Utopia is equally sure to win over hearts, broken or otherwise.

In a reversal of tone, Utopia re-appropriates Vulnicura's imagery of closing wounds for a powerful declaration of renewed openness to the world.

Bjork offers a mission statement of sorts in Loss, saying, "How we make up for [loss] defines who we are," and in Utopia she offers tools of recovery in repetitions of her former expressions of sexuality and agoraphilia.

This combination of retrospection and optimism is the truest triumph of Utopia, and it acts as a synthesis of Bjork's eclectic musical history. From the pastoral flutes in the title track, which seem to hark back to Biophilia, to the feral passions of Body Memory, reminiscent of the enigmatically primal Submarine, the Icelandic star presents a consolidation of her life's work in Utopia that is both familiar and groundbreaking, sensitive and blunt, and which demonstrates a complete command of the wide array of instruments and talents at her disposal.

Rating: 4 stars

NOEL GALLAGHER'S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – WHO BUILT THE MOON?

A popular theory has it that culture operates on a 20-year repetitive cycle and, with Sleeper and Shed Seven hoiking their mid-table Britpop wares on the road recently, that rings true.

Noel Gallagher's Oasis annihilated sales records in late 1997 with their LP Be Here Now, as his beloved Manchester City were free-falling towards the third division.

Two decades later, City are English football's stylish standard-bearers and Gallagher has sunk a division or two from rock's Premier League since a brutal burning of brotherly bridges.

On Who Built The Moon?, Noel and his High Flying Birds launch with Fort Knox, a hotpot of swirling Mancunian melody and everyman "Got to get yourself together" chanting.

The single Holy Mountain bears glam-rock charm, She Taught Me How To Fly might have been touched by the hand of Hooky, and Gallagher strives throughout to present a playful, inventive self.

David Holmes twiddles the knobs, Paul Weller and Johnny Marr make obligatory cameos, and the end product is not nearly as 'faded 1990s rockstar' as seemed inevitable.

3 stars

ANTON DU BEKE - FROM THE TOP

Nobody ever expected to utter these words, not in a million years – but Anton Du Beke's cover of an Arctic Monkeys classic is pretty darn good.

The Strictly stalwart's old school swing, big band cover of the indie group's I Bet You Look Good on The Dancefloor is one of the highlights on his startlingly refreshing debut album, From The Top. Think Hit The Road Jack meets Sheffield, with a little bit of Strictly stardust scattered over it.

Music snobs may roll their eyes, but Du Beke nimbly manages to inject his fun character into decade-spanning hits, proving that he really is a modern version of his idol and former co-star, the late Sir Bruce Forsyth.

It's true there is nothing ground-breaking here. Du Beke has a pleasant show tune-friendly voice and most of his song choices – from Fly Me To The Moon and Me And My Shadow – are as predictable as one might expect.

But with Grammy-winning producer Brian Rawling and vocal quintet The Overtones on board, Du Beke's jolly jaunt of a record might just earn him his own niche away from his TV-turned-music star contemporaries, such as Bradley Walsh and Nick Knowles.

4 stars

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