Album reviews: Alamort by Ducking Punches, MGMT's Little Dark Age
ORIGINALLY the solo project of singer/guitarist Dan Allen, this is Norwich alt-rock group Ducking Punches's fourth studio album and it's less folk rock and more old-school emo with perhaps a tinge of hardcore this time around. The title Alamort is apparently an archaic term for being "half dead from exhaustion"; an idea that sets the tone for many of the tracks on the album. Highlight tracks are Distant Shadows, which draws you in with a haunting quality and requires multiple listens, and Sobriety, which deals with addictive personalities and associated struggles. This record has some (good) similarities with London melancholic punk band Apologies, I Have None. If you like alternative rock and heartfelt lyrics but without a saccharine delivery then this could be a record worth checking out.
Little Dark Age
WITH a elaborate coating of jazz chords and funky bass, MGMT announce their return – and possible revival – on opening track She Works Out Too Much. After arriving with what became two of the Noughties' biggest tracks, Kids and Time To Pretend, in 2008, the duo of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser failed to capitalise on their next two records. But here they rediscover their ability to write pop hooks, from the synth-heavy When You Die to the 80s celebration that is Me And Michael. From a band who always appeared uneasy with their pop credentials this is a wecome return which maintains their darker underbelly – gloriously tinged with acid.
IT HAS been nine long years since we had a release from electroclash super duo Fischerspooner. Ex-REM singer Michael Stipe is credited with producing and co-writing the album. The first three-quarters of the album is more Depeche Mode than David Gahan and Martin Gore have been for a while. Sir is an exploration of middle-aged life as a gay man, all the hopes and regrets of a life not led and dreams not followed. It is a dark blend of melancholy wrapped up in a dirty 80s electro pop parcel. For the dark lyrics there is hope flickering through the balladesque Oh Rio (featuring Holly Miranda), and Try Again ft. Andy LeMaster is reminiscent of a slowed down Hot Chip mashed with an ambient dawn vibe. Fischerspooner have stayed true to what they were about in the late 90s, but have moved forwards lyrically and with more musicality.
Last Night All My Dreams Came True
WILD Beasts offer a powerful swan song in the form of farewell live album Last Night All My Dreams Came True. Sultry as ever, and with artful precision, the Cumbrian band dodge the usual live album pitfalls with an intimate atmosphere that takes the listener on a tour of the band's highlights from their five studio albums. Though Wild Beasts retain their brooding intensity, magnified by Hayden Thorpe's ever-nimble falsetto, there is a certain atmosphere absent from the compilation. A band noted for purposeful eccentricity, to the point of musical misanthropy, Last Night All My Dreams Came True is their least surprising album. They play together magnificently, and even old favourites like Hooting and Howling feel fresh, but this release doesn't manage the familiar thrill of feeling purposefully wrong-footed. Though a band that will be missed, it seems Wild Beasts are splitting for all the right reasons.
Belle & Sebastian: How To Solve Our Human Problems – Part 3
IN RELEASING a series of three consecutive EPs, Belle and Sebastian hark back more than 20 years to their 90s heyday, specifically 1997's Dog On Wheels, Lazy Line Painter Jane and 3.. 6.. 9 Seconds of Light. Critics might say their signature sound hasn't changed much since then, but nor has their ability to charm. The third in the How To Solve Our Human Problems series starts in great style with Poor Boy – a fuzzy disco anthem with a very good wandering funk bassline and very bad attitude. Try to resist nodding your head and you'll most definitely fail. Then there's the following track, Everything Is Now, which is a soaring pop number heavy with lush 70s organ and Scott Walker-esque orchestration. From there things do, sadly, get slightly pedestrian but grab a bottle of wine, clear your living room floor and stick these EPs end-to-end and you'll have far worse nights, that's for sure.