Arts

Album reviews: new records by Kylie, Eels, the Manics and Hinds rated

Kylie Minogue's new album Golden finds her exploring country sounds

KYLIE MINOGUE – GOLDEN

KYLIE'S enduring appeal inspires devotion in her fans. As she approaches 50, her golden year, she begins afresh with a change of label with this, her 14th studio album.

Recorded in Nashville, there is a country sheen and a touch of the Dolly Partons, but this collection is quintessentially Kylie.

Lead single Dancing opens the album and has proved to be a grower, its subject matter a reflection on enjoying life while you can. The album continues with much whooping and stomping beats, but this is also a very personal effort,

Kylie co-wrote each track, and there are songs that nod to her break-up last year. Radio On is a late-night musing on heartache and the beautiful Music's Too Sad Without You, a duet with Jack Savoretti, is possibly the best ballad the Australian pop star has ever recorded.

Kylie proves she still has the Midas touch with an album packed with heart, soul and glitter on its cowboy boots.

Rating: 4 stars

MANIC STREET PREACHERS – RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

THE Welsh band have come storming back on to the scene with an impressively eclectic 13th studio album. Their decision to provide a collection of songs that feels almost a summation of their work so far is both the album's biggest strength and its most pointed weakness.

They're unlikely to draw in many new fans with tracks such as Liverpool Revisited and People Give In, with their bold bravado and 1990s theatrics. But this doesn't seem to be the band's aim, and long-standing fans should feel they have their expectations satisfied, even if the stadium-rock aesthetic seems a slightly stale safe bet.

But just as some of their more suspect album-filler tracks feel a little dated, the stand-out tracks feel as strong as some of Manic Street Preacher's most recognisable hits.

Dylan & Caitlin is foremost among them; a duet with Welsh multi-instrumentalist The Anchoress, the song is extremely listenable, and an interesting spin on the relationship between Dylan and Caitlin Thomas, two of Wales' most proud figures.

The Manics aren't breaking the mould with Resistance Is Futile, but on the strength of their songwriting, they won't have to.

Rating: 4 stars

EELS – THE DECONSTRUCTION

ALTERNATIVE oddities Eels are back with a highly anticipated new album – their first in four years – ahead of their European tour this summer.

Fans of the soothing vocals of singer-songwriter Mark Oliver Everett, who formed the band back in 1995, won't be disappointed with this eclectic mix of songs.

Title track The Deconstruction will grab your attention slowly but surely, building from atmospheric strings and guitar to a funkier rhythm and some catchy lyrics.

Premonition stand outs for its soulful, acoustic sounds, really showing off Everett's lyrics. There are some surprisingly upbeat tracks too: take Today Is The Day, which pops with a sudden tempo change and more optimistic tone.

But it's the beautiful use of string arrangements throughout – especially notable on In Our Cathedral, where it fits perfectly with the more melancholy tones many associate Everett with – that are really memorable.

Rating: 4 stars

HINDS – I DON'T RUN

THERE'S a lot of youthful exuberance to Madrid four-piece Hinds' chaotic second album. Every song is packed with spindly riffs and shouty vocals that recall the snotty early records of Weezer and the Strokes.

Unlike those obvious influences, however, there's a cheerful innocence to the songs. Although grungy anthem Tester touches on the thorny subject of sex, for the most part there's an emphasis on the childlike, with deliberately off-key vocals and lyrics that recall playground slogans, such as "I hate your guts!" on Soberland.

A couple of quieter, lo-fi songs apparently recorded in a garden (complete with birdsong) offer a little respite. The stripped down, acoustic number Ma Nuit in particular (the only song to feature lyrics in Spanish) suggests that the band might mature in an interesting direction, but right now listening to them is a bit like supervising a children's party: fun at first but exhausting after a while.

Rating: 3 stars

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