Album reviews: Beyonce, The Cranberries, Marina and Bear's Den
Beyonce - Homecoming: The Live Album
THIS nearly two-hour long live album from Beyonce captures the singer-songwriter's groundbreaking 2018 Coachella performance: a conceptual show painstakingly crafted over an eight-month period, it was inspired by America's historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and saw 'Queen B' joined on stage by more than 200 dancers and musicians.
In terms of the music itself, Beyonce revisited her extensive back catalogue and breathed new life into it. The nuances that come with a live performance are outstanding, particularly on Formation, Bow Down, I Care and Deja Vu, thanks to the additions of the orchestra, the intoxicating drum beats, the brass band and clever combining of songs and sounds and special effects.
Beyonce was the first black woman to ever headline Coachella, but boy, she was well and truly worth the wait.
Rating: 4 stars
The Cranberries - In The End
THE Irish indie favourites took their time to process the death of singer Dolores O'Riordan before proceeding with an emotional farewell album that serves as a fitting legacy.
The remaining band members have confirmed this will be the final Cranberries album, with guitarist Noel Hogan telling the Guardian in September: "There is no need to continue."
Appropriately, the late O'Riordan's vocals – supplemented where needed by the band's touring backing singer Johanna Cranitch – are the focal point here. The album title, shared by its closing track, has an obvious poignancy, mirrored by the opening trio of All Over Now, Lost and Wake Me When It's Over.
The latter pair are two of the stand-out tracks on a slightly inconsistent album illuminated by moments of O'Riordan and the band at their finest, with Catch Me If You Can and Got It also shining through.
Rating: 3 stars
Bear's Den - So That You Might Hear Me
BEAR'S Den hit the brakes from their non-stop touring schedule to focus on their third album, So That You Might Hear Me, allowing some time for creative reflection and development in the comfort of a north London studio.
Kevin Jones and Andrew Davie have retained much of the sound that made their debut and sophomore records so wonderfully distinct with banjo and electronic accompaniment, though each new track is soaked in themes of familial love, acceptance and the inability to reach out to what is no longer there.
It's orchestral, atmospheric and hauntingly relatable, particularly in songs Crow and Fuel On The Fire.
Rating: 3 stars
Marina - Love + Fear
MARINA And The Diamonds AKA Marina Diamandis, is back – but not as you knew her. Inspired by the theories of psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the 16-track album from the newly mononymous Marina is split into two halves representing 'Love' and 'Fear'. Opener Handmade Heaven is a soaring success, while catchy dance track True is the Welsh singer at her best.
The album's second chapter is more melancholic than the first, looking at unrequited love and other heartache. Fear opens with Believe In Love, showcasing the pop star's vocal ability, tongue-in-cheek No More Suckers will have you humming along and cinematic ballad Soft To Be Strong brings the album to an emotional close.
Four years on from her last album, it feels like Diamandis knows exactly what she wants to say and how she wants to sound. Love + Fear has been well worth the wait.
Rating: 4 stars