Albums: Taylor Swift, Kano, Las Aves and Serge Pizzorno
FOLLOWING Taylor Swift's annus horribilis of 2016, it's a delight to hear she is now in a great place, personally and professionally.
Lover is an example of Swift's undeniable talent as a lyricist and musical powerhouse. Sassy opening track I Forgot That You Existed is pretty much the only time Swift shows her angry side, but it's wrapped up in a peppy pop coating, her Reputation-era rage all but vanished.
There's the epic-sounding and lyrically charming love song Lover and the striking The Archer, a classic Swift synth-pop effort with a dreamy climactic build-up thanks to Jack Antonoff's hand in production.
Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince is another top tune with clever lyrical references to American high school life, and the cutesy London Boy – about Swift's adoration of the British capital thanks to her romance with boyfriend Joe Alwyn – is cheesy with its references to Brixton and Highgate, but she wears her cheesiness unashamedly and just about pulls it off.
Serge Pizzorno AKA The SLP
THE time is here, Kasabian guitarist and all-rounder Serge Pizzorno's side project The SLP has been unleashed. And oh my. This is a soundtrack and a half. It's huge. Atmospheric. Cinematic. From the opening instrumental Meanwhile... In Genova, you realise that The SLP is something special.
Favourites (featuring Little Simz) is the first single, and as far as first peeps go, this is out there. Poppy, dirty, funky, western hip-hop. It's a true melting pot of fabulousness that proves that if you were expecting a Kasabian #2 record, you won't be disappointed. You'd just be wrong.
Lockdown has a stripped back vocal, the music is huge, it swirls and aches with longing. ((trance)) picks up the pace with a bossa nova beat leading into the grimy uptempo The Wu.
Not one track is the same and all take you on a musical and emotional journey.
Hoodies All Summer
WHERE his 2016 Mercury-nominated Made In The Manor was introspective, Hoodies All Summer from London grime man Kano (AKA Kane Robinson) kicks off with a commentary of modern Britain in Good Youtes Walk Amongst Evil.
Lyrically, Kano is energetic and perceptive, delivering every line with urgency, staring you in the face with an attitude honed in countless rap battles. Gospel-tinged Trouble delves into London knife crime, launching a conversation about difficulties facing inner city youths.
Pan-Fried, featuring his fellow east Londoner Kojo Funds, brings a fiery feel-good sound that continues into Can't Hold We Down with Popcaan, which has the melancholic tone that made a hit of A Roadman's Hymn.
Legends assemble in Class Of Deja, with D Double E and Ghetts paying homage to underground radio station Deja Vu as they go back-to-back in the makings of a classic.
With a powerful 10-track album and a returning role in Top Boy next month, the end of the summer months look promising for this grime veteran.
I'll Never Give Up On Love Until I Can Put A Name On It
TOULOUSE trio Les Aves bring a little bit of rave and a lot of teen angst to the indie disco with their second album, which packs into its short half-hour running time a roller coaster ride of heightened emotions, all delivered with a deliciously French sense of irony.
The hipster equivalent of those early 1960s girl bands that sang of bad boyfriends and teenage heartbreak, Les Aves add a contemporary twist by focusing on tales of Tinder dates, text message misunderstandings and pregnancy scares. There's also a liberal sprinkling of naughty words that add to the general sense of spikiness.
An aloof sense of humour keeps things from getting too intense, with You Need A Dog in particular offering a hilariously pragmatic solution to man troubles, while musically the band disguises an obvious pop sensibility under thumping basslines and trippy electronica.