Albums: Coldplay, Beck, Bing Crosby and Souleyman
BECK has left his run for 2019's 'album of the year' round-ups a little late – but Hyperspace has been worth the wait.
Opener, Hyperlife – just 97 seconds long – sounds like a prog rock Beach Boys and leaves you wanting more. Uneventful Days is probably not the more you want, though. It sounds too much like its co-writer Pharrell Williams and not enough like Beck.
Things get back on track with Saw Lightning, another Williams co-write which sounds like something Beck could have released a quarter of a century ago, circa Loser. And that's a good thing.
Die Waiting, the album's first song not to feature Williams, has the feel of latter day U2, suggesting Beck was sticking around for the main act and taking notes when he supported them in 2017. Stratosphere is the only track written solely by Hansen, but the guitar playing on it by regular foil Jason Falkner lifts it into, well, the stratosphere.
COLDPLAY'S latest release Everyday Life is a subdued and moody affair. The 16-track double album is remindful of 2005's X&Y rather than the exuberant A Head Full Of Dreams.
The overtly electronic Church is the new album's stand-out. Chris Martin's atmospheric vocals and a stirringly beautiful Arabic verse sees romance entwined with religion. Faith is a recurrent theme – Martin going back and forth with a gospel choir in Broken – but the album also delves into social and political unrest with the songs Guns and Daddy.
Trouble In Town samples a recording which raises racial profiling and police brutality in the US. It is stark and intentionally uncomfortable, pushing Coldplay into their most political space yet.
Not every experiment works – WOTW / POTP, for example – but overall a success for one of the biggest bands in the world.
Bing at Christmas
ASTOUNDINGLY, Bing Crosby's White Christmas – the world's best-selling single – has never hit the top of the UK charts.
Bing At Christmas is a magical remastering taking the best recordings in the Decca archives and mixing them with the outstanding arrangements performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
This isn't just the late entertainer, though; there is the famous duet with David Bowie which he recorded just one month before his death in 1977. There are also couplings with Pentatonix on White Christmas, The Tenors on The Christmas Song and The Puppini Sisters join in on Twelve Days Of Christmas.
There is nothing surprising or shocking about this album, but let's be honest, that isn't what you want when wrapping your Christmas presents with a glass of mulled wine.
AS FAR as crossover artists go, Omar Souleyman may well be king. Syrian wedding singer-turned-international dance music darling, Souleyman has worked with artists including Caribou and Bjork.
He emerged in 2013 with his Four Tet-produced debut Wenu Wenu. Though he has lived in Turkey since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Souleyman's music has taken him across the globe – and gifted him an international take on dance music.
Shlon, Arabic for "how" or literally "which colour", is a more streamlined affair than Wenu Wenu. A melange of electro and EDM is glued together by his beloved dabke, the rollicking Levantine folk music Souleyman played at weddings.
For better or worse, there is little variation in the high-energy celebratory mood over Shlon's six tracks, as Souleyman sings love poetry written by his longtime collaborator Moussa Al Mardood.
These songs are perhaps his most dense and colourful so far – they are certainly the most joyful.