Albums: Niall Horan, Morrissey, Adam Lambert, Moaning and Roger and Brian Eno
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
IT CAN be difficult finding your place in the world – especially after being in the biggest boy band since The Beatles – but Niall Horan has taken to this task admirably.
Horan was always the dark horse of One Direction: he lacked the good looks of Harry Styles, and the confidence of Liam Payne. What he did have – and Heartbreak Weather proves this in spades – is a real musicality and even a hint of the rock and roll spirit.
Since their "indefinite hiatus" began in 2016, Horan has been working hard to dispel his reputation as The Quiet One. Where Liam Payne's solo debut LP1 failed to hit either the pop highs of his past or the supposed maturity of his present, Heartbreak Weather, Horan's second, achieves both with panache.
Black And White does a decent job replicating, if not matching, his former band's stadium-sized singalong, while Small Talk laces slick pop with a hint of grunge. There's also some pleasing acoustic numbers – Dear Patience and Still – that will keep the teenyboppers happy.
I am Not a Dog on a Chain
I DON'T want to suggest Morrissey has become a self-parody but the opening track on this new album, Jim Jim Falls, features the lyric "If you're going to kill yourself, then to save face get on with it".
The title track sees him venting at the media – "I do not read newspapers, they are troublemakers... in a civilised and careful way, they'll sculpture all your views" – while on Darling, I Hug A Pillow, the 2015 Literary Review Bad Sex In Fiction Award winner announces "everything else is in place except physical love".
In truth, die-hard fans will lap up much of the album, typical Morrissey fare with a fresh twist provided by a pronounced synth influence and the highlight of soul star Thelma Houston's backing vocals on first single Bobby, Don't You Think They Know?
However, as it progresses it becomes increasingly self-indulgent – with The Truth About Ruth and the eight-minute The Secret Of Music borderline unlistenable.
ADAM Lambert's newest album Velvet lives up to its name with smooth and luxurious tracks which are some of the singer's finest work.
Lambert's fourth studio album is a stand-out performance with 13 tracks which infuse his raw talent with soulful jazz influences.
The bouncy tracks which dominate the album are immensely enjoyable, while the slower and emotional parts add variety while remaining true to the vintage feel.
Velvet, the opening track of the album with the same name, is a powerful opener and sets the tone as Lambert expertly flirts with the jazz genre.
As well as the opening track, the bass-heavy Loverboy and stripped back Closer To You are highlights of the impressive album with something to suit any mood.
Velvet veers into darker territory towards the end, preventing it from becoming stale, before coming to an emotional climax with the tender Feel Something.
Lambert's newest album is an exceptional offering from the well-established singer
WHEN LA-based post-punk trio Moaning recorded an album "largely about dealing with the everyday anxieties of being a functioning human in the 21st century" they couldn't have known how relevant that would be by the time of its release.
Their sometimes sludgy guitar-driven 2018 debut was influenced by post-punk behemoths like Joy Division and Bauhaus, but this one is synth-led and has echoes of the Bunnymen, as well as lesser-known names from the era such as Comsat Angels.
Vocalist Sean Solomon croons "I wanna be anybody but myself, I wanna love anybody but myself" in the first single, Ego. He sings "If we fall in love I will lose you/When you get to know me you won't want me any more" in Fall In Love, and dispenses with vocals on the very short.
A fitting self-isolation soundtrack for these strange and terrible times.
Roger and Brian Eno
WHEN Brian and Roger Eno started sharing the fragments that birthed their first album as a duo, little could they have known the end result would, 15 years later, reach us exactly when we needed it most.
Mixing Colours is an ambient exploration of space and sonic textures. In parts, otherworldly synths bring to mind Angelo Badalamenti's ethereal Twin Peaks soundtrack, while in others an echoey, pure piano is more reminiscent of the minimalism of Max Richter.
In tandem, the brothers – whose recent endeavours have been largely in classical (Roger) and electronic (Brian) composition – create a quilt of sound that cocoons the listener from the chaos outside.
"The more you listen to this album, particularly with the fabulous worlds that Brian has created, you can really walk into its enormous landscape and stay," says Roger of the record.
They may not have planned it this way, but the Enos may just have provided the perfect antidote for our anxious times.