Album Reviews: Beyonce makes you feel strong

Beyonce performing at the NFL Super Bowl earlier this year



THE thing about Beyonce is that she makes you feel strong. Whether it's through her videos, her clothes, her instagram, her music – she manages to transmit an all-consuming mightiness that drugs you on beauty, talent, hard graft and the blazing spectacle of what she is capable of.

Lemonade, the surprise 'visual' album she dropped on Saturday night exposes her more sinuously than ever before. She scrimps on nothing: not honesty, pain or rage, opening with Pray You Catch Me, a track that swims with accusation.

There's almost a viciousness to Lemonade at times – particularly the shrieking, gravelly Don't Hurt Yourself featuring Jack White. Love Drought is a languid low point, but Freedom anthemically stomps.

Forward is a beautiful, softly furled snapshot of a song that ought to be extended into a 20-minute swamp of fizzing base and whispered lyrics. Magnificent.


Ella Walker

Katy B


IF THERE'S one artist you should be tuning into in 2016, it's Katy B. She's back at it again six years since her smash hit of a debut, On A Mission, and 2014's Little Red, with her unique mix of dance and pop, although this time she's brought a plethora of big-name artists along with her on collaborative-heavy album, Honey.

Each track features contributions from a different helping hand, from KAYTRANADA on glittering opening track Honey, to Geeneus and Novelist closing the album on Honey (Outro).

Contributions from Four Tet and Floating Points can be heard on silky club-tastic number Calm Down, while the prince of garage himself, Craig David, teams up with Major Lazer on Who Am I. While Honey might not be the most cohesive album, it's a minor flaw to forgive in exchange for a set of excellent tracks.


Claire Hubble

Brian Eno

The Ship

WORDS like 'musical genius' can be thrown around too easily, but Brian Eno remains one of the few who can get away that label. The Ship isn't the most listener-friendly album and it'd be easy to dismiss its mix of low atonal sounds, slow repetition and mystifying lyrics as pretentiousness, but if you let its 20-minute long songs in, it's transformational.

The lyrics are weak, trying a bit too hard to be poetic, but in ways hard to pinpoint, it gets in. You do feel like you've been on a journey come the end. Plus, after slogging through some weird, but beautiful 40-odd minutes, Eno pulls out an amazingly radio-friendly pop song in Fickle Sun (iii).

Maybe Eno's not a genius, but on The Ship he shows a justified and enjoyable confidence in his ability to make great, if odd, music.


Tobias Chapple

Kyle Craft

Dolls of Highland

AMERICAN singer-songwriter Kyle Craft clearly fancies himself as the next Bob Dylan, but Dolls Of Highland, his first album for trendy record label, Sub Pop, is certainly not the next Blood On The Tracks.

Craft's vocal style is a bit like Marmite, you will either love it or hate it, but the mannered style of his delivery begins to jar over the course of 12 tracks. That is not to say Craft is without talent, although anyone looking for something a bit different from the plethora of alt country/Americana shtick that has been pedalled so successfully over the past decade or two is in for a disappointment.

The best song is the lovely and plaintively sung Lady Of The Ark, while opening track Eye Of A Hurricane finds the listener reaching for the repeat button. But far too many songs meander without purpose.


Kim Mayo

Rufus Wainwright

Take All My Loves: 9 Shakespeare Sonnets

As well as an extensive back catalogue of studio albums, Rufus Wainwright has an opera (Prima Donna) to his name – and another in the pipeline – so Take All My Loves, released to coincide with the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death, isn't his first foray into theatrical music.

A variety of thesps lend their voices, including Carrie Fisher, Helena Bonham Carter and William Shatner, while the music world is represented by the likes of Florence Welch and Wainwright's singer-songwriter sister, Martha.

Taking in eras ranging from Romantic to New Romantic; from Classical Baroque to classic rock, Take All My Loves certainly has something for everyone: if there's a criticism, it's that the rockier offerings – Unperfect Actor (Sonnet 23) springs to mind – seem incongruous amidst such divine classical symphonies.


Rob Lavender


Spiritual Songs for Lovers to Sing

PREVIOUSLY of enigmatic indie saviours WU LYF, Ellery James Roberts and girlfriend Ebony Hoorn return under the guise of a new acronym (LUH stands for Lost Under Heaven) with a dozen new songs that, while not exactly spiritual, are certainly spirited.

Most of them consist of heavy drums, atonal synths and Roberts'S gravel-throated shouting, which at first is quite arresting, but quickly becomes a little samey. When the cacophony calms down, however, and especially when the less hysterical Hoorn takes over on vocals, the tracks have an appealingly mesmeric quality: Future Blues and Loyalty in particular offer a welcome oasis of subtlety amidst the mayhem.

It's all a bit overwrought and monotonous to merit a concentrated listen, although left in the background it could make ideal driving music for romantics prone to road rage.


James Robinson

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