Albums: Liam Gallagher, Keane, Charli XCX, Chastity Belt
Why me? Why not
LIAM Gallagher has hopped straight over the famous 'difficult second album' curse and created a well-rounded and mature collection of songs. From the pop heavy and rounded happy sounding anthem of reflection and bitterness Shockwave, then follows the larger than life One Of Us – a staple on Radio X since its debut, which is filled with strings and gospel-inspired backing vocals. Halo is an old-school rock song, with honky-tonk piano that wouldn't be lost in an early Rolling Stones album.
Be Still and Alright Now are laid back songs, filled with recollections and gentle riffs, with the softer side of Gallagher's performance range. The River is another anthem waiting to happen with its epic backing track, layered guitars and euphoric builds to the bridge before the 70s prog-rock kicks in.
Why Me? Why Not is a mix of old school 1970s rock and euphoric anthems, all with that expected Liam Gallagher swagger.
Cause and Effect
KEANE are back with their first album in seven years. Luckily for Tom Chaplin, Tim Rice-Oxley and co, they've produced an album as good as its four chart-topping predecessors.
Rice-Oxley has penned a poignant collection of songs inspired by the end of his marriage but, while there are certainly some morose moments on the record (the mournful Strange Room about love lost, for one) it's not a completely bleak offering.
Lead singles The Way I Feel and Love Too Much are upbeat, friendly and familiar. The quite fun and contemporary Stupid Things is a tale of regret that starts quietly before building into that typical Keane, all-guns-blazing euphoria. I'm Not Leaving is a punchy effort with the mildest (and unexpected) Linkin Park-vibe, and album closer I Need Your Love is big, bold and brilliant.
BRITISH singer-songwriter Charli XCX has created a collection of 15 completely different tracks for her third album. These include 1999 featuring Troye Sivan and Gone with Christine And The Queens. Nine of its 15 songs are 'featuring' affairs, including collaborations with American pop band Haim, rapper Lizzo and South Korean electronic artist Yaeji.
Charli's third album has brought out another dimension to her songwriting and capability as a musician, as heard in the song White Mercedes, a slower track with themes of love, more so than her usual work. In fact, the whole album is purely based around the idea of love, boys and break-ups, and there is real depth in the passionate way she delivers her lyrics.
However, at times that Charli has mixed too much into this album. For example, in Shake It she experiments with getting many different artists involved, but unfortunately they all clash. But this is her best album so far –mould breaking and meaningful throughout.
CHASTITY Belt used to relish playing with the female stereotype. In public the Washington four-piece messed with interviewers who pigeonholed them as a "punk girl band" and playfully upturned gender politics in their lyrics.
Now, it seems, that waggishness has been replaced been something more sombre. It's a step into the abyss compared to their last album; 2017's envious, waspish, sometimes fearsome I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone. On their eponymous fourth, shoegaze is back in. The guitars are more washed out than before and singer Julia Shapiro's voice is on especially ethereal form.
After an brief hiatus the band return with a clear head – "weeding out the parts of being in a band that feel like obligation and sticking to things that feel like a true expression of us", they've said – and that shows in the music. Chastity Belt isn't their best album, but it might be their most clearly conceived.