Albums: new releases from Garbage, Noel Gallagher, Small Axe and Easy Life
GARBAGE – NO GODS NO MASTERS
NINETIES alt-rock band Garbage are bringing back their signature sound with a fresh, modern evolution in No Gods No Masters.
The numerology importance of their seventh album – the seven virtues, sorrows, and deadly sins – is said to have "affected the DNA of its content".
The synth-infused tracks move from a gritty feminist reckoning in The Men Who Rule The World to haunting melodies and harmonies in Waiting For God.
Edgy guitar riffs and frontwoman Shirley Manson's emotive tone deliver lyrics critiquing sexism, capitalism and racism.
Manson said: "It was our way of trying to make sense of how nuts the world is and the astounding chaos we find ourselves in."
This album would not go amiss soundtracking the social movements of the present day.
NOEL GALLAGHER'S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – BACK THE WAY WE CAME: VOL. 1
BACK The Way We Came: Vol 1 (2011-2021) features hits from Noel Gallagher's last three number one albums and EPs.
It brings back classics like the melodic dance track AKA… What A Life! and the classic/alt rock beat of In The Heat Of The Moment.
The deluxe bonus disc boasts acoustic covers and techno remixes on works like If I Had A Gun… and Blue Moon Rising.
It also features two new tracks – the melancholic We're On Our Way Now, reflecting on the loss of a friend, and the more hopeful, Motown-influenced Flying On The Ground.
Asked about why he's releasing a greatest hits album, Gallagher said: "It got to 10 years and then lockdown with nothing else going on, so it gave me something to focus on really."
Fans of Gallagher will warmly welcome new singles and revisitation of the classics but the 18-track package may leave you craving something more.
EASY LIFE – LIFE'S A BEACH
LEICESTER band Easy Life's debut album is an uplifting, immersive collection of songs likely to become your go-to this summer, combining nostalgia for the good times with a pensive streak.
The beach has seemed a long way off during the past 14 months and Easy Life capture a certain sentimental longing in their music that seems very 2021. There's reflections on mental health (Living Strange), self-help anthems (A Message To Myself) and straight bangers (Skeletons), all delivered with an ease rarely seen in fledgling bands.
Frontman Murray Matravers lets it all hang out. Of the 12 songs, not one lacks lyrical prowess and each is backed by a heady mix of electronics, swung hip-hop beats, trippy backing vocals and horns.
But these reggae and R&B-leaning indie rockersare more than the sum of their influences. There's something raw here that's hard to define – something that makes Life's A Beach one of 2021's best albums so far.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – SMALL AXE OFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK
MUSIC is an integral part of Small Axe, Steve McQueen's sweeping anthology film series documenting the black British community's joys and struggles.
Fresh from winning a clutch of prizes at the TV Baftas, it seems right that the music of Small Axe is being released in compilation form. These classic tracks, which soundtrack pivotal moments in the series, are bolstered by Mica Levi's minimal, haunting score.
Toots & The Maytals' Pressure Drop and Janet Kay's Silly Games (Lovers Rock Edit) channel the highs, while Michael Kiwanuka's cover of Nina Simone's To Be Young, Gifted And Black proves its message of empowerment remains as important today as it was in 1969.
Like the TV series, the Small Axe soundtrack charts a journey through black British experience and affirms the importance of music in both protest and celebration.