Albums: new music from Dave, Prince, Anne-Marie and Alan Vega
DAVE – WE'RE ALL ALONE IN THIS TOGETHER
WE'RE All Alone In This Together proves Dave has an illustrious career ahead of him.
After his first album, Psychodrama, charted at number one, the level of quality on his second is equally matched.
This album looks at the Brit Award-winning rapper's upbringing and environment and is filled with smooth storytelling of substance. Regular listeners will know his work exhibits lyrical excellence.
This 12-track album draws on drill, Afrobeats, gospel, electronica and R&B, and features headline names like Stormzy, James Blake and Nigerian superstar Wizkid.
The 23-year-old shares wisdom that makes it hard to believe he is so young. We're All Alone In This Together positions Dave as a voice of a new generation. As his career continues to develop, expect him to reach new heights as he continues to establish his thought-provoking and unique sound.
PRINCE – WELCOME 2 AMERICA
FOR Prince's fans, the contents of his legendary Paisley Park vault are the most tantalising prospect in music: legend has it that the haul features several thousand unreleased songs.
The problem is, you can count on one hand the number of truly great albums that were shelved by the artist and then posthumously released – and this isn't one of them.
The title track serves as a gripping funk state-of-the-nation tirade invoking racial injustice, social media and reality TV culture, while Born 2 Die – a slinky Curtis Mayfield paean dripped in honey – is far more prosaic Prince, but just as delightful.
Yet, before long, any promise fades in favour of filler – the painfully vacant 1,000 Light Years From Here and Hot Summer are particularly tough listening for those who treasure Purple Rain or Sometimes It Snows In April.
The sad truth for fans is that some buried treasures are just better off buried.
ANNE-MARIE – THERAPY
SOME big names join Essex-born singer-songwriter on her second album: it might be hard to stand out when you are sharing the limelight with Little Mix and Niall Horan, but Anne-Marie doesn't need a co-star on tracks like stand-out opener x2, which is sweet on the surface but vows revenge via icy vocals.
Much of the album couples lively tunes to painful emotions, including hit single Don't Play (with KSI and Digital Farm Animals) and Unlovable (featuring Rudimental).
The emotional Better Not Together describes a toxic relationship, while Little Mix join for the feisty single Kiss My (Uh Oh) which samples Lumidee for a dancefloor track about walking away.
Our Song stirs up emotions of a past relationship and it's easy to hear Anne-Marie's friend Ed Sheeran's writing influence on Beautiful.
With some big songs early on, it is slightly disappointing that the introspective title track Therapy closes the enjoyable album on an unexpectedly subdued note.
ALAN VEGA – MUTATOR
UNCOMPROMISING, uneasy listening from Alan Vega from pioneering synthpunk duo Suicide, who died in 2016: dating from 1995/6, this 'lost' album is his first posthumous release and its eight tracks sound oddly timeless.
Mostly industrial in sound, with spoken word vocals, washes of keyboards and programmed beats, the themes remain elusive, although there are repeated religious references. Trinity, the 77-second opening track, sees Vega repeating Trinity while disembodied voices intone Father and Holy Ghost.
Fist is urgent and ominous, Samurai a delicate, wistful backing track with cryptic spoken words, and final track Breathe fades away into layered synths.
Vega was almost 60 when he recorded Mutator, inspired by the incessant traffic noise and industrial ambience of the New York streets, but was focused on capturing new sounds, rather than playing it safe.
Produced and mixed by longtime collaborator Liz Lamere and close friend Jared Artaud, the result would surely have been appreciated by Vega, despite his dislike of looking back.