Arts

Albums: New music from Public Service Broadcasting, Roger Taylor and Metronomy, plus a star-studded tribute to the Velvet Underground's seminal debut

Public Service Broadcasting – Bright Magic

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING – BRIGHT MAGIC

YOU can't fault the commitment of J Willgoose Esq: when he dedicates himself to an album concept, he does it with gusto. Bright Magic is a love letter to Berlin and Willgoose relocated to the city for nine months to do his research.

An album of three-parts, Bright Magic draws from a myriad of genres from the city's recent history. Industrial techno, the music of the Weimar, Low era David Bowie and hardscrabble punk are all digested and spat our transformed.

But unlike its predecessor, 2017's Every Valley – a tender, reflective exploration of the rise and fall of Welsh mining – Bright Magic sounds like a tribute rather than a reinvention.

Public Service Broadcasting deliver a suite of impressive, sometimes exhilarating songs, but their uniquely inventive sprit gets lost a little under their clear fondness for their source material.

3/5
Alex Green

ROGER TAYLOR – OUTSIDER

ROGER Taylor is one of a handful of drummers not content to just sit behind the kit. The owner of a decent falsetto, he's more than competent on guitar, bass and keyboards and had a hand in writing timeless Queen tunes like Under Pressure and Radio Ga Ga.

Outsider is his first solo album in nearly a decade and makes a fine case for Taylor as the unsung hero of Queen, even if its dozen songs have more in common with the art rock of 10cc and the shredding of Guns N' Roses than Queen's campy heights.

There are attempts at political commentary on Gangsters Are Running This World and its low-sung, faintly funky sister version later in the album. But mainly Taylor is flexing his musical muscles across a range of genres, from the psychedelia of opener Tides to his glam rock cover of The Clapping Song.

4/5
Alex Green

VARIOUS ARTISTS – I'LL BE YOUR MIRROR: A TRIBUTE TO THE VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO

THE Velvet Underground's1967 debut album must be the most influential flop of all time.

Its enduring influence means heavyweight names such as Iggy Pop and Michael Stipe appear on this tribute album, a track-by-track tribute.

Stipe takes on opener Sunday Morning, even more downbeat than the ennui-swathed original, while the National's Matt Berninger sings I'm Waiting For The Man in a higher pitch than his usual rumbling bass, closer to Reed's nervy delivery.

Some of the most successful tracks radically rework the songs, such as Courtney Barnett's folky I'll Be Your Mirror, her half-speaking delivery closer to Reed than to Nico.

Iggy Pop and Matt Sweeney transform final track European Son into almost eight minutes of barely controlled chaos.

Like all the best tribute albums, I'll Be Your Mirror makes you want to listen on repeat while also sending you back to the originals with a fresh appreciation.

4/5
Matthew George

METRONOMY – POSSE EP VOLUME 1

JOSEPH Mount and his indietronica outfit have secured a place in history as genre founders and live stalwarts.

Now they want to work directly with the next wave of talent and their new Posse series of EPs offers them exactly this chance.

Half An Inch with Peckham rapper Pinty is the best thing here. A vibrating and funky instrumental from Metronomy gives Pinty a solid base upon which to rap about his hopes and dreams, with a good dose of self-deprecation thrown in.

Irish singer and rapper Jessica Smyth, known by the stage name Biig Piig, appears on the dreamy, synth-laden 405, another standout.

But like the album Humanz by Damon Albarn's Gorillaz project, a similar experiment in collaboration, this EP is a bit all over the place.

Some of these songs may sound raw or even unfinished, but there is enough here to engage the average listener and excite the fan about part two.

3/5
Alex Green

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