Albums: New music from Foals, TV Priest, Perfume Genius and Hercules and Love Affair
FOALS – LIFE IS YOURS
ON THEIR upbeat seventh album, Foals prove why they have ascended so smoothly to the top of the indie game. The funk-infused effort opens with the title track delivering the positive message "Life is yours, break away".
It instantly stands out as a highlight, while appropriately titled lead single Wake Me Up's thundering melody is aided by frontman Yannis Philippakis' energetic vocals. 2am focuses on social anxiety among millennials and its hooky chorus has earned it well-deserved airplay on Radio 1.
The second half of the album is a different beast. Despite lacking variety, each of its tracks remains epic in scope, culminating in Wild Green, which is somewhat dreamy and touches upon the psychedelic elements of Tame Impala.
Ultimately, Foals demonstrate how the departure of two members hasn't hindered them and proves they are still leaders in the modern indie scene.
TV PRIEST – MY OTHER PEOPLE
The second album from London rockers TV Priest comes just over a year from their debut. And where that album felt rushed, My Other People feels perfectly paced.
On tracks such as Bury Me In My Shoes and The Breakers, a distinctive sound shines through.
Unfairly lumped in with the post-punk revival, frontman Charlie Drinkwater and co stretch out on funky opener One Easy Things and the low-slung I Am Safe Here.
In fact, the band tend towards Americana and grungey alternative rock – a noticeable departure from their debut.
Drinkwater's half-spoken, half-sung vocals still hit home nicely but his lyrics this time veer towards the inward-looking – mental health and healing are at the core of this record.
My Other People is a leap forward for TV Priest, a vulnerable record that connects on a new level.
PERFUME GENIUS – UGLY SEASON
PERFUME Genius steps into the avant-garde with Ugly Season. The score to his 2019 theatrical dance production The Sun Still Burns Here, it is accompanied by a film collaboration with visual artist Jacolby Satterwhite.
Created at the same as the fifth Perfume Genius album, 2020's Set My Heart On Fire Immediately, Ugly Season fuses cinematic and classical influences with bursts of beauty and melody, and is largely instrumental.
The opening track, Just A Room, is probably the most experimental, apparently random piano notes, stately synths and the lyrics virtually inaudible.
The otherworldly Herem sees Hadreas singing in a high register, but then there are more discernible songs created with producer Blake Mills and long-term partner Alan Wyffels.
Pop Song, while hardly likely to storm Eurovision, has a more linear structure, and includes drums and percussion.
While Perfume Genius newcomers should start elsewhere, fans will find much to admire in this uncompromising vision.
HERCULES AND LOVE AFFAIR – IN AMBER
RAGE, frustration and despair are at the core of Andy Butler's latest album as Hercules and Love Affair.
It's a record that pulls no punches and seeks to unsettle rather than stimulate.
"I needed to express my discomfort," Butler says in the blurb for the album, and to some extent he achieves this.
In Amber is a tricky listen, full of sparse melodies and jarring beats. When this works, on tracks such as You've Won This War and The Eyes of the Father, the listener spirals into an uncanny world.
But then there are tracks such as Christian Prayers, which feel confused, and the propulsive One, which fails to deliver on Butler's inventive blueprint.
Instead, it sounds like classic dance-floor fodder.
Butler attempts something new here and should be commended for it, but In Amber fails to hit the heights of 2017's stellar Omnion.