Albums: new music from Built To Spill, The Amazons, Robbie Williams and Oliver Sim
BUILT TO SPILL – WHEN THE WIND FORGETS YOUR NAME
THREE decades on from their 1992 debut, Built To Spill finally releasing an album on Sub Pop seems like a perfect move.
Opener Gonna Lose features a huge opening riff and some 'grunge trademark' loud/quiet/loud dynamics across its 154 seconds, Spiderweb and Never Alright channel REM and Dinosaur Jr, and Fools Gold dials down the guitar fury for a hint of early Neil Young.
Rocksteady strays furthest from the classic Built To Spill template with dub and reggae instrumentation, while Understood refers to stuntman Evel Knievel's infamous failed 1974 attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in Boise, Idaho, the hometown of band leader Doug Martsch, who collaborated with Le Almeida and Joao Casaes of Brazilian psychedelic jazz rock outfit Orua for this record.
The result is up there with Built To Spill's best.
THE AMAZONS – HOW WILL I KNOW IF HEAVEN WILL FIND ME?
BLENDING striking realism with alternative sound, The Amazons' third studio album is a punchy addition to their catalogue that stays true to their distinctive style.
Drawing directly on their experiences of the pandemic, the atmospheric opening and spacy operatic vocals in How Will I Know signal a desire for more space and expansiveness from the outset.
The consistent and controlled beat in Say It Again and There's A Light underpin the rigidity of life stuck at home, but an overriding sense of yearning prevails in Matthew Thomson's honest lyrics, while the sizeable space left for instrumentals also provides a linguistic quality that stirs feelings of energy and optimism.
This is achieved even without losing sight of the loneliness of lockdown, as evidenced in For The Night.
The Amazons' latest offering injects some much-needed impetus into an inactive time, while delivering a personal address universally relatable for the time it was composed in.
ROBBIE WILLIAMS – XXV
ROBBIE Williams celebrates his 25th anniversary as a solo artist with orchestral re-workings of his greatest hits.
Ranging from his breakout single Angels to his latest, Love My Life, the album includes deep cuts from Williams' back catalogue as opposed to just the hits. However, while these orchestral mixes are well produced, the only noticeable differences from the originals are the additional strings and the vocals of an older Robbie.
While some such as Millennium and Bodies were already orchestral to a certain degree, it is fascinating to hear how the more rock-orientated singles such as Kids have been modified.
It's refreshing to hear such a fantastic discography in a new light, but ultimately it's the original versions of these songs which will continue to hold a special place in the hearts of fans the world over.
OLIVER SIM – HIDEOUS BASTARD
OLIVER Sim is finally carving out his own space outside of The xx with his debut album offering something familiar, new and brutally honest.
Debut single Romance With A Memory encapsulates the 10-track record's ethos as it rings through with Sim's hypnotising vocals but layered with new synth beats and samples.
On the powerful opening number, Hideous, Sim declares "I'm ugly" before revealing her has been living with HIV since he was 17. It introduces the album's themes of fear, shame, loneliness, secrets and masks.
This melancholic electronica carries through in tracks such as Sensitive Child and GMT but closing song Run The Credits does provide an unusually upbeat moment.
While Sim hasn't strayed too far from his roots, fans will appreciate a more personal moment with The xx singer.