DRY CLEANING – STUMPWORK
ARRIVING 18 months after debut New Long Leg, Stumpwork sticks mostly to the London quartet's established blueprint of spoken vocals over post-punk backing.
However, when Dry Cleaning debuted the new tune Don't Press Me at Grace Jones' Meltdown over the summer, there were raised eyebrows at the fact that frontwoman Florence Shaw was actually singing on it.
But, apart from some "doo doo doo doo doos" on the title track there's not much more singing on Stumpwork. New single Gary Ashby is closest to conventional narrative, about a family tortoise who escaped during lockdown.
Produced again by John Parish, guitarist Tom Dowse, bassist Lewis Maynard and drummer Nick Buxton are a formidably tight unit, honed and ready to tour until April.
Stumpwork builds on the platform of the debut, and while a third album in this style might be one too many, Dry Cleaning are at the top of their game.
MEGHAN TRAINOR – TAKIN' IT BACK
THE American pop siren sticks to what she knows with her fifth studio album, with 16 tracks that make you want to get up and dance – much like her past offerings.
Self-care is a central theme to many of her songs, including on While We're Young which sends out a message to those who don't feel worthy to embrace learning curves. Meanwhile, Shook, about her favourite rear asset, is an instant mood lifter.
Starting as a piano ballad, Rainbow transitions to a pop song that puts a smile on your face, much like upbeat cut Lucky. A heartfelt moment in the album comes in Bad For Me, about close relationships with family.
Trainor also goes in a different direction with Latin American style Mama Wanna Mambo which leaves you wanting to salsa.
Takin' It Back doesn't stray far from her previous work but it feels authentically Meghan Trainor and is an enjoyable listen.
LOYLE CARNER – HUGO
LOYLE Carner is an honest and vital force in the UK rap scene. Unlike the mellow sounds of years gone by, his third record is raging yet controlled.
Tracks like Damselfly and Ottolenghi are eloquent in their anger, with Carner acting as a guide through the complicated narrative of race in the UK.
Hate is an explosive track to open on, and it lays out a path for everything that follows, and everything we should expect from the 28-year-old south Londoner in this new era.
The best track on this album is Georgetown, which samples the seminal poem Half-caste by John Agard.
Carner combines a very Noughties beat with this important spoken word piece to produce a vital statement about being mixed-race in England.
Hugo feels truly novel. It is easily consumed in one go despite being a hard listen, and will surely sit among the best albums of 2022.
PIP MILLETT – WHEN EVERYTHING IS BETTER, I'LL LET YOU KNOW
THIS debut from Stockport-born 24-year-old Pip Millett brings bassy beats and smooth vocals together in thoughtful motion.
It combines Arlo Parks-style thoughtful poetry with the the vibes of icons such as Lauryn Hill, but with a certain uniqueness.
Perhaps it's the lack of fuss that makes her music feel so special – it just exists in melody, harmony and beat.
My Way is a slice of rebellion and rage, but with a fun, upbeat melody behind melancholy lyricism.
It's hard not to press play again when you reach the end of this album, I only wish it had been released in summer as it's the perfect soundtrack for sunny day walks.
Millett takes us on a rounded journey from start to finish on an album exploring her emotions, baggage and thoughts.
The route we take from Ride With Me to Only Love is fulfilling and most importantly, damn fun.