P!nk - Beautiful Trauma
Stars - 2
It’s been almost 20 years since P!nk burst onto the airwaves, all exclamation marks and RnB infused party tunes. Beautiful Trauma is her seventh album and you have to wonder if she’s running out of ideas. Anyone who’s listened to a previous Pink album will be familiar with the rhythm of this one - a couple of party songs, some lovelorn power balladry, the odd heart-on-sleeve pop song and a nod towards social issues. Sure, there’s a baffling moment when she has a bash at rapping, but otherwise it’s pretty much business as usual. Whatever You Want sounds like something Taylor Swift would bash out between boyfriends, while Where We Go has overtones of Ed Sheeran and the title track has cowriter-of-the-moment Jack Antonoff’s pianopounding paw prints all over it - but despite influences that are glaringly obvious to the 2017 pop fan, filtered through Pink’s powerful pipes they make the album unmistakably hers.
Liam Gallagher - As You Were
Stars - 4
Who’d have thought it? After the high profile fall outs, the lacklustre offerings from Beady Eye and then several years of silence, Liam is back with a solo album. And blimey it’s actually… really good. He might come across as all mouth and no trousers when he’s on the Graham Norton show, but it’s clear there’s way more to him than just the voice. The genius is in the collaborations. Adele’s producer Greg Kurstin is one, Andrew Wyatt who has collaborated with Florence + the Machine is another. The result is surprisingly crafted, even (shock, horror) a bit like the Oasis of the old days, when they were good. Greedy Soul is a rollicking rock song with a catchy chorus and great guitar riffs. Wall of Glass is just as gutsy, a great single and well worth turning up loud. For What It’s Worth is a lovely Lennon-esque ballad which sounds a lot like Don’t Look Back In Anger, anthemic stuff. Tuneful, melodic, utterly uplifting. And in front of it all… that voice. I’d forgotten how uniquely compelling it is. It has range, it has depth and it all comes across as surprisingly effortless. This album will sell truckloads. And it should.
Mike Took listens to the latest albums
The Magic Whip
Their first studio album in more than a decade, The Magic Whip is Blur’s opportunity to show they can still captivate beyond the live stage. Guitarist Graham Coxon is back in the booth – the first time since 1999’s 13 album - and the winning formula is complete with Stephen Street, Blur’s maverick producer during their mid-90s pomp.
Lead single Lonesome Street is a pleasant, four-chord chug levelled against sprightly, plinky-plonky synths. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The melancholy of My Terracotta Heart is trademark Damon Albarn; a sound more akin to his work with Gorillaz. They still have the power to surprise though, no more so than on Ghost Ship; a loose, reggae-ish track powered by Alex James’s funky bassline and a surprisingly laidback Coxon. However, Coxon’s let off the leash properly for I Broadcast, a fun romp littered with his unmistakable, buzzsaw guitar lines. A fine return.
MUMFORD AND SONS
Gentleman of the Road / Island
Hang on, is that the sound of an electric guitar being plugged into an amp? Yes it is! After their disappointing (yet global munching) second album, Babel, Mumford and Sons have decided to throw the banjos on the fire and shut down the barn dance.
It’s a smart move and Wilder Mind, in part, is the sound of a band yearning to break free from their indie-folk shackles. With its purposeful, chugging guitars and pounding drums The Wolf is the best thing they’ve done since their debut.
Sadly, the pang of excitement doesn’t last though. The quiet-loud dynamic of Believe is a stab at Coldplay’s euphoric-pop which just doesn’t work out. Clichéd and tedious.
I Am Other / Columbia
After his brief foray into reggae on reincarnated in 2013, Snoop Lion is dead and the Dogg is back wagging his tail on Bush; a not-so-subtle nod to his love for the green herb.
Snoop’s an interesting ball of contradiction; a committed family man with three children, he embraces all of hip-hop’s seedy stereotypes. The running themes of weed, drink and hot girls remain, but because it’s delivered in such tongue-in-cheek fashion he manages to deflect the critics. The ubiquitous Pharrell Williams is on production duties and creates ten slick tracks to get any nightclub shaking.
Peaches N Cream is a Funkadelic-inspired jam with Snoop’s laconic, cartoon rhymes slickly delivered over Pharrell’s taut beats. So Many Pros repeats the trick; another infectious slice of hip-hop pop narrating more good times at the club.
It’s all a bit silly, especially for a man of 43, but wonderful fun nonetheless.
Kylie Minogue, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
It’s not often that you get the chance to see the diminutive Aussie pop princess in such close proximity on these shores, so it’s not surprising that tickets for the show went quicker than a rest break in a billabong. And the delighted throng aren’t disappointed from the opening adulation that greets her appearance to new song Golden. With costume changes breaking up the mammoth 27-song set that spans her entire career, there’s plenty to keep our attention: from Kylie dancing on a pool table on Shelby ‘69, donning a striking leather ensemble for Slow and Kids, and trading her iconic hot pants for a more reserved gold dress for Spinning Around. Though unlike the London date that saw an appearance from Jason Donovan, the crowd are more than happy to take on his part for Especially For You and naturally jostle for position during the routine for The Loco- Motion. Nights like this with an iconic pop superstar on such flawless form don’t come around this often and need to be treasured.
Coheed And Cambria, Y Plas, Cardiff
The fact that one half of the band’s title is the Roman name for this country can’t have escaped many tonight, given Coheed And Cambria and their diehard fans’ attention to detail. Something that’s bestowed in the innovative sci-fi storyline that links all but one of their nine albums to date. With such a catalogue of material, it’s a bit disappointing the New Yorkers’ all too brief set means they only have a chance to dip into it, with the bulk dedicated to latest effort The Unheavenly Creatures. However, after Chon’sddly instrumental support slot is politely received, the rapturous responses to new tunes The Dark Sentencer and title track already cements them as firm favourites, only out-sung by a four-song run from In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth: 3. Frontman Claudio Sanchez is never less than humble, with his delicate, high-pitched voice a cornerstone of the band’s unique charm, while still going full-on guitar hero for the likes of epic closer Welcome Home.
Those Damn Crows – Murder And The Motive
With a sound more accustomed to US arenas and tropes of whisky and, naturally, a love of rock n’ roll, you’d be surprised to learn that these muscular rock upstarts hail from Bridgend. Afforded a pristine production, Those Dam Crows are more than capable of holding their own amongst the likes of Alter Bridge, Shinedown, Black Country Communion and even chart-conquerors Nickelback, especially given the soulful pipes of Shane Greenhall. But what’s most impressive about Murder And the Motive is the sheer quality of the songs, bristling with excitement from the opening notes of each and holding attention with an inescapable blend of massive hooks and infectious enthusiasm. Whether it’s the swagger and groove of The Fighter and country- tinged
Behind these Walls to the strident balladry of Someone Someday and Blink Of An Eye, the riffs and picked melodies hit every sweet spot while backed up by a pounding rhythm section. The Brits have played second fiddle to their cousins across the Pond when it comes to this sort
of thing, yet now those Damn Crows have all the armaments needed to best them at their own game.
The Joy Formidable - AAARTH(Seradom)
No longer with a major label and seemingly no longer required to stifle their creativity either, the Mold trio’s fourth album is a gloriously inventive mash up of styles and concepts, adopting the kitchen sink approach but with enough song-writing nous and an ear for an irresistible hook to fit everything together seamlessly. Every track takes on its own deranged yet delightful character: from the computerized blips and spoken word of the claustrophobic opener Y Bluen Eira, which accelerates into an avalanche of drums,
to Go Loving’s macabre post-punk influences that give way to refreshing ivory tinkling. Guitarist and vocalist Rhiannon Bryan uses all manner of jaunty effects on her instrument to pepper the dulcet The Better Me, while lead single The Wrong Side tantalises with its effortless chorus and pounding bass line. The undoubted highlight is Dance Of The Lotus’ shamanic guitars and enchanting vocals that once again proves that there are few bands around that can be this artistic and daring while seemingly equipped to conquer the mainstream.