Jamie xx – In Colour
The producer’s debut solo album is just as accomplished and atmospheric as his previous work with The xx and Gil Scott-Heron. It opens with Gosh, which devolves into a synthline that sounds like a 2015 reimagining of Orbital’s Belfast. This is followed by the eerie swell of Sleep Sound. If sunshine had a sound it would be steel drums so they should be used wherever possible and they are put to good use on Obvs. xx’s work manages to encompass textured and lovely ambience but also songs to jump up to that are a cut above the rest (I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times). The album ends with the Burial-like beauty of Girl. An album to get lost in – my pick of the week.
Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
The human wind machine that is Florence is as understated as Ru Paul’s Drag Race. She has a monopoloy on her particular brand of mystical, histrionic banshee-pop. I say this as a fan. I like her strong aesthetic, her tremulous yet bombastic voice which belts and reaches the higher echelons with ease and the strength of her tunes. There’s the crystalline shimmer of Delilah – the bridge just begging to be remixed, the majesty of How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful and the uncharacteristic quieter moment of Various Storms and Saints. Resistance is futile, this will be the sound of the summer. You can either come quietly or fight it, but either way Florence will be worming her way into your ears.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
Has psychedelia and funk/soul been mixed to such good effect before? There is nothing on the album to surpass the incandescent singles Multi-Love and Can’t Keep Checking My Phone but it continues in much the same vein – sweet voice, strong hooks.
Soak – Before We Forgot How to Dream
The 19-year-old Irish singer/songwriter’s debut album is lovely low-fi. The song titles are irritatingly type-faced but that is a minor niggle on what is an arresting debut, her distinctive folky voice guiding you through simple songs.
Major Lazer – Peace is the Mission
The third album from Diplo’s side project is not a hot mess but it is hit and miss. The single Lean On is an obvious highlight, but there is also an annoying turn by Ellie Goulding on Powerful (how disappointing is she an artist – her first two singles were amazing but now all that remains is jarring affectations – why are you pronouncing it like that?). I’m perplexed as to why Elliphant, a white Swedish girl sounds like she’s from Jamaica but I kinda like her on Too Original. Blaze Up the Fire is suitably hectic. In fact, the whole album is pretty hectic, not always in a good way.
Melody Gardot – Currency of Man
Classy retro soul on the singer’s third album.
A$AP Rocky – AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP
This is more cocooning and dream-like than a lot of rap albums but the lyrics are still clichéd and repetitive. The album is hypnotic but overlong. Everyday uses a Rod Stewart sample, his rasp accentuated by Miguel singing the chorus again, as smooth as a curling track. The track is disjointed but it’s an interesting sample to pick.