Albums round-up - July 2014

New releases by Sinead O'Connor, Wire, Tender Games, Cocteau Twins and more reviewed

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Albums round-up - July 2014

Sinead O'Connor

Various artists – Hyperdub 10.2

(Hyperdub) ●●●●●
Hyperdub’s 10th anniversary celebrations proceed apace with this second of four compilations released through 2014. Sorry to gush, but god it’s beautiful, a who’s who of the post-dubstep, post-garage, post-electro styles which the label has stewed together across its history, including the atmospherics of Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland, the future dubstep of Burial and Cooly G, the sci-fi soul of Ikonika (with Dam-Funk) and the label’s own boss Kode 9. (David Pollock)

Sinead O’Connor – I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss

(Nettwerk) ●●●
Recently most famed for her wonderfully forthright opinions (notable recipient: M Cyrus) than her wonderfully forthright music, Sinead O’Connor here returns with a tenth studio album aimed more at the converted than any new acolytes out there. Still, it’s a strong record on its own terms, with standouts like unreconstructed rocker ‘The Voice of My Doctor’ and the Seun Kuti-featuring funk of ‘James Brown’ balancing the limper ballads. (DP)

Wire – Document & Eyewitness 1979–1980

(Pink Flag) ●●●
Whether a live recording can recreate the experience of the original is lent a little evidence towards the negative here, with a reissue of seminal post-punks Wire’s ‘live bootleg’ of their Dadaist 1980 stage show at London’s Electric Ballroom. The quality is raw but the atmosphere is dangerous and there are some nice musical motifs (the demented sax on ‘Eels Sang Lino’, for example), although often the effect is like listening to a party happening in the house next door. Extra tracks from Notre Dame Hall and Montreaux sound a bit cleaner. (DP)

Tender Games – Tender Games

(Suol) ●●●●
Their core style of chillwave mixed with a vaguely jackin’ electro-house groove might not set them ahead of any creative curves, but the duo of Marlon Hoffstadt and Well Done! label boss HRRSN have created an album of consistently high quality and often striking stylistic curveballs. From the squelchy acid groove of ‘A Million Times’ to the synthesised James Blake soul jams of ‘Lost’ and ‘Tonight’ and the sparse electric blues of ‘In Her Bed’, it’s all richly rewarding. (DP)

Matthew CollingsSilence Is A Rhythm Too

(Denovali Records) ●●
This second album from the Edinburgh-based composer and sound artist is titled in reference to a Slits track, with whom he shares a certain deconstructivist approach and even a hint of tribal primitivism at one point. But, unlike The Slits, this is music for the head rather than the gut – a minimalist suite, more abstract than his debut Splintered Instruments, which variously foregrounds delicate piano, pointed or eddying strings, a fog of brass, post-rock menace and sundry found sounds. Fine if that’s your bag. (Fiona Shepherd)


Sebastien Tellier – L’Aventura

(Because Music) ●●●●
The smooth operator of Gallic electro pop returns with his second album in the space of a year, and this time his eyes are on Brazil. Pourquoi? Some big sporting event, apparently. So L’Aventura flirts coquettishly with bossa nova and tropicalia, as well as Tellier’s usual seductive, playful blend of French chanson, electronic exotica, disco strings, synth prog and breathy crooning – most of which are encompassed by mammoth centrepiece ‘Comment revoir Oursinet?’ (FS)

Anna Calvi – 'Strange Weather' EP

(Domino) ●●
Calvi flaunts her good taste but also exposes the shortcomings of her melodramatic act on this terribly serious five-track covers EP, which abandons the abandon, as it were, of Suicide’s ‘Ghost Rider’ and fails to capture the rapture of Bowie’s ‘Lady Grinning Soul’. Even with the gender play, her version of ‘I’m The Man That Will Find You’ cannot hope to outweird Connan Mockasin’s original. Special guest David Byrne lightens things up a tad on the title track. (FS)


Cocteau Twins – Blue Bell Knoll/Heaven Or Las Vegas

(4AD) ●●● / ●●●●
Prepare to swoon like a tightly corsetted Victorian lady on a sultry day to these vinyl repressings of the final two Cocteau Twins albums. Shoegazing benchmark Blue Bell Knoll with its actual, intelligible lyrics has barely aged a day in the 26 years since its original release, while Heaven Or Las Vegas, warmed by Liz Fraser’s maternal cooing, was their most commercially successful album and a favourite of 4AD boss Ivo Watts-Russell. (FS)

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