Five Best New Releases
Tricky’s second release, ‘Boy’, from his new album ‘Skilled Mechanics’, is a something of a departure from what he’s perhaps best known for, the 1990s trip-hop scene in Bristol. Though the sparseness of his early work is still there, the aggression is more pronounced on ‘Boy’ than on Tricky’s other releases. The song’s foundations are laid through icy synth stabs and pounding 909 drum beats which rattle through the song like gun shots. Sounding fresh and vital, ‘Boy’ shows that Tricky isn’t staying within his safe zone of chilled out trip-hop, he’s moving with the times and making forays into grime and Chicago drill. It’s good to hear something a little more aggressive from Tricky. The short length of this song works wonders. If it were any longer, ‘Boy’ might become overpowering; as it stands, it’s a 2.55 minute sucker-punch. This isn’t a reinvention by any means though. Tricky’s murmured Bristolian lilt is still identifiable which is heartening. Though the song is heavy, it’s still minimalist. This is mirrored by the lyrics which are completely laid bare; there’s no innuendo, just cold fact. The vocals are almost schizophrenic, with Tricky murmuring ‘I slip into the darkness but I don’t leave.’ Whilst relating the harrowing events of his childhood, like his father forgetting his name (hence being called ‘Boy’), he sounds emotionless. This song seems to be less of an exorcism and more of an obsession or even just an airing of childhood memories. This isn’t the first time Tricky has dealt with his parents explicitly in his material: his seminal album ‘Maxinquaye’ is the name of his mother (Maxine Quaye) who died when he was just four. The unbridled rawness and emotion in Tricky’s songs left me feeling slightly uncomfortable, be it describing his mother dying, or his father leaving, like you’re looking into a world you shouldn’t. This is why Tricky remains so dynamic.
Lucius’s new track, ‘Madness’, is slightly disappointing. It’s washy and simpering, with slightly trite lyrics like ‘what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine’. To be brutally honest, the song goes in one ear and out the other. For such an interesting band as Lucius, it’s a very, very beige song. Aside from quite a pleasing key change, the song is pretty boring. ‘Madness’ is in stark contrast with ‘Born Again Teen’, the first song Lucius released from their imminent album ‘Good Grief’ (due on the 11th of March). ‘Born Again Teen’ is fast, catchy and much more Lucius than ‘Madness’. The vocals on ‘Madness’ don’t have the same vitality of ‘Born Again Teen’, or older tracks like ‘Turn It Around’ or ‘Genevieve’. ‘Madness’ is unfortunately syrupy, almost like Taylor Swift or Ella Henderson gained a modicum of artistry. Hopefully Lucius aren’t trying to break into the mainstream with ‘Madness’, and the track is just a little blip, an anomaly. They must keep what made them so exciting in the first place. The only positives I can take from ‘Madness’ is that it’s well produced and has quite a nice key change- it’s also good when it ends… Though ‘Madness’ leaves you with a degree of pessimism about whether ‘Good Grief’ will be any good, Lucius’s song-writing chops can be relied on to carry them through…
Suede's second single ‘No Tomorrow’ off their recent album, ‘Night Thoughts’, is so Suede it’s practically tossing its head back and wailing about kissing. The single signals a return to the ‘Coming Up’ sound of slightly plastic sounding distorted guitars and Bowie-esque vocals. The cinematic strings of classic Suede are there, as is Brett Anderson’s trademark howling plangent. ‘No Tomorrow’ is a brilliant track. It has a completely infectious falsetto vocal hook of ‘fight the sorrow/ of no tomorrow’. It would have been nice to hear a slightly more evolved Suede on their most recent release; they’ve gone down the plastic distortion and strings route so many times that they might be at risk of becoming slightly irrelevant. That being said, the lyrics seem far more personal than anything Suede have done before. Anderson has said that ‘No Tomorrow’ deals with his father’s depression, and this is even more evident from the video, which has a middle-aged man committing suicide. This change in lyrical content is an interesting move from Suede - it’s good to hear that they aren’t still singing about council flats and cocaine. Whilst the musical evolution on ‘No Tomorrow’ is relatively small, the track is still brilliant. It proves that Suede are alive and kicking, and have a few more albums in them yet.
Lust are a psych-pop band from Sweden. They first came to prominence last year with the release of their single ‘Looking Glass’, a shoegazey pop number that, whilst there was nothing wrong with it sonically, sounded just too similar to other psych bands coming out of London at the time. ‘Looking Glass’ could have easily been written by TOY or bands of that ilk. Thankfully, on their new EP, titled Lovender’, they’ve decided to plough their own furrow (to an extent…) and utilise their best asset which is the heavenly harmonies of Andrea, Anna, and Moa which sound like Fleetwood Mac on acid. The standout track from this EP is definitely ‘Falling Through’. This track is fast-paced and has an excellent driving rhythm with the ghost of Stevie Nicks on vocals. ‘Falling Through’ doesn’t outstay its welcome, and clocking in at only 2.52, the track doesn’t degenerate into solos or needless middle sections. The song is kept taut and clean. The bassline is one of the best aspects of this song, which melds with the song perfectly; it’s fast but isn’t obtrusive, and keeps the guitars and vocals in check. Lust seem to be slowly rising out of the East London imitation psych rut that many bands are finding themselves in nowadays and they need to keep going.
It seems a little closeminded to review two tracks with Tricky this month but it was either this or Coldplay’s latest plastic non-song ‘Hymn For The Weekend’… Massive Attack have reappeared with a new EP, ‘Ritual Spirit’, which is chock-full of collaborations with artists like Young Fathers, Roots Manuva and Tricky; it signals a return to form for Bristol’s prodigal sons. The lead single off ‘Ritual Spirit’ is called ‘Take It There’; a classic Massive Attack composition, it has some gorgeously cinematic piano that forms the bedrock of the track. ‘Take It There’ has all the hallmarks of a great Massive Attack release like crackly chilled-out beats and a slow sultry groove. Frequent Massive Attack collaborator Tricky, and band member, 3D, both feature on this track, but the track doesn’t get cluttered. Their voices meld perfectly together, interweaving and playing off each other. Tricky’s deep Bristolian growl is seamlessly overlaid with 3D’s deadpan flow. Though this is a classically Massive Attack song, ‘Take It There’ is a little less paranoid and introverted than earlier releases, and a little more wistful. Hopefully this flurry of activity, a new EP and British tour from Messrs G and D might mean that a long overdue album is on its way. We live in hope.