Kolsch “1989”

Final part of his autobiographical “growing-up” trilogy (following “1977” & “1983”) from Danish producer¬†Rune Reilly is the best yet. 1989 melds precision electronics, melancholic chords alongside classical flourishes (courtesy of The Heritage Orchestra on four tracks). It’s very much dance music for the head, but with a strong atmospheric vibe. A soundtrack for lost youth. 9/10.

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Bicep “Bicep”

Overdue debut album from Belfast duo is very much a love-letter to 80’s & 90’s dance music. The production is exceptionally precise/crisp (in fact very trebly) and thankfully sounds fantastic loud (respect: analogue synths aplenty). A handful of tracks verge on the generic, but the homeward stretch in particular (“Opal” onwards) is frankly joyous. Recommended. 8/10.

Sparks “Hippopotamus”

Glorious 23rd album (or so?) from the brothers Mael.¬†“Hippopotamus” consists of 15 concise vignettes of perfectly formed Sparks. Almost distilling their unique art-pop raison d etre in a single long player, it feels like a career spanning best of. Witty, and bursting with melody, it is little wonder that the album has hit no.7 in the UK (first for 40 years) and has garnered huge reviews. Occasionally an album feels like a potential classic on initial listens. This is one such album – utterly wonderful. Embrace them while you still can. 9/10

Sunsonic “Melting Down On Motor Angel”

Mildly obscure, very early ’90’s pop/rock hybrid album which bombed even with reasonable publicity, top remixer (Oakenfold’s mix of single “A Kind of Loving”) and fab single/album artwork. It’s very much of its time, but an interesting curiosity nonetheless (with a faultless first half/side A and an increasingly guitar-driven second half). For those with an eye for a banger, the 808 State/Graham Massey remix of “Driveaway” is a work of genius (ebay the 12″ or CD single). 7/10

Erasure “World Be Gone”

Such is the inconsistency with later-day Erasure albums, you never know quite what to expect. 2014’s “The Violet Flame” was wonderful, whilst 2011’s “Tomorrow’s World” has long been consigned to the pop-dumper. World Be Gone is certainly informed by today’s global troubles and is a largely sombre slow-tempo affair. Musically, it’s fairly sparse too, with Andy Bell’s vocals front and centre. Unfortunately it’s a little too earnest and lacking any real bite or killer chord changes. Not awful, but way to workmanlike. 5/10

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