MGMT “Little Dark Age”

What initially sounds like a muddy and directionless fourth album from the Brooklyn duo soon reveals its hidden charms. Defiantly off-key and at times decidedly bleak, yet replete with huge bouncy 80’s synths – Little Dark Age showcases MGMT’s way of straddling the mainstream, yet not actually being very mainstream. Their second best album to date. A result. 8/10

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Nils Frahm “All Melody”

Berlin based Nils Frahm releases his latest opus which incorporates his trademark modern-electronic-classical approach with an increased focus on acoustics. “All Melody” is a stunning piece of design, which may possibly lack cohesion over it’s 73 minutes, but is still a must-listen. 8/10.

Associates “Fourth Drawer Down”

1981 compilation from Scottish duo (Billy Mackenzie and Alan Rankine) collects six A & B sides from the singles released that year. The sonic experimentation on show is spellbinding as are the chill-winds blowing through the lyrics. 8/10

A-ha “Scoundrel Days”

Superior 80’s pop from the Norwegian trio; a maturer sound than their debut, “Scoundrel Days” has confidence and is often inspired. Anyone interested should go for the remastered 2010 issue which includes demos. 9/10.

Frankie Goes To Hollywood “Liverpool”

Somewhat forgotten follow-up to “Welcome To The Pleasuredome”, Liverpool is actually a more consistent listen which deserves re-appraisal. Contains some great FGTH moments along with one of the best pop songs ever written: “Watching The Wildlife”. Superb. 10/10.

Best of 2017 – Albums

  1. Sparks “Hippopotamus”
  2. Hauschka “What If”
  3. Kolsch “1989”
  4. Carl Craig “Versus”
  5. Sasha “Refracted Live”
  6. Jacques Greene “Feel Infinite”
  7. Future Islands “The Far Field”
  8. Blanck Mass “World Eater”
  9. Fujiya & Miyagi “Fujiya & Miyagi”
  10. Bicep “Bicep”
  11. Curtis Harding “Face Your Fear”

Curtis Harding “Face Your Fear”

Deliciously old-school soul album from one-time Gnarls Barkley backing vocalist. The retro vibe and occasionally dark subject matter propels the album from start to finish and makes for very rewarding repeated listen. Excellent. 8/10.

Fujiya & Miyagi “Different Blades from the Same Pair of Scissors”

Apparently originally written in 2008 (for a Nike “running track”) and released in 2011, “Different Blades from the Same Pair of Scissors” has finally been fully re-released in 2017. It’s a glorious 37 minute krautrock indebted affair with plenty of clever rhythmic refrains and gear changes along the way. And it’s one of the finest pieces of music the Brighton four piece have produced. Superb. 9/10

Lindstrom “It’s Alright Between Us As It Is”

We love Hans-Peter Lindstrøm, the Norwegian space-disco veteran with a penchant for the extended electro-groove wig-out. However, let’s be frank, he hasn’t released anything in the last 10 years which comes even remotely close to the genius that is “Where You Go I Go Too“. Joyously, “It’s Alright Between Us As It Is” plays to his strengths with plenty of melodic build, fearless arpeggios and robust percussion. It’s designed as a continuous piece and requires listening from start to finish – and worth the entry price alone for the Frida Sundemo assisted “But Isn’t It”. Largely brilliant. 8/10.

Sasha “Refracted Live”

First foray into live performance for UK dance legend. Accompanied by numerous musicians and a string section, Refracted is a glorious journey through old and new tracks (often merging into one another). The whole shebang ebbs and flows building to often memorising climaxes. In fact, it’s so good, we’ve booked tickets for his dates next year. Did we say it also sounds incredible? Wow. 9/10.

Jane Weaver “Modern Kosmology”

Jane Weaver continues her ever-more enthralling journey into leafy folk and indie electronica (with a healthy dash of motorik beats). Modern Kosmology requires your attention to avoid it merely passing you by. The sound and vocals could at times be a little fuller, but this is a tight album of ten songs (not short on fabulous pop hooks) which, once absorbed, stay with the listener long after the needle has risen. Rather lovely. 8/10

Beck “Colors”

Album number 13 from Beck is possibly his shiniest most-pop record to date. It’s big and full-on with bass and percussion to the fore. It’s a bit of a shame that it has been released in October, as in some ways it’s a perfect summer record – bright and colourful with nothing too taxing for the listener. One final thought: we are a little confused, as brilliant as it is, why “Dreams” appears twice? 7/10

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.

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.

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