Umpteenth album from Arizona Tex-Mex duo Joey Burns and John Convertino is another solid entry in their growing canon. We miss their more authentic, slightly less “indie-rock” early albums, but there is a pleasant variety on display here with Spanish vocals on track “Flores y Tamales” and a splash of sonic playfulness elsewhere. Highlights include the final two tracks “Thrown to the Wild” and “Music Box”, which are really rather beautiful. 7/10.
The Brummie three-piece (Roland Gift, David Steele & Andy Cox) cracked America with their huge second (and sadly, final) long player. More synth-driven (and initially appearing pop-lite) than their debut, this is countered with a lyrical pathos which gives the album some real emotional heft. Sounding better than ever, almost 30 years later. 9/10.
Second album proper from Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, which alongside its iconic yawning cover and irresistible pop-chops was a huge seller. Very much a document of Thatcher’s 80’s England, the four huge pop singles (two were UK number ones) ensures Actually’s place in pop history. However, there are further delights to be found – not least the sombre, yet utterly sublime “It Couldn’t Happen Here” which has only grown in stature as the years have passed. Note: the 2018 remaster sounds particularity glorious on vinyl. 9/10.
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
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