Saturday, October 30, 2004

Album Review Compendium #2 (aka We Have More Money Than Senser)

It's probably selfish of me in such heightened times, but I'm glad that Interpol have seemingly given up on that potentially dangerous business of foiling international crime in favour of detonating their own special brand of rock nonsense that can be found on their second record Antics. People have been damning this album with faint praise, but in my opinion Carlos & Co. are easily the best rock band of the decade so far and I respond to their songs on such an instantaneous and instinctive basis I just find it really hard to believe other people don't get it. Admittedly, the album is stylistically no great departure from their debut, but who really expected or wanted it to be? 'Antics' is slightly more polished and commercial, but the only other difference is that they choose to open the record with the slower song, Next Exit, which is the one that has drawn comparisons with REM. This track, next single 'Evil'; 'Not Even Jail' and first single 'Slow Hands' (which contains a brilliant rumbling bassline at its centre) are the obvious standouts, but all of the tracks have their moments in a record that keeps on giving. Antics then, displays thoroughly exemplary behaviour (and we didn't even mention Joy Division/New Order once). But you've already got it, right? Right?

It might seem like Interpol have been around for ages but they're merely pups in the world of making dark, brooding rock music in comparison to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds who have recently delivered their latest opus, double album Abattoir Blues/The Lyre Of Orpheus. I guess another excellent Cave album doesn't exactly make headline news, even in a music blog, but that's really no excuse not to buy it, now, is it? The album exhibits the full range of Cave's songwriting skills and it's a record rich in quality, atmosphere and good old-fashioned hell-raising. Worth having a butcher's, then.

No new records by The Flaming Lips in 2004, so give The Polyphonic Spree enough robe and they'll produce the requisite placebo. Five years on from 'The Soft Bulletin' this style of record feels more formulaic than fantastic, but as songs sung in a high pitch that are alternately quiet and rousing go, DeLaughter and friends deliver the goods in pleasing style on Together We're Heavy. They ain't heavy, but I'm glad they bother: listening to this record makes me ridiculously happy (although I offer no rational explanation for this vaguely alarming state of affairs).

I guess Radio 4 aren't the hippest band on the NYC block, none of them look like catwalk models and they're old enough not to boast about their STDs. But they have taken similar early-80s influences to their contemporaries (The Rapture, Interpol) and yet forged an identity and a sound that is very much their own. R4 have received a rough critical ride in some quarters for Stealing Of A Nation but what it lacks in immediacy it compensates with stealth: once tunes like 'Absolute Affirmation' creep in the back door through to your subconscious they're difficult to evict, pulsing basslines and thoughtful lyrics providing the staying power.

Talking of radios, The Radio Dept. from Sweden are at the forefront of the shiny nu-shoe movement with the acclaimed release of Lesser Matters. As someone who always stuck up for the shoegazers (apart from Chapterhouse, who *were* rubbish, particularly live) I should really be into this record, and yet, for all its impressive technical prowess and sonic splendour it leaves me a little cold and wanting something less efficient and impersonal: it's like My Bloody Valentine as reconstructed by IKEA boffins. A little more spit and a little less polish, though, and maybe these nu-shoes could yet buff up nicely.

I also have my problems with the latest Air record Talkie Walkie. It's not that it isn't lovely (it is, very much so) in that very sophisticated gallic way of theirs, but it seems a backward step from their last record which, however uneven, at least seemed to be exploring new directions for the duo. Talkie Walkie is the sound of a band playing safe, and is effectively no more challenging than a Dido or Zero 7 record, feelgood muzak for people who like to pretend they're edgy.

Finally, I realise it's not cool to like The Killers but I can't help myself: Las Vegas popsters selling faux Shed 7 songs back to Blighty is one of this year's most welcome developments, as is the central riff to 'All These Things That I Have Done' which mainlines serotonin to my cerebral cortex like no other. They seem to go to the same second-hand stores as The Walkmen and The Features, though: hand-me-down riffs and influences are one thing, but PV's suede denim secret police insist those cardies are gonna have to go...



Post a Comment

<< Home