Rock/Pop

 

The rock and pop reviews of the week...

TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB

Tourist History Kitsuné Music ****

When you’re touted as a the Next Big Thing on the back of your brilliant debut single, the pressure to deliver must be immense. To their credit, Bangor’s Two Door Cinema Club have stepped up to the plate with a sparkling fulllength effort. The trio’s knack for a catchy indiepop hook is striking, as is their ability to stuff their songs with vibrance and imagination and still have a record that clocks in at under 33 minutes. I Can Talkacknowledges Foals and The Futureheads but is infinitely more danceable than anything by either, and the warm, upbeat chug of This Is the Lifeis peppered with between-note skitters, Alex Trimble’s airy voice softening the sharp edges beautifully. Ten pop gems to tap your toe to till it’s a bruised, bloody stump. See twodoorcinema club.com LAUREN MURPHY

Download tracks: I Can Talk, This Is the Life


JOHN, SHELLY + THE CREATURES

Dinosaur Big Life Music ****

These Northerners arrive relatively unheralded and unhyped, which is a good thing. Unlike the other Northern Irish band of the moment (Two Door Cinema Club) John, Shelly + the Creatures let the music talk, and the result is more conversational and casual than in your face. The fact is that songs such as Cold War, Sunny Side Street, Sight of Your Chest, Killer, Frostand Long May You Reigndo what really good songs should: sneak up on you, twist preconceptions, change your mind and then take it over. The range of instruments in use, including flugelhorn, mandolin, cello, viola, violin, glockenspiel and xylophone, indicates not so much an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach (which would usually be the case) but an exceptional grasp of texture, tone and theme. A shoe-in for next year’s Choice Music Prize nominations list? See john shellyandthecreatures.com TONY CLAYTON-LEA

Download tracks: Sight of Your Chest, Killer, Long May You Reign


THE KNIFE

Tomorrow, in a Year Brille ****

No one could accuse The Knife of being obvious. After Karin Dreijer Andersson and brother Olof Dreijer’s Silent Shout album took all the critical plaudits in 2006, a new project was destined to turn heads. That their new album turns out to be an electro-opera based on the life and times of Charles Darwin may cause minds to boggle, but it’s an audacious and intriguing piece of work. A collaboration with Berlin-based electro DJ Matthew Sims and Planningtorock’s Janine Rostron, Tomorrow, in a Yeardoes appear to have more of electronic sizzle than operatic drama, though the vocals of mezzo soprano Kristina Wahlin, Danish actress Laerke Winther and Swedish pop singer Jonathan Johanson provide a subtle narrative. Over two CDs, the ensemble generate and develop a Philip Glass-like cycle of abstract noise and songs that really do get beneath your skin. A strangely compelling release. See theknife.net JIM CARROLL

Download tracks: Colouring of Pigeons, Annie’s Box, Variation of Birds


ALPHABEAT

The Beat Is . . . Polydor ***

The sugar highs had to stop at some stage. When first we met them in 2008, Alphabeat were six wide-eyed scamps who dealt in dayglo, fizzy, sugar-pop sounds and shrieks. For their second album, the Danes have toned down much of that trademark exuberance and expelled a fair shake of those energetic quirks in favour of a voyage around the width and depth of early 1990s pop and dance. It’s an interesting stroll down another memory lane, as the band cast their slinky, catchy melodies towards a sound and style that is probably due for a revival. Yet, as The Spell, DJand Hole in My Heartshow, Alphabeat’s decision to abandon one sound in favour of another has paid off, though it does take a little time to get used to those new shapes. When it comes to matching past and present, however, Heatwave does it with considerable aplomb. See thisisalphabeat. com JIM CARROLL

Download tracks: The Spell, Heatwave


FRIGHTENED RABBIT

The Winter of Mixed Drinks Fat Cat ***

Frightened Rabbit’s third album was almost called Swim Until You Can’t See Land. In the end, their first single took the title, but the songs are still about leaving things behind. After break-up ode The Midnight Organ Fight, singer Scott Hutchison wrote these songs – about a (fictional) man enduring a breakdown – in self-imposed exile. Fear not: the glum notes are merely a musical MacGuffin. Instead, blustery pop is the mainstay, such as the aforementioned Swim, which fastens bell-like guitars to string arrangements from label-mate Hauschka. Unlike its predecessor, The Winter of Mixed Drinkswas tracked separately, giving it a fuller arc, and it’s the assured sound of a band solidly expanding their stall. Mass appeal beckons, but you suspect that thanks to tracks such as Wrestle, Frightened Rabbit’s indie heart is in no danger of falling down a commercial (rabbit) hole. See frightenedrabbit.com SINÉAD GLEESON

Download Tracks: Swim Until You Can’t See Land, Not Miserable


ARCHIE BRONSON

Coconut Domino **

From London, via Bath, the Archie Bronson Outfit(Sam Windett, Dorian Hobday and Mark Cleveland) return, after four years OF cogitating, with their follow-up to 2006’s Derdang Derdang. It’s a curate’s egg with a yummy yolk in the middle; sometimes it seems as if Archie can’t sort out their Krautrock from their Beefhart, but when they do everything seems right and proper with the world. Shark’s Tooth, the lead single, is, aptly, something of a howl, all dissonant voices and an infectious rhythm that would resist the strongest of antibiotics. Wild Strawberries, Hunt You Downand Run Gospel Singeralso make their move on you in the most unusual and brilliant of ways. But then Archie spoil it by going all roiling swamp rock on us (Beefhart unhinged?) with the likes of Chunkand One Up On Yourself. See archiebronsonoutfit.com TONY CLAYTON-LEA

Download tracks: Shark’s Tooth, Wild Strawberries, Hunt You Down


VOICE OF THE SEVEN THUNDERS

Voice of the Seven Thunders Tchantinler ***

Fans of out-there sounds may already have encountered Rick Tomlinson in 2007, when, as Voice of the Seven Woods, he embraced mellow acid folk, Krautrock and psychedelic classical guitar. With collaborators Chris Walmsley and Rory Gibson, his latest venture is a stonking, furious, wibbly-wobbly wig-out. If his previous incarnation could sit, after a fashion, alongside the freak-folk hippies, Tomlinson’s latest guise, as befits something named after a 1870 tome of doom and gloom, seems intent on annihilating that scene and obliterating any pastoral postcards that may remain. Thoughout, the musicians outline the tenets of their psych-rock manifesto like men possessed ( Kommuneand The Burning Mountainstand tall), though there are still a few moments (such as Dry Leaves) when Tomlinson revisits his twangy folk-rock past. See tchantinler-recordings.com JIM CARROLL

Download tracks:Kommune, The Burning Mountain