The Waterboys: A Rock In The Weary Land (RCA/BMG)

`Like a pioneer who can't find a frontier, like a soldier who can't find the front", Mike Scott has wandered through the weary land and emerged to tell the tale - in words and music, of course. Buskers are frantically brushing off their Fisherman's Blues so they can save up for a cassette to tape the new Waterboys' album; the rest of the world, however, might just pause briefly at Scott's spot and listen for a few moments before tossing a coin and moving on to the next big thing. While Scott's sweeping vision is only slightly faded and worn, songs such as We Are Jonah, Dumbing Down The World and The Charlatan's Lament sound like they've been zapped in from another era, and are trying miserably to mingle undetected among the bright, shiny sounds of 2000. If only Scott really had a time machine - in 1986, this album would have been just what the world needed.

Kevin Courtney

Leila: Courtesy Of Choice (XL)

Anyone who fell for the spectacular organic hurly-gurly of 1998's Like Weather debut should prepare once again to open their arms and greet the cool girl with the chopper. Former Bjork cohort, Leila's warm and bittersweet electronica entices and enthralls in slow, swinging, stinging sweeps. Instead of providing instant gratification, Leila prefers to go all around the block before heading for the house next door. Like the Aphex Twin, one constant comparison point, there is an evershifting focus and a tendency to move ahead of the flow. But unlike the Twin and other techno noodlers, Leila prefers to use colour and shade and fragments of songs rather than simply relying on monochrome beats and moods. From Sodastream to Brave and To Win Her Love, this is music with the next level in mind.

Jim Carroll