Rock/Pop

 

This week's rock and pop releases reviewed

WILD BEASTS

Two Dancers Domino ***

It’s just more than a year since Wild Beasts’ debut album appeared and they’ve come much further than one might expect. Not that Limbo, Pantowas the immature sibling of Two Dancers, but its OTT theatrics were a huge part of its charm. The early exuberance is bleached here, and the absence takes some getting used to. Still, it’s an assured follow-up that rubbishes the notion of the difficult second album. Hayden Thorpe’s falsetto eerily echoes The Associate’s Billy McKenzie, but even this is kept in check. The newfound reserve serves the lyrics better, and the arch one-liners sound less try-hard. This Is Our Lotand Two Dancersimpress, but is this taming of Wild Beasts a good thing? Mostly, but if they combined the energy of their debut with the depth the follow-up, their third album could be a classic. www.wild-beasts.co.uk SINÉAD GLEESON

Download Tracks: Two Dancers, This Is Our Lot

VARIOUS

Twenty First Century Twenty First Year Luaka Bop ****

David Byrne had an idea . . . Actually, scratch that, David Byrne always has ideas, but the Luaka Bop label remains one of his better ones. Housing both Byrne’s solo adventures (beginning with 1989’s delightful Rei Momo) and assorted sounds of the global underground, Luaka Bop is a musical clearing- house that rarely disappoints.

Over the years, enthusiastic and erudite compilations, excellent retrospectives (Shuggie Otis, Tom Ze), and introductions to new acts (Susanna Baca, Jim White) have seen Luaka Bop develop and maintain impeccable credentials. This compilation celebrates 21 years with fantastic contributions from all of the above. Any label that can give shelter to Shuggie Otis’s fuzzy, freaky Aht Uh Mi Hed, Os Mutantees’ sultry Baby, and the Malian funk of Moussa Doumbia on Keleyadeserves all the kudos that are going a-begging. www.luakabop.com JIM CARROLL

Download tracks:Shuggie Otis, Aht Uh Mi Hed; Os Mutantees, Baby; Moussa Doumbia, Keleya

QUANTIC & HIS COMBO BARBARO

Tradition in Transition Tru Thoughts ****

Will “Quantic” Holland has always been a magpie when it comes to collaborations. After various Afrobeat and deep-soul dalliances, Holland’ moved from Brighton to Cali, Columbia, where he discovered a whole new planet of sound. On Tradition in Transition, Holland pairs what he heard in Columbia with the funk and soul that have always shaped his work. His Combo Barbao are a huge assist in this regard, with players of the calibre of Freddy Colorado, Malcom Catto and Alfredo Linares, and vocalists Falu and Kabir, helping pull psychedelic grooves, deeply soulful soundscapes and slinky rhythms together.

Watch out for the Tradition in Transition: A Postcard from Cali. This documentary on Holland’s adventures is a companion piece to the album from Limerick film- maker Brian “B+” Cross. www.quantic.org JIM CARROLL

Download tracks: The Dreaming Mind, Pt 1, Undelivered Letter

A-HA

Foot of the Mountain Universal ***

When it comes to pop music, A-Ha remain a force to be reckoned with worldwide. With synthesisers back in vogue, the Norwegians are attempting to show the kids how it’s really done on their ninth studio album. Foot of the Mountainsees Morten Harket and friends dabbling in their electropop sound of yesteryear, but it’s not necessarily chock-full of cheery, lighthearted pop capers. These songs are mostly moody, reflective ballads that could use some vitality. That said, the strange, spacey gurgle of Start the Simulatoris attention-grabbing, as is the softly sung title track, and Harket’s choirboy croon is as sweet today as it ever was. A perfectly likeable collection of mid-tempo pop songs, but certainly not the apex of A-Ha’s career. www.a-ha.com LAUREN MURPHY

Download tracks: Start the Simulator, Foot of the Mountain

WHITE RABBITS

It’s Frightening TBD ***

The second album from a Missouri six-piece now billeted in Brooklyn kicks off with an almighty clatter of tribal, warrior-like drums on Percussion Gun, making you sit up and pay attention to its quietly desperate tale of relationships falling apart. While the rest of It’s Frighteningdoesn’t quite hit the same highs, there’s enough good stuff to convince you that White Rabbits are still progressing at a considerable rate. The album is produced by Spoon’s Britt Daniel (and yes, there’s more than just a Spoonful of influences on show), and the band play to their strengths with pounding pianos, woozy jangles, jagged guitar riffs and copious amounts of arch, moody passages. Overall, these Rabbits are at their best when packing a cocky punch. Those moments rather than the more reflective ones work best. www.myspace.com/whiterabbits JIM CARROLL

Download tracks: Percussion Gun, Lionesse