The Listening Post: albums round-up

A quick shufty round a few new releases.

Savages

Here we are: a fresh dawn and yet another bunch of hopefuls dropping their offerings at our feet – like the cat proudly bringing home a half-chewed mouse – and asking us to rub their ears in a pleasing manner.

Norwegian hopefuls Suaropod kick start proceedings with their poppy punkisms. Roaring at the Storm is suitably polished – as many things Scandinavian tend to be – but its relentless perkiness wears thin rather quickly. The brooding bassline of ‘Winter Song’ and Shonen Knife-style thrash of ‘Headphones’ briefly divert but if, like us, you’re left thinking ‘Oh, this is a bit like The Wannadies. And this one reminds me of The Vines – but not in a good way’ then best sit this one out and wait for the weather to pass. (DB)

On Jet Plane and Oxbow, Shearwater use their ninth (ninth!) LP to go ‘back to the future’ (they even teased the album on Facebook with a photo of a DeLorean) for eleven songs heavily indebted to the serious 80s pop of heavyweights like Peter Gabriel, A-ha and Tears For Fears. Now, we like a quick burst of ‘Sledgehammer’ as much as anyone, but it’s not what floats our luxury yacht on a daily basis, and thus our enthusiasm for Jet Plane… is tempered somewhat by troubling flashbacks to chinos and big hair choices. The slightly bombastic air (‘A Long Time Away’ has Jonathan Meiberg do his best Morten Harket impression) extends to lyrics that “Piss on the world below,” but things remain pretty abstract despite all the “blood on the beach.” The dedication to the form is admirable (period kit and all), climaxing with period ballad ‘Only Child’ but the odour of pastiche is never that far away. (DB)

The title of Adam Scott Glasspool‘s I Welcome The Flood is probably the antithesis of what the people of Carlisle and Yorkshire are thinking at the moment. Everyone may be quite sick of the rain but Glasspool’s self-described second EP of acoustic ‘alt-folk’ may calm the waters a little. The strong comparisons to Bombay Bicycle Club’s stripped back, predominantly unplugged record Flaws offer a signpost, and feels influenced by the D.I.Y bedroom solo scene, headed by the likes of Mercury nominated C Duncan. Glasspool’s delivery has a sense of being like a first demo or guide vocal, but on tracks like ‘Pace Car Driver’ they meld perfectly with the delicate guitar, to produce an air of quiet serenity. With a healthy dose of melancholy, his hushed voice disguises a great longing just under the surface. (James Auton)

It was easy to be suspicious of Silence Yourself, the debut from Savages. Too knowing by half, too laboratory like in its execution, it seemed more designed to catch critical favour than engage audiences – although an audience they undoubtedly found. You might throw the same accusations at this follow up, were it not for the sense that Jehnny Beth and her three companions seem intent on proving their doubters wrong the hard way: by raising their game. From the pulsing gallop of ‘The Answer’ to the splintering ‘Mechanics’, this is an album of real passion, albeit one distanced by steely determination and dark desires.

It’s either brave or foolish to declare ‘I Need Something New’ when you’ve built your sound on such familiar foundations – and older heads might still struggle to get past the Siouxsie-isms of the vocals – but the anxious drums and squall of guitars do batter the listener into submission eventually. Is it hard to love Savages? Perhaps – but Silence Yourself challenges you to find fault in its execution. (DB)

About Douglas Baptie (178 Articles)
Editor at Words & Guitars. Lives in Carlisle, far away from 'that London'.
Contact: Twitter