The blog has been rather lacking in album reviews and picks over the past month or so, all down to my lazy neglect I’m afraid. So, it’s a pretty opportune time for the ever reliable Johnny Feeney to step in and fill a void with another guest post. On this occasion, as before, he’s here with three albums that have caught his attention. With that I leave you in the capable hands of Johnny.
Foals – ‘Holy Fire’
Foals continue to develop for a fuller, more expansive sound on this their third album, moving further away from the angled indie-rock of their earlier work. It feels like it’s been designed perhaps for bigger live venues than where they currently find themselves playing. Having a bona fide radio hit in ‘My Number’ will certainly help them reach the wider audience they seem to be targeting.
With tropical rhythms providing the backbone throughout, there’s a real swagger to tracks such as the funky ‘Late Night’, the colossal ‘Inhaler’ and ‘Milk & Black Spiders’, with its brilliant use of steel drums. The slower songs have never been their strongest suit, and the closing pair of ‘Stepson’ and ‘Moon’ do nothing to reverse that trend, leaving the album peter out somewhat tamely. However, don’t let that take away from what is otherwise a highly accomplished and assured album.
Eels – ‘Wonderful, Glorious’
LA alt-rockers Eels’ tenth studio album sees front man and creative force Mark ‘E’ Everett in a cheerier mood than usual. Everett’s distinctive, gristled vocals are ever present with a gritty defiance on show in songs such as ‘Bombs Away’, the excellent ‘Stick Together’ and on the gentler ‘On the Ropes’ – (“I’m hurting bad, and fighting mad, I’m not knocked out, but I’m on the ropes”).
The smouldering ‘Peach Blossom’ is an album highlight with its scuzzy guitars and clattering drums. Everett allows himself a brief lapse into more familiar, lovelorn territory with the morose ‘True Original’ but quickly returns to a more upbeat outlook, closing proceedings with the beautiful ’I’m Building a Shrine’ followed by the joyous title track. Wonderful indeed.
Foxygen – ‘We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic’
The second album from Californian duo Foxygen, We Are the 21st Century… is tightly packed full of breezy, catchy psychedelic pop songs, perfect for a bit of easy summer listening. There’s a real lo-fi, ramshackle feel to some of the production on here with various instruments popping up intermittently (Richard Swift of the Shins produces). The sound is reminiscent in places of early MGMT, especially when vocalist Sam France goes into falsetto mode.
The chorus on the rousing ‘On Blue Mountain’ bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds’, which may be one of the reasons why it’s so catchy but it’s also a fantastic rock song. There are directional changes occurring throughout which always leaves the listener guessing – ‘Shuggie’ varies wildly in the course of three minutes and the title track starts off as good time rock’n’roll before evolving into a sort of hands-in-the-air funereal wail. A highly enjoyable listen that flies by in under 37 minutes.