London Grammar – Truth Is A Beautiful Thing (Dew Process/UMA)
Is this UK trio one of the surprise act of the past few years? They have been gradually making inroads into our consciousness with their celebrated trip pop since 2013. Just ask their loyal fan base what they love most about London Grammar and they might say Hannah Reid’s soaring voice. It’s fair to say I jumped on that bandwagon earlier in the year, when London Grammar teased us with their first single Rooting For You. This song, my first introduction to Reid, blows me away. Her soulful qualities on this track can easily rival the Adele’s of this world.
This album is a lot more intense than London Grammar’s previous release. It is somewhat personal and impressively executed with Reid’s emotive and amazing lyrics. Reid’s gift as a songwriter is definitely her ability to bring her own experiences and the people she meets to London’s Grammar collaborative table. Rooting For You, Big Picture and Oh Woman Oh Man are my pick as standouts.
Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song (Nonesuch/Warner)
There is something very laid-back about The Black Keys frontman, Dan Auerbach’s new solo album. It sounds and feels quite nostalgic built around Auerbach’s memories of a period growing up listening bluegrass music. Not only that, it is fuelled by the styles and influences, of his many notable collaborators for this album, which include guitar icon Duane Eddy and Dire Straits Mark Knopfler. Shine on Me, King of a One Horse Town and Malibu Man are my favourite tracks.
Katy Perry – Witness (Capitol Records)
Is 2017 the end for Katy Perry, who almost ten years ago was pops new sensation? In almost every way Perry won me over with her 2008 album One Of The Boys and now it seems my love affair with her is on the rocks. The general consensus is that her new album Witness has moved beyond just being a collection of standout hits to what is an assemblage of personal songs. Personally I miss the sounds of guitars from her previous albums as compared to the sounds of synths and electronic beats awash on Witness. That in itself is not a bad thing, I am a fan of electronic pop, it’s just that her surprise move away from the norm has caught critics and some fans off guard. Not even her lead single Chained To The Rhythm nor the release of her controversial video of herself being prepared as a Masterchef meal in Bon Appetit can save this mess that is her fifth album Witness.
Perry though seems quite content despite all the recent criticism leveled at her. She has changed her appearance (gone are the dark long locks) in an attempt to reinvent herself and I respect her for taking risks musically, but in the long run this may prove pivotal in how we response to any future releases. On a positive note I am fond of Miss You More from Witness.
Lorde – Melodrama (Universal Music)
I will leap from genre to genre in search of great music and my sweet Lorde you have done it again! Lorde’s highly anticipated album Melodrama has finally arrived, its 11 tracks – including her thumping lead single Green Light – all have the attention to detail and innovation that her debut album Pure Heroine produced. I’m not sure how Lorde will reassert herself this time around? Her breakthrough single Royals from 2013 was out of this world and after only a handful of listens her new material is as self-aware as anything on Pure Heroine.
According to Lorde, Melodrama was inspired by her first real breakup. In short, Melodrama is Lorde’s take on her transition from adolescence to adulthood. It’s also moody and atmospheric and draws on new sounds like her emotionally charged piano driven tracks Liability and Writer In The Dark. Everything about Melodrama, from Green Light to Perfect Places, is perfect. Honourable mention to Homemade Dynamite as my favourite track. Don’t be surprised if Melodrama becomes the record of the year!
Photo Credit: The header image is a collage of all four albums I have reviewed above. They are courtesy of Drew Process/UMA, Nonesuch/Warner, Capitol Records, and Universal Music. I make use of them under the rationale of fair use because no free equivalent seems to exist and they serve as the primary means of visual identification at the top of my article dedicated to the reviews in question. I am not the uploader of the You Tube clip embedded here.