Other pop CDs: Animal Collective | My Morning Jacket | We are Scientists | Stevie Wonder

Other pop CDs: Animal Collective | My Morning Jacket | We are Scientists | Stevie Wonder

Animal Collective


(Fat Cat)


Many are calling Animal Collective the new Flaming Lips and it's easy to see why. Their sixth album is bursting with the post-lysergic humanist vibes that made the Lips the feeling rock fan's favourite band. There are elements here, too, of the haunted Americana of Mercury Rev, particularly in Avey Tare's far-away vocals. But Animal Collective are, at heart, a rather different beast from these two indie bands-gone-widescreen. Feels is a joyous romp delivered by a many-headed bunch of weird folk experimentalists called things such as Panda Bear and Geologist. There are whoops and birdsong on 'Grass' in lieu of a chorus, and the distorted ebb and flow of 'Flesh Canoe' recalls My Bloody Valentine's sound collages. Alongside Devendra Banhart's recent Cripple Crow, this lovely record marks the place where the current clutch of US outsider art bands make the acquaintance of the mainstream, and is asked to stick around.

My Morning Jacket



Rejuvenated by a change in lineup, My Morning Jacket's fourth album belies a change in ambition, too. Their first three records brought back to rock a dilatory Southern uplift, big on hair, oceanic guitar jams and questing reverb. Z brings r'n'b, pop and a reggae bounce to Jim James's increasingly concise songs. His Neil Young banshee wail still soars as it did when he used to record in a grain silo, but it sounds like a soul man's on the wordless chorus of 'Wordless Chorus'. While the rhythms here don't make you want to dance quite as much as the band would wish, Z remains an enchanting listen, drawing you into its expansive embrace.

We are Scientists

With Love and Squalor

The Bravery are supposed to be the new Killers - at least, that was the marketing plan. But the new Killers could just turn out to be We Are Scientists, a voluble trio based in New York but forged in higher education in California. The Scientists echo the Killers's winning formula (Eighties pop danceability, shameless melodies, an IQ higher than the rock average) without actively aping it. Their JD Salinger-quoting debut follows up their nagging lead single, 'Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt', with a barrage of songs that are punk-funk at their core, but whose chunky dynamics have much bigger aspirations. It would all be horribly contrived if this stuff didn't tumble out of them so easily, but it does, as singalongs such as 'Cash Cow' attest.

Stevie Wonder

A Time 2 Love


Records rarely live up to the appetites whetted for them over a decade, especially Stevie Wonder records. The man's Sixties and Seventies best is just so good; his latterday albums can, at best, only capture an echo of prime Wonder. A Time 2 Love is no exception. A 15-track meditation on love, it's an improvement on 1995's lacklustre Conversation Peace that boasts around half-a-dozen captivating moments and a fair amount of over-ripe musical sentiment. 'Moon Blue' is an understated, jazzy stealth-killer that buffs the velvet in Stevie Wonder's voice. The funky 'Please Don't Hurt My Baby' thrums with energy. But many of the guest spots - Macca, Prince - don't add much to the material, and Wonder is too keen to pile more and more sugar into the milky tea of songs like 'True Love'.

Best fo the rest

John Peel: A Tribute


40-track salute to the BBC's greatest-ever DJ; his favourite charities benefit.

Boards of Canada

The Campfire Headphase

Creepy electronic Scots sit pretty on easygoing third album.


Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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