Other pop CDs

Other pop CDs: Art Brut | Common | The Coral | The Duke Spirit | Sleater-Kinney | Four Tet

Art Brut

Bang Bang Rock'n'Roll
(Fierce Panda)

The love of rock'n'roll does strange things to people. In the case of Art Brut singer Eddie Argos, it makes him write arch but intense songs about forming a band, about one's little brother discovering rock'n'roll, about how modern art 'makes me want to rock out'. It makes him declare in song that he has stopped reading the NME, title albums Bang Bang Rock'N'Roll and -contemplate 'Moving To LA'. There are other themes on Art Brut's debut, like lost or fumbled love ('Emily Kane', 'Rusted Guns of Milan') and fighting, but mainly Argos functions as Mark E Smith or Jarvis Cocker once did, as a scabrous wit. Argos isn't quite as poetic or eloquent as either of his influences, but it's hard to dislike this record, even after you've noticed it shares a certain flavour with early Nineties indie berks the Sultans of Ping FC.



Chicago native Common is one of the mainstays of socially conscious hip hop, a movement whose engaged lyrics and musicality exists in contrast to the mainstream. On his sixth album, Common's rhymes enjoy the platinum fairy-dust treatment courtesy of his old friend, production wunderkind Kanye West. The result is a passionate powerhouse of an album, one that received full marks from hip-hop bible XXL, only the fourth album ever to do so. West lifts Common's wordy, worthy rhymes about suffering and love into the pop stratosphere. It's a process that begins with the soul and filtered funk tour de force 'Be (Intro)', the excellent single 'The Corner', the startling 'Testify' and barely lets up until the final secret party track. A couple of missteps mar this eloquent class act: 'Love Is' is a bit much. And getting children to declare they want to be astronauts and Presidents ('It's Your World') is never as moving as it sounds in theory.

The Coral

The Invisible Invasion

The Coral's weakness has always been the incoherence in their music, a rattling, Liverpudlian, multi-sourced psychedelia. It's magical when it works, and laboured when it doesn't. That, and a production rate which suggests their not-so-good ideas get equal billing with their useful tunes. But this fourth's album has a clear-eyed flow that's in marked contrast to the rushed hodgepodge that was Nightfreaks and the Sons of Becker, their album of last year. Producers Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley of Portishead have had a remarkable effect. Paradoxically, the focus and cohesion of The Invisible Invasion has restored the Coral's sense of mystery. 'Cripples Crown' and 'A Warning to the Curious', for instance, are delicately haunted pop. This isn't quite the masterpiece everyone has been waiting for, but it is nearer the mark.

The Duke Spirit

Cuts Across The Land


Thank goodness for Liela Moss, singer in the Duke Spirit, a much-needed feminine undertone in the current blare of Britpop Mk II. Her deadpan yowl is a little Nico, and a lot Polly Harvey, and her band rattles along sulking and reverberating, like the Jesus & Mary Chain and Mazzy Star were still fashionable influences. The Duke Spirit aren't a great band yet - songs like 'Bottom Of The Sea' are a little leaden, and the 12 tracks here get somewhat samey after a while. But there's considerable originality lurking just below their influences, like the anatomy of love in the lyrics of 'Win Your Love' or the compulsive riddles that make up the title track.


The Woods

(Sub Pop)

Long before they needled their way back into fashion, Sleater-Kinney were trading post-punk guitar licks and surging rhythms, making unlikely pop from barely suppressed tension. The Washington State trio are now signed up to Sub Pop, the venerable Seattle label, and their seventh album sees them turning ferocious. The Woods belies producer Dave Fridmann's normally twinkly haunted glen sound and instead makes it a wild place, where Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker's guitars can tear chunks out of one another and Janet Weiss can make like Led Zeppelin's John Bonham. Tucker's voice remains a unique siren-cry, and 'What's Mine is Yours' is a user-friendly dance-along glam racket. But now Sleater-Kinney feel free to sound like the Pixies at their filthiest ('The Fox'). 'Let's Call it Love', meanwhile, is a feral sludge-blues that bucks and writhes, soloing, through 11 minutes.

Four Tet

Everything Ecstatic


This is Kieran Hebden's fourth album as Four Tet, and with each he has come further from the urban pastorals of 'folktronica', a genre he pretty much invented. The accurately named Everything Ecstatic pivots on percussion: the sound of up-to-the-minute drum machines gone wildly native, of Third World traffic jams segueing into devotional wig-outs, of hip-hop derived psychedelics. The emotional monoculture of chill-out aside, electronic instrumental music has ceded much commercial ground to guitars in recent years, with the loss of the kind of dancing that engages the soul as much as the sinews. Tracks like Four Tet's 'Smile Around the Face' and the six-minute epic 'Sun Drums and Soil' are two big-hearted, loose-limbed sweat extractors that prove once again what a major talent Hebden is.


Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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Article image
CD: Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock'n'Roll

(Fierce Panda)

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20, May, 2005 @1:04 AM

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