Other pop CDs: Sigur Ros | The Dandy Warhols | Elbow | David Gray

Other pop CDs: Sigur Ros | The Dandy Warhols | Elbow | David Gray

Sigur Ros

There is a lot to be said for the pleasure of the expected in music. As with cars or beans, brand consistency helps sell records, too. Icelandic quartet Sigur Ros are on their fourth album of aerated crescendo-rock sung in a made-up language. Consequently, they are rather dab hands at conjuring a gauzy feeling of euphoria out of guitars, gobbledegook and effects. Their last album, ( ), was, however, rather turgid, as though they had exhausted their methods. Fortunately, Takk (Thanks) is an easier listen, with cogent songs ('Milano' is a standout) and confident shimmers to the fore. The band's emotive repertoire isn't vastly extended; indeed, a steady diet of wistful euphoria can get wearing after a few tracks. But for an instant fix of tongue-tying prettiness, it'll do nicely.

The Dandy Warhols
Odditorium or Warlords of Mars

Although the cash must have been useful, Portland, Oregon's Dandy Warhols have been trying to outrun their best-known hit, 2000's 'Bohemian Like You', for some time. Their fifth album finds the rock'n'roll equivalent of Scooby Doo's gang in self-aware mood, coaxing songs called 'Smoke It!' from their hip, neo-psychedelic, parallel headspace. (The recent rock-doc Dig! did, however, make the Dandies look positively normal compared with mad peers the Brian Jonestown Massacre.) Pointed and jaded, 'All the Money or the Simple Life Honey' could be this album's 'Bohemian', all singalong chords and sneery cool. But they don't make it easy going for the uninitiated, front-loading Odditorium with wig-outs. Perseverance pays off here, though, as the Dandies's mantric charms remain intact.

Leaders of the Free World

Inspirers of bands like Editors and even Coldplay, Elbow are a stubborn eminence grise in British rock. They've never quite had the hits to make them household names, but their taut, emotional hold on everyday dramas are admired among their peers and beyond. Album number three finds singer Guy Garvey unlucky in love, but artistically the richer for it. He's been open about the fact that Leaders is, in great part, about Radio 1's Edith Bowman, but the universals Garvey wrests from the now-defunct romance are leagues apart from your average celeb shag story. Dignified and gruffly soulful, Elbow effortlessly trounce Coldplay's last effort here; expect to find this album high on many end-of-year lists.

David Gray
Life in Slow Motion

Much of the current dull pop status quo can be laid at the door of David Gray and his breakthrough hit of 2000, 'Babylon'. Maybe that nice Norah Jones might have made it without him, but Gray unquestionably opened the floodgates for the umpteen men grizzling along to guitars that recently resulted in James Blunt being number one. Two albums into his mega-success, however, and the professionally doleful Gray seems to be relaxing. Instead of his customary meat-and-spuds angst, there are little classy strings and pianos here and there, offsetting the grate of Gray's holler, and even the odd country sway. Springsteen looms large on the single, 'The One I Love', but more startling is the latterday Nick Cave turn Gray takes on 'Ain't no Love'. Who'd have thought it?

Best of the rest

Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley
Welcome to Jamrock
(Universal Island)

Unexpectedly versatile album from one of the great man's sons.

Yin Yang Twins
United State of Atlanta

Sexually graphic hip hop, doing very well in the States.


Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

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