Julianna Barwick’s Nebula: the best of the week’s new music

Julianna Barwick | Lindstrøm | Shock Machine | Jhyve | Wildhood


Julianna Barwick
Nebula (Dead Oceans)

Julianna Barwick creates music that makes you feel so floaty and transcendent that a government committee is trying to outlaw it as we speak. There really isn’t much to Nebula: just a woody synth motif and a gentle accumulation of half-awake vocals, like a choir of Julee Cruises trapped at the bottom of a cave. Yet for all this track’s casual otherworldliness, the moments when Barwick’s voice cracks or she sings very slightly off-key are crucial, imbuing it with a fragile humanity. Putting the real into ethereal? Oh, if you must.

Closing Shot (Smalltown Supersound/Feedelity)

Unfeasibly handsome Norwegian Hans-Peter Lindstrøm is renowned for providing cosmic dancefloor thrust to everyone from Todd Rundgren to Japanese noisemongers Boredoms. But Closing Shot might be his finest slice of ecstatic space disco since he invented the genre with I Feel Space back in 2005. It’s so redolent of carefree summer fun that before it reaches the breakdown you’ll be slicing up limes and trying to make everyone do the lambada.

Shock Machine
Shock Machine (Marathon Artists/House Anxiety)

Ye gods, a Klaxon! With the band’s third album – yes, there was a third Klaxons album – disappearing into a wormhole somewhere between Atlantis and Interzone, singer James Righton (AKA Mr Keira Knightley) has understandably chosen to distance himself from his new rave past with a yacht-rock makeover. The multi-tracked falsetto nods to Dennis Wilson and Tame Impala, but overall feels a bit calculating and hollow. By the end, you’re yearning for a few sirens and some knock-off JG Ballard slogans.

LucifHER (Awesome Music)

Unless you count R Kelly’s icky predilection for comparing sexual acts to various components of a buffet luncheon, the confessional R&B genre isn’t renowned for its nifty wordplay. But Jhyve’s pun game is strong, with LucifHER positioning him as the unexpected lovechild of the Weeknd and Tim Vine. “How do you impress a temptress?” wonders this Auto-Tuned John Hegley, and it’s the mark of a pretty great song that his tortured rhyming comes off as endearing rather than excruciating.

Baggy (Woof Music)

Rapper, actor, comedian, celebrity darts player… is there anything Jordan from Rizzle Kicks can’t do? Well, on this evidence, his reinvention as a Jamie T-style punk raconteur is proving a little hard to swallow. Staring out heavy-lidded from the cover like a minor member of A$AP Mob, Jordan would like it to be known that he’s taken a few drugs in his time. Generously, he’s keen to share his findings: chiefly that there’s not much solace in “the search for mum and daddy in the bottom of a baggy”. As a chorus, it’s not quite “mama do the hump hump”. But then what is?


Sam Richards

The GuardianTramp

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