This week’s tracks reviewed: Sade, Iceage and Years & Years

The queen of dinner-party soul returns, Sky Ferreira joins the Danish post-punk group for their ‘sell-out’ single, plus Radio 1’s house band are back

Iceage ft Sky Ferreira
Pain Killer

After all the early interviews in which they came across as a next-gen Refused, few would have seen Iceage’s Sky Ferreira collaboration era coming. But then, like the Ramones, beneath their brutal abrasions the Danes have always maintained a canny songwriting brain. Pain Killer proves quite how canny. A twisted jazz horn section fed through a two-stroke Kawasaki, it skids all over the shop without once losing its angelic poise. They’ve finally sold out, and it’s marvellous.

Preach to the Converted

Are Cabbage terrible? The question never quite resolves itself. They’re either the glorious gibbering dog-children of a thousand Clinics or the Facebook rants of a regional branch of Momentum set to Neils Children offcuts. Here they’re playing their best suite: oddball Birthday Party garage-psych, and doing it with filthy glee.

Years & Years

It’s been – wait for it – years and years since the former house band of Radio 1 released an album. In the meantime, Olly Alexander has clearly been listening to Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You on repeat. He has absorbed all its lessons, improved on them, and thrown in some early Timberlake for good measure. The video appears to have cost millions of pounds and is portentously subtitled “Part I”. Yes, it’s a full-on major label comeback assault.

Flower of the Universe

Voices age. Compare Liam Gallagher’s 90s burr to today’s dentist drill whine. But Sade’s seems to stay exactly the same. Perhaps that is because Sade is not a real pop singer, merely condensed nostalgia for our parents’ record collections formed into a mirage of the collective unconscious. That would be so typical. The theory is given weight by the fact that this is timeless, beautiful and slightly dreary.

Plan B
Guess Again

Why are rappers so into the common external tariff nowadays? “Breaking out the EU like they in a Mini Cooper”, is Plan B’s Brexit critique, as he rounds on the political classes by flinging out an epic stack of cliches about The Man in a cod Caribbean accent. The Defamation of Strickland Banks famously bucked all expectations, taking him from the gutter of narky UK hip-hop into brassy mum-pleasing soul. Now, even at the peak of the grime revival, this by-numbers dancehall jam can’t quite cut through with either da kids or da consumers. Politics, yeah.

Gavin Hayes

The GuardianTramp

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