A debut album, a couple of solo albums from former band frontmen, and a seventh album from a band fighting to state their relevance…
Gaz Coombes – Matador
The second studio album from the former Supergrass frontman is at times sparse, at times bold – but always mature in its pacing. Very much a heart-on-its-sleeve album, it shows what 20 years of songwriting can produce. Many influences are on show here, from The Smashing Pumpkins harmonies and Johnny Marr riffs to Jack White’s new quiff. Melodies teeter on the edger of creation, which is sometimes a frustrating experience, but sometimes is enough to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
This is the fifth album from Animal Collective founding member Noah Lennox. It flashes many other-worldly properties, honed in masterfully to create a beautifully idiosyncratic album. It sounds like Brian Wilson crossed with equal parts The Flaming Lips. Both glitchy and digital, yet organic in structure, it gives more on each listen. Highly recommended for fans of both Battles and Liars.
Rae Morris – Unguarded
Unguarded is the debut album from the Blackpool born singer-songwriter. There are obvious flavours of Ellie Goulding here, with sublime songwriting that only occasionally throws in a few false starts. Essentially this is a pop album (which is by no means a criticism), that trades a certain amount of venerability and beauty for a killer hook and a polished finish.
The Decemberists – What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
The seventh album from Colin Meloy’s Portland indie-folk quintet. Trying to pin down a style for this album seems very much like chasing rainbows. One minute they are an optimistic incarnation of REM, the next they are channelling Paul Heaton (Beautiful South, The Housemartins). As joyful as this album seems at times, it does feel like a collection of singles rather than a complete album. Perhaps it greatest achievement is inspiring more people to hear their earlier work.