Review: Tender, heartfelt, longing and packing sonic elements that can make even the most lovelorn and hopeless start swooning with the thought of what might be still to come for them. Canadian troubadour Patrick Watson's latest is nothing if not dripping in emotion, and that's not just a reference to his soft, thoughtful and thought-provoking voice. In many ways it seems impossible that such a gentile record can bowl the listener over with such force. But once you hit midway-point stunner "Melody Noir", with its subtle brass and "La La" chorus, it becomes clear that it's not only possible, but apparently rather easy for the songwriter in question. None of which is to say this is some wet Wednesday, mind. On his sixth long-form outing, Watson is nothing if not the experienced man who has seen it all.
Review: How in the name of all that's understandable can you follow up a Mercury Prize-nominated album that looked at the state of the world and answered all our concerns and questions about that in one fell swoop? How about by offering a heavier, louder second chapter, picking up where the last left off and yet emphasising different focal points? That seems to be the idea with "Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 2". It's Foals at their rockiest and most raucous, with the likes of (aptly-titled) "Black Bull" distorting the vocals and raising the grit on those guitars to 11. Things start off far more sparse, with "Red Desert"'s desolate synth keys invoking some dystopian wasteland. Perhaps the next destination for our civilisation. Whatever you think, from there we call at head-nodding, funk-driven rhythms, tear-inducing piano solos ("Ikaria" is pure beauty) and a finale of epic, soaring, hypnotic art-pop.
Review: It's not hard to understand why people so often ignore album release blurb. Sales-y, hyperbolic, and on more than the odd occasion rather poorly written, it's hardly required reading in order to get the most out of the record. That is unless it's Big Thief's 'Two Hands', a collection of music that genuinely makes more sense when you know the back story. For one thing this long form offering is arriving just months after its predecessor, which is always either the sign of a band that don't need big ideas to facilitate rapid-fire output, or a band that have so many big ideas they literally can't stop the momentum. This is a case of the latter. Timescale aside, "Two Hands" genuinely feels as though it was born in the Badlands, epic songs that invoke endless vistas across barren settings in a way that makes you feel as small as you actually are in a global context. Like cosying up in a log cabin away from the chilly endless dark of a desert night.