Review: By the time they headed into the studio to record Protection, Massive Attack were still riding high on the success of their peerless debut album, Blue Lines. While the resultant set, released in 1994, does quite hit the same dizzying heights, it remains a thoroughly great album. Of course, we all know the highlights by heart - the stoned bounce of "Karmacoma", evocative downtempo bliss of Tracey Thorn hook-up "Protection", string-drenched lusciousness of "Sly", and the gentle dub-house soul of the Horace Andy-voiced "Spying Glass", for example - but even the forgotten album cuts (see "Weather Storm" and "Better Things") have aged remarkably well. If you don't own a copy on vinyl already, you definitely should.
Review: Not many people would have put a bet on The Libertines making a third album, yet here it is, as bold as brass and portraying a band in the kind of rude health that would have been considered unthinkable a decade or so ago. Producer Jake Gosling, most famous as an A-list pop producer, may have polished the ditties of the Wilfred Owen-referencing 'Anthems For Doomed Youth' to a sheen, yet the band's ragtag charm and romantic bluster is still present and correct, and indeed the irony may be that beyond all the hyperbole and drug-fuelled acrimony of their heyday, the band appear to be firing on all cylinders now as never before.
Review: Kicking off with recited verses from Romeo And Juliet and barely scaling the drama down from that point onward, 'Hopeless Fountain Kingdom' is a relentlessly far-reaching album from the Jersey born artist formerly known as Ashley Frangipane. Yet in a pop landscape increasingly dominated by radio-ready blandness and empty soundbites, these soul-searching and angst-ridden ditties bear genuine emotional heft to match their super-producer gloss, arriving at an arrestingly synth-driven sound more Depeche Mode than Ellie Goulding, and dissecting her trials and travails in a manner that suggests a fearless and feral talent built to last. A widescreen tour-de-force from a very 21st-century pop star.
Memories Of Home (feat BJ The Chicago Kid & Samora Pinderhuges)
Show Me That You Love (feat Jill Scott & Samora Pinderhuges)
My Fancy Free Future Love
God Is Love (feat Leon Bridges & Jonathan McReynolds)
Review: Hip hop giant Common remains hugely prolific despite a career spanning the best part of thirty years. Let Love is his 12th studio album and third in three years. It pulls in collaborators like Jill Scott, Swizz Beatz and A-Trak, but retains his trademark sense of storytelling. As the title suggests, it's a lovestruck affair with golden production and gently lilting beats that make for a touching listen. Shouting out his respect to Cardi B, ASAP Rocky, and Tyler The Creator along the way, this is an album of pure positivity, a place of light in these dark times, and another winner from this legendary artist.
Review: Tangerine Dream's seminal 1976 album finds itself getting a welcome gatefold vinyl reissue. Marking the beginning of the group's move away from experimental to more overtly melodic sounds, and features the urgent tones of the title track, the dramatic, quasi-medieval melodies of The Big Sleep In Search Of Hades, the swelling strings and cinematic atmosphere of "3am At The Border Of The Marsh From Okefenokee" and the pastoral prog of "Invisible Limits".
Review: The Chemical Brothers are back with their 10th studio album (mixes and soundtracks not withstanding), and they're sounding especially fired up. The widescreen stadium psychedelia they've made their own spills out in abundance across "No Geography", but it's also matched with a feverish energy. The more up-tempo tracks, like "Gravity Drops" and "Eve Of Destruction", spit and snarl with the best of their classic, down and dirty dancefloor material, but there's plenty of space for the starry eyed songwriting they've made their own in more recent times. Just cop "The Universe Sent Me" and be immediately transported to a festival field, where you'll no doubt be catching The Bro's this summer.
Review: London alt-rock trio Yak have revealed their much desired follow-up to their debut album, Alas Salvation. With new and old members jostled in and of the band during this album's rocky inception (including Tame Impala's Jay Watson), a rotated cast eventually ironed out its crinkles, and with the help of former Bjork and Django Django album producer, Marta Salogni, Yak's difficult second album, in 10 hectic days, was achieved. With both NME and Q magazine's tipping their nod of approval Yak's way, the steely, blue-eyed defiance of the trio dismiss any notion of the tired cliche that guitar music is a bygone thing. The freshest second album since Kasabian's Empire, Tame Impala's Lonerism and Bloc Party's A Weekend In The City.
Review: Given that eight years have passed since French techno stalwart Agoria released an album, it's little surprise to find that "Drift" sees him taking what he describes as "a new musical approach". On the accompanying press release, the Gallic veteran has described the set's sound as being inspired by "sitting on your sofa between your guilty pleasure and your tasteful opinion". In other words, it's a more open-minded and eclectic affair that mixes accessible, laidback vocal numbers (see the sparse tech-house-pop of opener "Embrace (feat Phoebe Killdeer)" and cheery chugger "You're Not Alone (feat Blase)" with nods towards wonky, off-kilter electronic hip-hop (STS hook-up "Call Of The Wild") and a swathe of heavier, club-leaning cuts inspired by his love of techno and Italo-disco.
Know About We (feat Deepee, Littlez, Knine, Sleeks, Inch & Swift)
Nervous (feat Rage)
Chase & Status & Blossom
Know Your Name (feat Seinabo Sey)
Review: Chase & Status are easily among that small band of drum & bass artists who transcend the genre. It's for this reason that the release of this fourth album - their first since 2013 - is big news not just within the D&B community, but the wider dance music scene, too. So is it any good? In short: yes. While it may not tickle the fancy of some underground junglists, few acts are quite as good at creating the kind of energetic, hot-stepping D&B and bass music anthems that sound just as good blasting out from car radios as they do over club soundsystems. With an impressive cast-list of guest stars - Emile Sande, Kano, Craig David, Novelist and Shy FX included - lending a hand, Tribe could easily end up being the crossover dance album of the year.
Review: Co-frontman of The Last Shadow Puppets and former frontman of The Rascals, Miles Kane, presents his third solo full length album and first since 2013. His grace takes cues from Iggy Pop and David Bowie, no doubt and there's a punkish, disco dance appeal to title track "Coup De Grace" which leads fittingly into the post, electro punk of "Silverscreen" and then into the sing along melody of "Wrong Side Of Life". It's a three-part sequence which delivers the album's best moments. The scoundrel-like pretence in Kane's Merseyside music is here to be heard in full, and is his ode to the area's best if every present in the Beatle-dom of "Shavambacu".