Selected Releases: Monday 28 April

Portishead
Third
MP3: We Carry On

The Fall
Imperial Wax Solvent
MP3: Alton Towers

Half Man Half Biscuit
CSI: Ambleside
.

Madonna
Hard Candy
MP3: Give It To Me

Tindersticks
The Hungry Saw
.

Cajun Dance Party
The Colourful Life
MP3: The Race

.
The Roots
Rising Down
.

Someone Still Loves
You Boris Yeltsin

Pershing!
MP3: Some Constellation

.
.South
You Are Here
.

Nalle
The Sirens Wave
MP3: First Eden Sank…

Nadja
Desire In Uneasiness
MP3: Disambiguation

Our Broken Garden
Lost Sailor
.

It was obvious a few months ago that the record of the week would be Portishead’s Third. As many a reviewer has said, quite simply the album does not deserve to be as good as it is. Comebacks rarely are. Third ploughs a neighbouring farrow to the first two records, with beats more upfront, the cinematic strings muted and mutated. Beth Gibbon’s voice is still as fractured as it ever was, tortured, and gossamer-fragile. A real treat to the ears.

Runner-up is more difficult, the superbly titled CSI Ambleside from former John Peel favourites Half Man Half Biscuits has a great shout, purely on the merit of the album title, and some of the track names; National Shite Day, Lord Hereford’s Knob and King Of Hi-Vis amongst the best.

Instead of that, I’ve picked something from almost the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Nadja’s Desire In Uneasiness. Described variously as shoegaze-metal, ambient-doom or more plainly, drone, Desire… comprises five mammoth cuts, each grinding to precisely nowhere near a conclusion. A true meaning of wall of sound, this just sounds huge, whilst at the same time the layers of fog and feedback enduce claustrophobia. A wonderful contradiction, and one that I’m looking forward to revisiting frequently.

Madonna’s latest, Hard Candy, is heavy on the collaborators, and somewhat low on graphic design, that cover is truly awful. Expect the usual polished pop-dance-R&B fluff and you won’t be disappointed. Sadly it’s nowhere near her best stuff, it’s not even close to Confessions On A Dancefloor.

The indie brigade is populated by several releases. From oh-so-quaintly monikered Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, whose second LP Pershing! contains a set of sweet indiepop numbers, worth investigation. Anything named after a teddy bear is a winner in my books, so Nalle (teddy bear in Finnish, apparently) score highly on that front, the music throws a nod in the direction of Joanna Newsom, interesting folk leaning numbers, populated by exotic instrumentation.

Cajun Dance Party annoy me a bit, and I’m not sure why. It’s probably the NME hype. This is another off Bernard Butler’s production line, but its not that great to be honest. South are another middling indie outfit, on a perpetual downward slide since departing Mo’Wax. Don’t expect great things. You should expect great things from Efterklang-associate Anna Brønsted’s Our Broken Garden, whose debut EP Lost Sailor is a collection of beautiful dreampop, not too dissimilar to Mazzy Star. A little gem.

Speaking of indie, can you get more indie than Mark E Smith’s The Fall? They return, recently shorn of the Americans who populated the last release, with their 27th studio LP, Imperial Wax Solvent. I expect anyone who has ever heard a Fall track will know exactly how this sounds.

New! You can vote for the album you think is the best release of the week using the poll on the left sidebar. If the record you want to vote for isn’t listed, leave a comment to this post and I’ll count it.

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