From the Arctic Monkeys to Joan Armatrading: The weeks new CD releases revealed

May 13, 2018
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ALBUM OF THE WEEK

Mamas Gun Golden Days (Candelion)

Named after Erykah Badu’s classic soul-funk album, this London quintet plough a resolutely late 1970s/early 1980s dance groove that will have older soul boy and girl listeners digging out their penny loafers and white socks.

Lead singer Andy Platts’s smooth tenor voice recalls the great Bobby Caldwell or Kool & The Gang’s James “JT” Taylor, particularly on the uplifting and infectious You Make My Life A Better Place.

Elsewhere, stabbing brass (courtesy of Amy Winehouse’s former horn players), the soft sigh of Philly-style backing vocals and chattering wah-wah or phased guitar, à la Isley Brothers, lend vintage grace to tracks like On The Wire and Diamond In The Bell Jar. This is the sound of the summer, without question.

Joan Armatrading Not Too Far Away (BMG)

An astonishing 42 years after the release of Love & Affection, the calmness and sense of space that defined Armatrading’s unforgettable hit still endure.

Not Too Far Away, her 21st album, is a mesmerising exercise in simplicity and grace, the accompaniment knowingly underplayed; the melodies largely the essence of simplicity.

Nevertheless the restrained passion in the lyrics of tracks such as the superb No More Pain (“This pain is my protection, it tells me to run”) carries a hefty emotional charge and some of the jazz rhythms, particularly on the outstanding Invisible (Blue Light) recall Paul Simon at his finest.

All the elements gel best on the title track, where the joy and fragility of love are summed up in one great line: “In our cardboard mansion, we will laugh at the rain.”

Arctic Monkeys Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino (Domino) – out now

On what is basically an Alex Turner (below) solo indulgence, the band’s front man imagines he’s a lounge singer on the Moon delivering a series of half-spoken, half-sung monologues over easy-listening music.

Full marks for adventure and ambition but his plan, possibly inspired by the success of Father John Misty’s sprawling but brilliant Pure Comedy album, fails dismally in the execution.

The accompaniment is either too slight or too baffling, the jaded lyrics not nearly sharp or interesting enough and actual tunes almost completely absent.

Tracks such as Golden Trunks improve a bit on repeated playings but few listeners will cast their chips at this casino more than once.



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