A massive week in new music this week, dont judge by the fact that we have only delivered three New Borns, sometimes ‘life’ gets in the way, so we offer less words not less music. Along with the delivery of JAMC first album in nearly 2 decades, Methyl Ethel squashing the idea of ‘difficult second album’ or the unwavering brilliance of Lusine’s ambient wonder, this was an epic week in new music. Lets not forget the new deliveries from last week including TEMPLES, GRANDADDY, THE WAIFS, THE MAGNETIC FIELDS & SLEAFORD MODS.
Album Title: Damage and Joy
Label: ADA / Warner
Genre: Alternative Rock / Noise Pop
Moments Of: Pity Sex, My Bloody Valentine, Spiritualized
Stand Out: Always Sad, Song For A Secret
After 18 years of silence, The Jesus and Mary Chain return to an indie rock landscape they helped create. Although Damage and Joy firmly re-establishes the Scottish band’s strong pop writing sensibilities, subpar lyrics and a bloated album length keep it from being the entirely triumphant revival it wishes to be.
The Jesus and Mary Chain’s textured and melodic guitar work is rightfully placed at the forefront of many of the songs on Damage and Joy. Whether that be the psychedelic garage freak-out of ‘Get on Home’ or the chipper solo that closes out ‘The Two of Us’, William Reid’s fretwork remains catchy and interesting throughout most of the album. This is expertly demonstrated on album highlight ‘Song For A Secret’ which builds from rousing power-chords into a feedback drenched wall of sound reminiscent of their breakthrough album Psychocandy.
Damage and Joy’s weaknesses become apparent in the latter half of the album, particularly in the final four songs where poor lyrics overpower otherwise decent songs. ‘Black and Blues’ repeated refrain of ‘yeah it’s just a bitch’ quickly grows tiresome and irritating, while ‘Facing Up To The Facts’ trades in juvenile sexual lingo that is awkward and discomforting. A small stain on an otherwise successful comeback, The Jesus and Mary Chain would do well to trim back their indulgences on a potential next album.
Title: Everything Is Forgotten
Label: Dot Dash
Moments Of: Wild Nothing, The Shins, Francois & The Altas Mountains
Stand Out: Ubu
In the small hours of the morning, the bane of shift workers and cat owners alike, Methyl Ethel’s brand of insomniac pop shines through the cracks of the approaching loss of mental asthenia. On their sophomore drop Everything Is Forgotten, not a second or sound goes to waste and we’re left with an overwhelming sense of excitement for the young Perth trio.
Everything Is Forgotten is one of those releases that seems to have been hanging over our heads for far too long. Now that it’s finally arrived, we’re happy to report that the wait was not for naught. Weaving together threads of new-wave, art-rock and surrealism, the band build neatly over their previous work without ever falling into needless repetition (“Weeds Through The Rind” being perhaps the only exception).
Synth-pop flavours kick off the release on “Wine Drive” before delving quickly into one of our favourite singles of recent times “Ubu” (yes it’s still stuck in our heads). “Femmes Maison/One Man House” delves slowly and delightfully into chaos, before gently swirling around the psych-laced ballad-y “Act of Contrition”.
Pulling from so many textures, historical contexts and influenced continually pushes the album forward into new and more exciting territory. In doing so, it largely avoids the common trap of sounding disjointed, rather the whole album genuinely comes off as a whole and complete work of art. It’s an exciting time for an exciting band, and we’re eager to hear what they serve up for us next.
Album Title: Sensorimotor
Label: Ghostly International
Genre: Ambient Electronica
Moments Of: Bonobo, Floating Points
Stand Outs: Canopy, Just A Cloud, Won’t Forget
Lusine, or Jeff McIlwain, has been making his style of ambient electronica for well over a decade, and while the audience for that type of sound were lacking in the pop-centric nineties or the rock and hip-hop core of the 2000’s, it seems that his album Sensorimotor and its looping, textured beats are right where they need to be in space and time.
Lusine’s meticulously curated beats feel lived in. Each probe of sound, and surface it bounces off is organised, much like anyone’s living space. Because of that, Sensorimotor can hardly be called a venture into “experimental” ambience. It’s a controlled environment. And masterfully controlled at that. The opener ‘Canopy’ for example, consists of deftly chime that echo, before rescinding at the sound of a successive chime which inherits its space. It’s all planned out to make the album feel full and satisfying.
You can tell McIlwain has been doing this for years, edging towards perfection. The problem is though that when you’ve perfected something, there is no need to deviate. Then what occurs is something albeit pleasant to listen to, but which is failing to push boundaries, something indicative of the genre. That’s why the vocal tracks really stand out on Sensorimotor. McIlwain’s beats foster vocal interaction. ‘Just a Cloud’ for example, featuring Vilja Larjosto has a tempered beat with cut and warped vocals that are eerily similar to Crystal Castles ‘Untrust Us’. Larjosto reappears on ‘Won’t Forget’, another song were McIlwain’s prowess as an editor is apparent.
All in all, Sensorimotor is a great album. It’s abundant, organised and has many of the staples that make for great ambient music. But for Lusine, someone who has near-perfected the craft, there’s a missed opportunity for exploration.