Badly Drawn Boy – Banana Skin Shoes
At the time that Badly Drawn Boy was the toast of British Indie, he was helping set trends rather than follow them. The aesthetic and sound he had helped create were imitated by others, while Damon Michael Bough struggled to avoid repeating himself.
By the time, I personally, lost contact with his work, the singer-songwriter was trying to channel Bruce Springsteen into his own work and failing to land his punch. The 2020 release, Banana Skin Shoes, feels like the work of an unfocused master, rather than an eager novice. It treads the identical pop-indie territory that has been popular with festival-goers in recent years. But, the music serves merely as a swell background, with no cuts nearly as memorable as Badly Drawn Boy‘s best-recognized moments.
Editors – You Are Fading, Vol. 1
Editors are one of the finer bands to attempt to sound like a modern translation of Joy Division, out of the myriad of challenges for this particular crown. They’ve got everything going for them. Their sound is popular, their presence is welcomed at festivals, and they look good in black.
But, with each new release murkier and with more vague hints than its predecessor, the band risks falling into parody. Or, worse still, they end up sounding like computer-generated content based on their own work. This is a pleasant release, but at no point does it leave the listener convinced that they are listening to the Editors, not to a clone-group hired to replace them for a while.
The 1975 – Notes on a conditional form
What’s this mammoth album about? Partly, it’s about being in The 1975, arguably the world’s biggest band, and surveilling your kingdom with empathy and understanding. It’s also about the act of creating vast amounts of music, which often feels more satisfying for the artist, rather than for the audience.
Had you been unfamiliar with The 1975 prior to hearing this release, you’d be excused for thinking that this gargantuan effort could have easily started as a low-key EP, lured away from its original target by the decision to include every one of the ambient jams that the group every produced.
Still, it’s got the potential pop hits that will keep their fans happy. And, yes, cynical as we may have become about pop music and its potential, some of the songs within this collection are down-right gorgeous, and very well produced.
Scarlxrd – FANTASY VXID; WINTER
The dividing line between trap music and modern metal gets harder to read on this release. It’s not easy to tell how good, or how bad this is. But, at least Scarlxrd has swagger and it sounds like music made for the near, inescapable future, rather than a piece of 1970s nostalgia, the scourge of most modern album releases.
Liam Gallagher – MTV Unplugged
Years after witnessing his own band, Oasis perform an MTV Unplugged set, from the balcony section, hidden behind a lit cigarette, solo star Liam Gallagher gets his chance to perform his very own. It is not subtle! Rather it’s acoustic stadium rock.
But, then again, this something that the Gallaghers always excelled at doing. What we’re left with is an emotional, post-victory celebration record, that although sheds no new light on the songs being performed, echoes some of their best qualities.