Album Reviews

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Bastille’s third mixtape is sure to cure your heartache

Bastille are back in force, with their newest mixtape, VS. (Other People’s Heartache, Pt. III). Containing nine new tracks, it is their latest indie rock offering, which sounds like it has been created via a synth machine circa 1983, the Park End cheese floor, searing underground rap and Classic FM. Sounding eclectic? It is. To be honest, I’d be disappointed if frontman Dan Smith and the band came up with anything different.

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Machine Head’s Bloodstone & Diamonds is a new metal jewel

Boasting 12 songs that last over 70 minutes in total, Bloodstone & Diamonds is the Machine Head’s longest album by over 10 minutes. On a first listen, it may all be too much to take in: the melodies may start to blend into one another, the various ripping guitar solos may become indistinguishable, and the band’s trademark aggression may seem diluted. In other words, it may come across as the trash metal equivalent of a sumptuous Christmas feast: it satisfies intensely, but leaves you stretched out on a couch promising yourself never to eat anything ever again. Yet the album’s triumph is that it is not simply long for length’s sake: it is also the most varied album of their 23-year career. (more…)

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A perfect debut album; Alexander Hartley is blown away by Hozier’s self-titled first offering

What would the perfect debut album be like? Well, it would have to have a couple of slow ones, a couple of heavier ones, two or three catchy ones and the ‘One That Everyone Knows’. There would be variety, but also a distinctive flavour that you can recognise in each song. It would be well balanced and produced, expertly finding a balance between punctilious cleanness and the occasional blast of grunge. Finally, it wouldn’t hurt if the lyrics were thought through to a pitch of near-poetic intensity (and no, that doesn’t just mean throwing in the odd quote from Macbeth: I’m looking at you, Marcus Mumford). (more…)

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An album held back by its own effort; Robert Selth reviews Caribou’s ‘Our Love’.

Canadian auteur Dan Snaith, who now records as Caribou, is nothing if not meticulous. His elegant, peculiar electronic creations are among the most intricately designed pieces of music in contemporary dance, precisely arranged and fine-tuned to the point of obsession. His latest album, Our Love, is something of an apotheosis: warm, intimate, and melodic. It nonetheless impresses overwhelmingly as a triumph of craftsmanship, a perfect system of pulsing bass, flickering percussion, and gleaming synths. It’s an engaging and sometimes engrossing record. Unfortunately, the album rarely manages to completely transcend its obvious constructedness. It has become a cliché to observe that Snaith took a PhD in pure mathematics at Imperial College, London, and that his music sounds exactly like what you’d expect a man with that background to produce. But Our Love genuinely does feel a little sterile in its careful, consistent detail, and by the time it finishes, you’re impatient to listen to something looser, more organic, more spontaneous. (more…)

The Oxford Student

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