Gothenburg’s electro-pop quartet are embarking on the release of their fifth studio album with the release of their new single ‘High’. ‘High’ will most likely feature in the follow up to 2014’s Nabuma Rubberland and is a chilled, steady track with hazy electronica, a warping bass line and a sharp beat accentuating it. Yukimi Nagano’s softly spoken vocal matches the musical furniture and from this subtle foundation, she can easily go on to reach high notes without sacrificing the soft edged, nudging progression of the song. An accomplished and well produced track from a group with a lot of confidence in their ability. It remains to be seen how this sound develops though.
This Weeks Music Video with Beyoncé, Lana Del Rey, The Weeknd, Laura Marling, Little Dragon, Spoon, ZHU and NAO
The ever emerging talent of Maggie Rogers has continued to grow from her viral introduction to the world less than a year ago. A five track EP has been produced in a relatively short space of time since then with the famous ‘Alaska’ single taking centre stage. The single has delicate beats and clicks with gently warping electronica which go on to merge into one as the verse bridges to the chorus. Once there, a muffled, but heavier beat gives the song a catchy quality without sacrificing the delicate and natural sounds that are reinforced through her wispy melodies. With ‘On + Off’ we hear her develop her sound even more with a song that features bolder samples and piano loops which are woven together into a melodic fabric with a subtle, but charged rhythm driving it. Maggie sings with a almost a folk swoon that exudes calm and control to balance against a busy instrumentation.
The lightly whirring electronica of ‘Dog Years’ bounces off her vocals generating a symmetrical sound and this is the basis for the gradual flourishing of the song in the choruses. Though it’s more typical of a sophisticated contemporary Pop song, it still demonstrates her knack for production and her graceful delivery. ‘Better’ is a refrained track featuring multiple layers of wiry and whirring electronica arranged in an airy, chilled fashion which serves as the perfect environment for Maggies relaxed vocals. ‘Color Song’ is mostly an a capella song with an earthy and calming feel as Maggies multiple tracks vocals gently sweep across each other. She’s certainly proved herself to be an accomplished producer with an ability to fuse opposing sounds together in a seemingly effortless way. Introverted songwriting mirrors the imagery she uses to channel her lyrics and with these aspects she moulds songs that are multi-dimensional and functional. No long a viral sensation, but a proven talent.
Lana Del Rey has released her first material in sixteen months with her new single ‘Love’. Her impending and as yet untitled fifth album is expected to be announced soon. Ultraviolence had flashes of inspiration, but for the most part it stuck with the cinematic themes that were the mainstay of her last album Honeymoon. Though both albums were expertly executed, another similar effort would be wearing it a little thin. With ‘Love’ Lana certainly maintains a cinematic aesthetic, but with a hint at an expansive and atmospheric sound. The echoed drums and lightly drawn out production meets with Lana’s wistful, quivering vocals. There’s scope for a natural development to her sound, but also scope to repeat what she’s already done with this track. We’ll have to wait and see how the album falls into place later in the year.
Whether it is the crowd’s roar of their earnest rock anthems, or the lyrics to the anthems themselves, Elbow have always been a band to unify the masses with their track lists. Since their big Mercury Prize win in 2008 with The Seldom Seen Kid, their growing fan base has become accustomed to the sentimentality of Guy Garvey’s intricate lyricism and affectionate backing tracks, and not much has changed in 2017’s Little Fictions; a soft deliberation of love found, kept and lost.
Little Fictions begins with Magnificent (She Says), the first single to be dropped in prep for February’s release. Through and through it is quintessentially Elbow, from the swells of orchestra in the chorus and simplistic guitar riff that carries the track, to the unmistakable Northern twang in Garvey’s voice. The lyrics are so heartfelt and genuine; much like so many other Elbow tracks, we are introduced to characters we begin to feel real connections to because of the sheer artistry in the words. Usually these lyrics are what stand out most from an Elbow track, however track two, Gentle Storm, tells a different story. Despite drummer Richard Jupp’s departure from the band last year, the percussion is sounding stronger than ever. A Gentle Storm pretty much sums up the whole feel of the track, with silky and sweeping chords adding emphasis to Garvey’s vocals every now and then, which, too, is given a velvety touch in the echoic effect put on them. The percussion elevates the track into something that would’ve been very throwaway without it. The same sort of instrumentalism features on K2 and Little Fictions, giving the track list a wistful undertone. It’s nice.
Though the album is mostly filled with slow, easy-going ballads, it does have its livelier moments. All Disco, while not particularly up tempo, is given boosts of energy in its surging of instruments and backing vocals. Firebrand & Angel continually builds upon itself with shuffling drums, a poking bass, and pretty orchestral backing. Little Fictions is hoisted at the end with an inflamed drum section and twirl of synths. Even the more depleted tracks are enraptured somewhat by the intensely warm vocals of Guy Garvey. In the undulant mix of humble and fancy, solemn and excited, there is noticeable momentum. The songs naturally glide into the next. At no point did I feel bored, or that the album comes to a standstill – in so many aspects, this album is beautifully done.
From the dismal tales of “missing you so violently” in Montparnasse, to the liberating actions of “throwing both her arms around the world” in Magnificent (She Says), Little Fictions takes us on a smooth journey. In many ways, it only reiterates what Elbow have been mastering for years, but carry on doing it, because it’s fab.
Elbow – Little Fictions: 9/10
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