Single Review – Manic Street Preachers – Distant Colours

As we approach the April 13th release date of the Manics’ thirteenth studio album Resistance Is Futile, the ever-present Welsh rockers have released a second single in ‘Distant Colours’. It is another foray into their standard, earlier sound with this track not sounding out of place on Gold Against The Soul from 1993. With brushing percussion and light riffs against James Dean Bradfield’s subtle vocals, the track then opens into lighter shades with broad guitars and more powerful vocal for the chorus. This track does not surmount to anything special or surprising like Futurology, but remains faithful track unto themselves if nothing else.

Owen Riddle

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Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending Review

14 years ago, the Glaswegian quartet Franz Ferdinand revitalised the idea of indie-disco with the uproarious Take Me Out; a decade-defining track, filled to the brim the now-iconic hooks, legendary lyrics and oomph of power-hungry bass. All those years on, and the now-five-piece have never really come close to matching the spectacular heights of their sophomore single, with their fifth LP, Always Ascending, offering only making a half-hearted attempt.

The album kicks off with the title track, unassuming as it whirs into action, before bursting into a thumping mix of synth, repetitive lyrics and some shuffling percussion. This – alongside many of the other tracks – focus on the ‘disco’ part of ‘indie-disco’, finding footing in the more mechanical side to their sound. Lead single Feel the Love Go hinted at this new direction from the off, with it’s best quality being the sizzling, bass-y synth that underscores much of the song. Lois Lane, despite its pessimistic lyrics, is perked up by the irresistible 80s snap off bass, before transforming into an enflamed, grittier chant towards the end. While much of the indie scene use synths to create ambience, or exciting drops, Franz Ferdinand make the mechanics they’re own, by bleeding disco with no-nonsense rock to make for an iconic, interesting sound. Although, the sound does feels muddled at points, the ideas a little lost in translation.

The album also gets a bit political at times. Track list highlight Huck and Jim notions towards the divide in American and British politics boosted by shuddering bass and catchy lyrics. Darker themes are also explored elsewhere in the moodier tracks, like The Academy Award and Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow, the wispy, monotone tracks showing another diverse side to the band’s style, but also falling flat. The former is repetitive and boring. The latter is just boring.

Once again, Franz Ferdinand haven’t reached the brilliance of their previous material, though there are some noteworthy songs to listen out for. However, the claim to be always ascending, in this case, is unfortunately not true.

Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending: 5/10

Ellie Chivers

This Weeks Music Video with Kendrick Lamar feat. SZA, Muse, Paramore, Sting and Shaggy, Royal Blood & Millie Turner

Single Review – Peace – Power

The epitome of vanilla Indie Rock are back with their follow up on 2015’s Happy People. Their second album was not as well received as their debut and you got the sense that a burgeoning ‘Indie 3.0’ had died an uneventful death in the space of two years. Now will they adapt or defiantly plod along with jangling riffs and slurred vowels? With their new single ‘Power’, you get the sense it is the latter. With the same rhythm sections of three and five years ago along with the same lost lyrics, they attempt to strike a expectant and triumphant feel in some attempt to believe their own hype. One notable improvement since their debut has been that their songs have been produced and presented a lot better, but you can only polish a piece of rust so much… we await a bright idea from Peace.

Owen Riddle

Rae Morris – Someone Out There Review

Rae Morris is a name that has bubbled under the surface for a while. A frankly beige debut – Unguarded – released in 2015, was met with mediocre success, with singles simmering at the C List of prime-time Radio 1, and a smattering of advert backing tracks to her name. It seems that come 2018, however, the songstress from Blackpool was bored of bubbling. New record Someone Out There is fluorescent and fiery, its cheeky and incredibly sharp. It doesn’t bubble, it explodes.

It’s an album that doesn’t sit still.

The first single, Reborn, hinted to the new experimental pop avenue right away, with a skittish hook and ethereal synths, while bold follow up Do It ditches the quietness of her first LP to form unfiltered pop perfection, with Dip My Toe following the same kind of lyrical ideas. Other singles Atletico (The Only One) and Lower the Tone are rapturous anthems as well, though the latter begins as a serene robotic croon for affection before launching into a web of synth hooks and relentless bass. The album bought us the first hearing of Rose Garden – a huge asset to the track list – combining the electronica of songs previous, as well as the balladry of her freshman album, to bring lyrics about the confusion and disorientation of panic attacks to life. As well as being an incredible song on its own, it’s meaningful, and expertly crafted.

Unguarded’s musical themes do pop up on occasion. Single Push Me To My Limit is an odd opener to the album; an gentle, airy synth-built track that gives no hints at the uproarious pop direction some of the upcoming numbers follow. The title track is largely Rae’s vocal balanced on top of piano and slow percussion, and is a softly motivational letter to the lonely. Dancing With Character is an emotional conclusion about a widower, still incorporating the mechanics of the pop-y tunes but using it subtly to make for a graceful, authentic closer. Although the more anthemic additions are definitely the best part of the album, the call backs to Rae’s original sound form a bridge between the first and second offering. It’s also nice to have some variety; the album and its songs are so unpredictable, even the calmer songs build excitement – you never know what’s coming next.

Someone Out There is a wild ride, especially considering the somewhat lacklustre debut. So please, Radio 1, put Rae on the A List.

Rae Morris – Someone Out There: 8/10

Ellie Chivers

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