Single Review – Pale Waves – Kiss

Following their EP All The Things I Never Said, released earlier this year, Pale Waves’ new single Kiss is another shot at their 80s sound, radiating energy and shimmering with synth. The song kicks off with an excitable riff, which is reflected in the bright, euphoric chorus, made up of instrumentalism equally as ecstatic and catchy lyrics. It’s sweet liveliness and joyous innocence seeps through in every note, and the subtle flamboyance makes it the perfect summer song. I can see the Manchester quartet bouncing around to this – as well as to all their other delightful numbers – in front of crowds of people doing exactly the same.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Johnny Marr – The Tracers

After announcing his third album as a solo artist last year, Johnny Marr has dropped the first single from the record to be released later in 2018. The Tracers begins with the chant of “hoo hoo” to the growl of guitars, making way for the entrance of moody vocals. The track has a mysterious ghostliness to it thanks to the distortions, but it still remains a fairly no-nonsense rock, easy to just have on in the background. The track and album may come in the wake of ex-band-mate Morrissey’s recent releases, but The Tracers puts Marr in good stead for producing a track list much more rich and enjoyable.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Everything Everything – Breadwinner

Off the back of a strong fourth studio album in A Fever Dream, one of Manchester’s and indeed the UK’s quality groups Everything Everything have released a new EP in A Deeper Sea and the single single from this is ‘Breadwinner’. In this track recorded during sessions with producer James Ford for their last album, they tackle male identity and mental health. Leading from cascading, buoyant piano chords come Jonathan Higg’s rapid, operatic delivery of their typically obtuse and unavoidable lyrical messages. Into this mix arrives ringing, siren-like guitars and a myriad of shifting electronica to form a instrumental and marked change of tone. This is a song as good as any from their last album and it’s hard to think as to why there was no place for it, though they certainly made the right choice releasing what is relentless track.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Johnny Marr – The Priest

Around winter time spoken word tracks can bring to mind uncomfortable moments of insincerity topped off with ill-fitting knitwear and false tears but Johnny Marr’s new single ‘The Priest’ might just be about as far from insincere as it’s possible to get. Documenting the grim truth of a life lived on the streets of Manchester, with added rectitude bought by the voice of actor Maxine Peake, Johnny Marr’s new single ‘The Priest’ feels like a modern gospel that cuts deep. The tracks accompanying video follows the story of a homeless girl, played by Molly Windsor, in a simple and yet emotive film. Labelled ‘Priest’ because she doesn’t want the drugs or alcohol that a pair of guys offer her, she spends the track trying to find something to eat and a place to sleep as she lip sinks Peaks words. Painting strong social imagery in a narrative that is as captivating as it is heartbreaking ‘The Priest’ suggests Marr’s third solo album and collaboration with Peake, due for release in the spring, will be worth the wait.

Hayley Miller

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built the Moon? Review

Who Built The Moon? Is the album that Noel Gallagher had been a long time poised to produce since leaving Oasis. The album where he was free to be himself, experiment and show to everyone that the portrayal of a frustrated singer-songwriter held back musically by his frontman brother was an accurate one. His debut solo outing was a light change of tone and a completely solid album, his second a mere afterthought on the back of a promising collaboration with Damon Albarn. We now reach 2017 and it’s more than eight years on from you know when; with the brother still arguing via the press and every indie haunt and pub blasting out Oasis tunes… it’s time to hear something different.

With booming saxophones, plunging rhythm sections and stomping percussion, ‘Holy Mountain’ has all the energy and infectiousness of a Rock Pop track that has a sing-a-long quality via its bombastic sound and simple lyrics. It is certain that no track by Noel has ever been so catchy nor featured basic Pop elements and it works well in that sense; undoubtedly becoming a gig favourite. It is not evidence of the great innovation or shift hinted at initially, but a dose of Glam Rock is something unexpected and it works as what it is. The whirring and ringing guitars that open ‘Its A Beautiful World’ echo and reverberate outwards as do Noel’s vocals. The bass line and percussion offer a intricate rhythm and generally this track is a good example of the subtleties of production and arrangement Noel has decided to consider. It is a shimmering yet smooth track that combines elements of electronica and dream pop. This track does sometimes trips over its own transitions though, but it is refreshing to see an act as established as Noel experiment a little. ‘She Taught Me How To Fly’ is another heady and open track which is sees Noel use his new found Lacey rhythms and hooks to best effect with a buoyant arrangement facilitated by ringing guitars in an outwards echo and his vocals fading out in a similar fashion. Clicking percussion and electronica drive the song on as do the focus bridge sections which provide a fast-track to the hazy mock-shoegaze of the chorus. It is a well arranged and produced track that allows Noel to sound like he’s actually enjoying himself and it makes for a warm and uplifting track if not an groundbreaking one.

With ‘Fort Knox’ Noel begins to hint at the new styles and approaches he’s long promised to take in the album’s opener. The Kanye West influenced track opens with a lintany of psychedelic strings and sitars before ringing distortion and punchy percussion drives the song on along with joyous backing vocals. These combine in unison to deliver an ever more theatrical sound which bursts towards a fruition with the rapid tempo change of the string sections. Noel’s few words are repetitive and merely serve as a tool of the dominant rhythms of the track for what is a dynamic and imaginative piece of music. ‘Keep on Reaching’ shows Noel trying to add a bit of soul to his music and adopts a versatile vocal supplement with brass bursts and cool, easy backing vocals. The bluesy and steady stomping beat of ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ is in effect Noel’s best attempt of ‘Come Together’ and is a fine one at that. It’s slick and and varied enough to keep thing interesting with the close vocals and distant backing vocals keeping the listener engaged. ‘Black and White Sunshine’ has enough guitar bursts and basic pitch shifts to be a perfect piece of psych-pop that reminiscent of many British bands of emerging in 2012/13 and is effortlessly delivered track nonetheless. ‘The Man Who Built The Moon’ hits hard with this gathering waves of rhythm and the guitars strike to leave their mark as do Noel’s lyrics which are his most clever on the record. The unceasing rise of the strings add to the peculiar sense of theatre to the track which is one of the best on the record.

It has been an intriguing listen and though he sometimes fall wide of the mark, Who Built The Moon? is an enjoyable and easy listen. The soundtrack experience of producer David Holmes makes for brilliantly poised dramatic arrangements and in any case Noel seems to have a lease of life and energy not seen before and it runs throughout the track for all to see. Some tracks either see him try to hard to produce an elaborate track when a simple one would do and at other times he comes up with sounds already fully formed and explored. The delivery is immaculate however and when it works on this album, it sounds like Noel has made something truly superb. A thoroughly enjoyable album with flashes of something even better.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon? = 7.5/10

Owen Riddle

Morrissey – Low In High School Review

Its practically impossible not to have at least heard of Morrissey at this day in age. Be it for his ingenious work in The Smiths, or in his 11 solo albums, or just being a loud and proud, outspoken guy. Which is why, for such a hyped up man, it’s a bit of shock that his most recent album Low in High School picks up on the same mediocre and frankly weird standard that World Peace is None of Your Business left us with.

We started the Low in High School Journey with Spent the Day in Bed. I remember listening to this song, after half-and-half dipping my toe into some of Morrissey’s work beforehand, and wondering what all the fuss is about. It flops over wavering keys and never changes…just kind of lingers like a bad smell. Hopes were lifted with Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up on The Stage. Boosted by more exhilarating instrumentalism, his fiery political messages are strong, and clever, and provides something different and interesting as a break from the instrumental incessance the remainder of the track list revolves around.

The album starts well, with My Love, I’d Do Anything for You, featuring fierce guitars, thunderous percussion and snapshots of brass. It’s a good start that experiments with instrumentalism, and has no particular structure, keeping it a pretty captivating number. I Wish You Lonely follows a similar kind of vein, fizzing and wailing with quirk. Jacky’s Only Happy appears next, and then Morrissey finds himself in a rut of boring melancholia.

Boring melancholia, and odd notions thrown in there for…well, I’m not quite sure why. The political angst that comes out in songs like I Bury the Living – one of the more listenable angry ballads on the album – doesn’t sit well next to the suggestive nature of In Your Lap; the two tracks uncomfortably placed side-by-side on the track list. It feels like all the power behind I Bury the Living is lost amongst the creepy sexual imagery. And it’s not the only time this kind of theme pops up either – unsurprisingly, it’s a key part of When You Open Your Legs, as well as Home is A Question Mark.

The album closes with Israel. Sure, it remains to be as pedestrian as much of the rest of the album, yet it is a poignant closer. A building piano ballad to close an album of bizarre techno experimentations and lustful ideas – a stirring political tune is what is needed to round off a track list of oddities.

Morrissey – Low in High School: 5/10

Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Its A Beautiful World

Noel has been doing a lot of talking since the release of his last single and lots of people have been talking about him, but he’s been releasing music y’know? The latest single from his November 24th release Who Built The Moon is ‘Its A Beautiful World’ and it continues the reimagined sound he’s so far pursued with this record. The whirring and ringing guitars that open the track echo and reverberate outwards as do Noel’s vocals. The bass line and percussion offer a intricate rhythm and generally this track is a good example of the subtleties of production and arrangement Noel has decided to consider. It is a shimmering yet smooth track that combines elements of electronica and dream pop. This track does sometimes trips over its own transitions though, but it is refreshing to see an act as established as Noel experiment a little.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Morrissey – I Wish You Lonely 

‘I Wish You Loney’ latest track from Morrissey’s soon to be released album ‘Low In High-School,’ due November 17th, see’s Morrissey once again twisting his iconically styled, equal parts eloquent and scathing, lyrics around some sharp-edged rousing synths. Contemptuous lines like; ‘Think of yourself only, of everything you demand, you want and you need, and to hell with everyone else,’ seem to possess that perfect upturned nose and brutally honest air that always makes Morrissey’s writing, whether you adore it or not, unavoidably addictive.  
Hayley Miller