ADRIAN THRILLS: Oh yeah! Adele’s favourite Brooklyn rockers are back
YEAH YEAH YEAHS: Cool It Down (Secretly Canadian)
Verdict: Simmers nicely
PIXIES: Doggerel (Infectious)
Verdict: Rock trailblazers back on form
CRAIG DAVID: 22 (BMG)
Verdict: Bangers and ballads
When Adele picked her eight Desert Island Discs in July, one surprise selection stood out. Among the expected jazz and R&B standards by Nina Simone, Gabrielle and Destiny’s Child, there lurked a 2003 single, Maps, by arty Brooklyn garage band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Adele was glowing in her praise of powerhouse singer Karen O, describing her as ‘a dragon having a tender moment… it blew my socks off!’ It’s easy to see why: Maps helped to make the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a force in alternative rock alongside fellow New Yorkers The Strokes in the 2000s. It was also a heartfelt love song that has comfortably stood the test of time.
Karen — the ‘O’ stands for Orzolek — channels both that inner, fire-breathing dragon and her more sensitive side on Cool It Down, the trio’s first album in nine years.
In the interim, they have focussed on solo projects (with Orzolek recording with dance musician Danger Mouse), but it’s as a collective that they work best.
Fans expecting songs dominated by guitarist Nick Zinner’s power chords could be in for a surprise. Like the group’s 2009 album It’s Blitz!, the onus is largely on electronic instruments. Initially, there’s also a focus on ballads rather than noisy rockers.
Karen — the ‘O’ stands for Orzolek — channels both that inner, fire-breathing dragon and her more sensitive side on Cool It Down, the trio’s first album in nine years
The album opens, on the Bowie-like Spitting Off The Edge Of The World, with drummer Brian Chase’s slow, lumbering beats, before Karen launches into a duet about climate change with male singer Perfume Genius. The following track, Lovebomb, is all dreamy synths and whispered vocals.
The sluggish opening is a smokescreen, though, and Cool It Down quickly develops into a wonderful pop album.
Built around the kind of chunky synthesiser chords that were once a mainstay of Pet Shop Boys singles, the disco-flavoured Wolf injects pace.
The catchy Different Today — framed by Liam Gallagher’s producer, Andrew Wyatt, and the strings of the Urban Soul orchestra — is bright, breezy and optimistic
As befits a band with roots in Brooklyn’s trendy art-rock scene, there are knowing nods to the borough’s pop past. The album title is stolen from a Velvet Underground song, and the funky Fleez pays homage to 1981’s Moody (Spaced Out) by Bronx-based indie band ESG.
There’s also a touching tribute to The Four Seasons on Burning, a dance number inspired by a fire that gutted Orzolek’s apartment, destroying laptops and cameras but leaving a treasured photo of her parents untouched. Taking its musical cue from Beggin’, a Four Seasons single that became a hit on the northern soul scene (its original writers are co-credited), it also allows Zinner to finally unleash some signature guitar work.
Thanks to its slow-burning start, Cool It Down is an oddly sequenced comeback. But, with its eight songs ultimately flying by in 32 minutes, it’s a lean, powerful return. Adele is clearly an excellent judge.
Thanks to its slow-burning start, Cool It Down is an oddly sequenced comeback. But, with its eight songs ultimately flying by in 32 minutes, it’s a lean, powerful return. Adele is clearly an excellent judge
The Pixies were one of the great guitar bands of the 1980s. The Boston quartet’s brilliant second album, Surfer Rosa, established the quiet-loud-quiet blueprint that inspired Nirvana, and they’ve since become an unlikely reference point for young British stars like Nilüfer Yanya.
New album Doggerel, which follows a joyous Hyde Park show with Pearl Jam in July, is an attempt to recreate past glories — and, despite a few Pixies-by-numbers moments, it’s their best since a 2004 reunion.
Original bassist Kim Deal is missed, but Paz Lenchantin is a rock-solid replacement, and the original line-up is otherwise intact.
‘My favourite rock and roll is sealed with a kiss,’ sings Black Francis on Get Simulated, hinting at the dark romance at the heart of the band’s appeal.
A teenage superstar when his debut album, Born To Do It, topped the UK charts and helped him crack the States, Craig David remains a stalwart of British dance music
There’s A Moon On, about the lunar cycle’s effect on human behaviour, was a highlight of their summer tour. Dregs Of The Wine is a distant cousin of 1989’s Debaser.
Guitarist Joey Santiago serves up familiar surf-pop licks on Vault Of Heaven, but there are welcome detours, too. Country-rocker The Lord Has Come Back Today features a nod to Neil Young’s Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black), and the title track is an offbeat, jazzy shuffle.
A teenage superstar when his debut album, Born To Do It, topped the UK charts and helped him crack the States, Craig David remains a stalwart of British dance music. He returned to the top of the charts with 2016’s Following My Intuition, and 22 consolidates his resurgence.
Titled in honour of Born To Do It’s 22nd anniversary, his new album plays to familiar strengths, flowing like one of his popular radio shows or DJ sets
Titled in honour of Born To Do It’s 22nd anniversary, his new album plays to familiar strengths, flowing like one of his popular radio shows or DJ sets. With finger-picked guitars and jittery electronics, Teardrops is a throwback to his old garage sound. DNA, made with Swedish duo Galantis, is a traditional house music banger.
With one eye on the dancefloor, the other is on romance, with the singer’s playful streak keeping his slower songs — sometimes only just — the right side of schmaltz.
The mood mellows on the languid ballad What More Could I Ask For? Acoustic closer Maybe is a nostalgic pop song about the one that got away.
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