There are some weeks where we have almost too much to report, be it singles or albums flying into the upper reaches of the chart, or established acts slowly losing their entire audience off the back of some 'experimental' whim. Our acts from last week, however, all performed as expected, with These New Puritans and Beach House both missing the top 40 and Eels nestling in snugly just outside the top 20 (which was a minor surprise all things considered). This week is a bit of a bumper edition, with no less than three (THREE!?) albums gracing the nation's favourite feature. Eyes down, look in...
IRM by Charlotte Gainsbourg
We've been thinking a bit about context and its relation to how you consume music by someone who has, on the surface at least, not brought a whole lot to the table. This album was written, produced and performed by Beck, whilst Gainsbourg's last album, 5:55, was written, produced and performed by Air (with Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon). Now, if we were talking about a pop star such as Kylie it would all be "she's a puppet", "these songs are only good because so and so did them", "it's not true art". Then we read in an interview that Gainsbourg felt threatened by the legacy of her late father that she was too scared to write her own music and you know what, we fell for it and we love her even more now. IRM may have Beck's finger prints all over it (no bad thing of course), but it works because some of the songs could only be performed by Gainsbourg and that's when this whole writer/performer thing becomes moot.
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Teen Dream by Beach House
There Is Love In You by Four Tet
Let's start with Teen Dream, which has been permanently lodged in our ears since we were lucky enough to hear it a few months ago (when you're important like we are, you too can hear music before everyone else (we stole it)). Though not a huge departure from their last album - Victoria Legrand's vocals still sigh beautifully, the whole thing floats around like wisps of smoke - this time they've remembered to bring the tunes, with each of its ten tracks carrying a deliciously woozy melody. There are moments when everything comes together so perfectly (the bit where 'Silver Soul' melts into 'Norway', for example) that you feel like you want to break down and cry for weeks.
There Is Love In You is the first album under the Four Tet moniker since 2005's Everything Ecstatic. In that time, Kieran Hebden, for it is he, has produced albums with avant-garde drummer Steve Reid as well as an EP with Burial. You'd think this would make There Is Love In You a big mess of impenetrable 'mind' music, where as it's actually his most accessibly record to date. With tracks road tested at his club residency in Dalston it has moments of euphoria reminiscent of early-90s dance ('Love Cry', 'Plastic People'), whilst still displaying his fondness for subtle, intricate moments of beauty ('Angel Echoes', 'This Unfolds').
'Marlene' by Lightspeed Champion
The string-drenched 'Marlene' is the first single from Lightspeed Champion's second album, Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You. As with most things Mr Champion does, we were unsure at first. Seriously, his last album was a major disappointment to us for the first five months and then we couldn't stop listening to it and by that point no-one else cared because they'd all moved on. However, 'Marlene' reveals itself to be properly amazing, complete with skipping strings, a chugging riff and a brilliantly gonzo guitar solo that seems to erupt from nowhere. Altogether now, "stop being cool". It also has a very funny video, which can be seen here.