Review: We’re All Gonna Die by Dawes

We're All Gonna Die by DawesWell, this was disconcerting. Dawes have traded on heartfelt, if not earnest, tunes, mining from the rich heritage of California folk-rock to deliver tunes of unexpected gravitas. And then We’re All Gonna Die comes along, and it sounds so… slick? Polished? Soulless? For the record, I have nothing against the band’s decision to smooth the edges out – it’s not something I associate with any act losing its grip on what makes it special. Yet, here, I waited for that point when everything makes sense; instead, the songs passed by like a blur, making no impression. Well, some almost did, but not enough to help me make sense of just what this is about. It’s really weird. The lyrics haven’t really changed a lot but the shift in this record means the words lose their punch. For all its good intentions (and perhaps its reflection of where the band is now) We’re All Gonna Die suffers from being forgettable. Considering how Dawes did before, this is a massive letdown. [NB] | 2/5

Review: I Remember by AlunaGeorge

I Remember by AlunaGeorgeIt’s been quite long since AlunaGeorge released Body Music, their buzzy debut – so long that, personally, they have disappeared off my radar. Insert narrative about how the sound they helped set has marched on while they toured and explored their boundaries. (They weren’t exactly gone, but the three years since their debut is a long time in pop music.) Thankfully I Remember doesn’t feel like a celebrated soldier returning to a wholly different world and being all dazed and confused about it: the duo instead slot in as if nothing much has changed. Well, there’s the urge to push their sound, which leads to a slightly scattershot album – tropical sounds and straightforward soul mingle with the expected 80s-90s-now sound they’ve nurtured – and yet it’s satisfying, all of it. “At least,” you go, “the wait was worth it.” I Remember would be a disaster if they stuck to their guns; instead, even if it doesn’t always pay off, their efforts to move their sound meant they haven’t been gone all this time doing nothing. In pop music, that’s important. [NB] | 4/5

Review: Wrapped in Air by True

Wrapped in Air by TrueSwiss electronica duo True finally got a full-length album out, and Wrapped in Air does not disappoint. Granted, it’s not an album that attempts to make an impact upon entry – it probably took me until half the album to realize that there will not be a moment when the record “kicks in”, so to speak. But scattered across its ten tracks are a glittery yet sensible distillation of the posh side of 80s synth pop, with a sensibility that suggests an act that’s not stuck in time, nor bent on mining nostalgia for quick hits. What the album doesn’t have in urgency, it has in immersion: the ten tracks flow almost seamlessly, distinct enough to suggest phases but unified enough to hint at a cohesive whole. Frankly, it’s not what I expected – maybe I came in expecting something more suited for the club, or maybe it’s just my mindset of late – but it is, seemingly, what we need. [NB] | 4/5

“I wanna dance with you, but not for too long.”

“Always (Except for Sometimes)” by Nightman | I might be having another Belgian radio phase. I heard this on Radio 1 (the Belgian one) a few weeks back. This is a relatively old song – last October – from Belgian band Nightman, actually a one-man band manned by Tijs Delbeke. It’s his solo project – he’s normally from the group Sir Yes Sir – and the result, for this song at least, is a bouncy track with a pretty catchy lyric. Apparently this is the second video in a series of twelve, each shot by a different director; his YouTube account is worth a look. And, yes, bounce. Lots of it. [NB]

“Now I finally see what it’s like to love someone like you.”

“Thinking About You” by Marga Lane | Things aren’t going as planned. My laptop’s fan seems to have gone slightly bust; it’s now making a sound, and I have to have it fixed. Great. What about my entries? Here’s me rushing more stuff out. Here’s another one from that backlog on the inbox, from native New Yorker (and Los Angeles transplant, and Berklee graduate) Marga Lane. “Thinking About You” is the first taste off her upcoming EP Undressed, which should drop in December; what we have here is a simple little song, just guitar and her rich voice, hitting all the right buttons. Calms me down (I was on the verge of another breakdown) but I still have to have my laptop fixed. One week. Not good. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)