October 2011, That Dirty Policeman


Nov 17 2011, 14:03

The shadows cast by Ladytron, St. Vincent and M83 from last month ran long into October, but that's not to say that there wasn't anything else worth lending an ear to. A couple of albums that were squeezed out of my September listening were In the Grace of Your Love by The Rapture and Never Trust A Happy Song by Grouplove. Hands up, with the first few listens I thought that The Grace Of Your Love was a shocking mess, with only opener Sail Away having any urgency to it. But then it was the infectious Italia 90 house style piano on How Deep Is Your Love? that pulled me back for a few more listens, and then I finally woke up to the brilliance of Come Back to Me. Sounding like a woozy drunken accordion-playing pirate down the disco, it's a proper corker of a track, yet probably also one of the tracks that I'd marked down as 'big messy confused mess' on my first listen. The rest of the album isn't awful, but doesn't reach the same heights. Unless in a month's time I find there's another song on it that I haven't realised is actually brilliant.
I'd read that Grouplove's Never Trust A Happy Song was similar to the likes to The Go! Team, which tickled my curiosity even though I've not listened to the likes of Ladyflash in yonks. First track Itchin' On A Photograph sounded more like Modest Mouse getting shouty at a party to me, and the bouncy Chloe is like The Fratellis' Chelsea Dagger only good. Slow seems to have been dropped randomly into proceedings to halt the boisterous pace of the rest of the album, but it does show a more mature sound. The fact it's then followed by a track called Naked Kids stops it being taken too seriously though.
Someone who does take it all seriously is Zola Jesus, back with Conatus. Still carrying that Fever Ray-ish chill of previous offering Stridulum II, this is an altogether more solid affair. Avalanche has an early Cranes feel to it, while Vessel sounds like it could have come from any of Depeche Mode's good angsty albums, like Songs Of Faith And Devotion or Playing The Angel. The rest of the album's not up to those high standards, but it still works as a fine soundtrack for those moody journeys home in the dark winter evenings. What? Goth? Moi?
My hipster radar's obviously broken, I can't see how Foster the People's Pumped Up Kicks completely passed me by earlier this year. Sounding like one of those excellent early MGMT singles made of elastic, it's got an irresistible vibe that should really jar at this time of year, but is completely infectious. Reading the shoutbox I get the impression that if I listened to the radio I'd be more fed up than Barry White at an all-you-can-eat joint, but for now it's still a cracker.
And to finish, Feist's Metals. I'd heard that it was a soporific affair, but that didn't really put me off. While My Moon My Man and 1234 were the ones pulling all the radio play (and rightly so, they're ace) from predecessor The Reminder, my favourites were the gorgeously graceful The Water and lazily languid Honey Honey. If I wanted to keep my alliteration pretensions going I could describe Metals as disappointingly dull, but that would be overdoing it.It starts promisingly with The Bad in Each Other, a slow rumbling opener similar in feel to the majestic The Birds on Elbow's Build a Rocket Boys!. There then follows a spate of tracks with nothing much to differentiate between them: they're not bad by any means but there's no tension or variety. Lead single How Come You Never Go There is a good example: on it's own its a decent, dare I say it, nice, song, and if I'd not heard anything else by Feist I'd definitely want to listen to some more. But surrounded by several other nice tracks all the impact is lost, and you end up with what feels like half an age of unengaging but pretty aural wallpaper. Anti-Pioneer does signal a pick up though with its lazy melancholy, and then Undiscovered First, with it's someone stomping about upstairs gentle beat, is off-kilter enough to garner more interest. And then at about the 2 and a half minute mark it seems to happen: a dawning that the album needs a gear change. And sure enough, a discordant climax that's been a long time coming kicks in like an almighty triumph, and it feels gooood. Comfort Me goes for another build, this one carrying echoes of The Bad In Each Other but with added rousing Let It Be-esque la-la-las. And then closer Get It Wrong, Get It Right shows the rest of the album how to do the languid sound without turning into background music, managing to be understated and gorgeous. And there's a gag about how the title sums up the album in here somewhere, but I can't find it.

Ah, time for a countdown.


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