Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
Reaching To The Converted (Minding The Gaps)
Reclaiming the protest song from the clammy paws of po-faced obsolescence, [a]Billy Bragg[/a] has proven Britain's most consistently relevant social soundtracker....
Thus, dodgy live versions are jettisoned in favour of considered re-recordings, and political diatribes nestle comfortably beside pathos-strewn pop songs. Highlights include the warm rush of 'Sulk' and the Smiths-ian 'Shirley' (a re-recording of 'Greetings To The New Brunette') while the recent, harmonium-enhanced 'Rule Nor Reason' hints that Bragg's grasp of the devotional love song is as canny as ever.
Only his most fervently political numbers (1986's Tory-baiting 'Think Again' and '85's 'Days Like These') have dated; fragile relics from a Britain that now seems little more than a distant memory. But this is a minor quibble. For it's Bragg's humour and humanity that truly shine through here; a genuine, everyman warmth that kills any accusations of worthiness dead. For devotees and new-starts alike, 'Reaching...' is indispensable.
The Cavan teenagers attack album two with abandon, largely at the expense of quality
A still-vital John Lydon rages towards retirement on a saucy, scuzzy new album
10 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (26/8/2015)
Oxford's finest flit between gnarly rock and frustrating slickness on an often-brilliant fourth album