Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
10 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week - Glasvegas, Bjork, Lykke Li
The sounds rattling round the skulls of the NME staff this week
And so, the first fury from Glasvegas’ brilliantly titled second album, ‘EUPHORIC /// HEARTBREAK \\\’, not so much creeps out of their LA studio doorway as blasts the door off its hinges, making it shatter against the opposite corridor wall. The Scots – and new Swedish drummer – haven’t exactly toned down their vision since they slipped off our radars at the tail end of 2009 to blueprint their LA fantasy. Nope, just as James Allan’s new angel-in-Ray-Bans image and his goldfish-induced breakdown might suggest, they’re still living out their Fear And Loathing In Glasvegas dreams.
On ‘The World Is Yours’, every box is ticked. James’ porridge-thick croon honks gloriously over wave-crash guitar walls, proud as a stag’s bray across a cold Highland landscape. After four-and-a-half minutes, producer Flood leans forward and maxes out every level until the knobs grind against the opposite end of the mixing board, and the result is one of their most stonkingly epic moments yet. If we fist-punched the air much more we’d all be gushing claret over our trousers in A&E, sporting horrific knuckle-to-ceiling-plaster injuries.
[Jamie Fullerton, News Editor]
2. Kanye West & Jay Z - 'HAM'
Hip-hop’s current king and its court jester join formidable forces – with the help of some Tron-a-like soundscapes and the odd operatic choir – to present this brilliantly bombastic overture. We can’t wait to hear what the rest of their time in the south of France produced.
[Tim Chester, Assistant Editor, NME.com]
3. Bjork - 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'
The cameraphone sound quality ain’t great, but if you’ve ever wondered what Ian Curtis would sound like as an elf, this YouTube footage is heaven sent.
[Paul Stokes, Associate Editor]
4. Smith Westerns - 'All Die Young'
This could easily perish under the weight of its influences: a touch of Beach House here, the spirit of Lennon’s ‘Mind Games’ there... But let’s not call this funeral rock, because die it doesn’t. Superb, mournful and majestic.
[Matt Wilkinson, News Reporter]
5. Wire - 'Adapt'
Hopefully ‘Red Barked Tree’ will correct the misconception that Wire stopped releasing albums in 1979. Here they use the Trojan horse of beautiful melody and guitars to introduce a new generation to their distinctive brand of art punk and robotic but intelligent rock.
[John Doran, writer]
6. Monotonix - 'Before I Pass Away'
If hair were success then Monotonix would be the biggest band in the universe. This is loud and loose rock’n’rock about needing “love and a hug” before they die. It sounds like The Faces doing MC5 – blimmin’ ace.
[Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor]
7. Red River Dialect - 'Distant Man'
“He stayed for two days without saying thank you/When he left, I still wished he would go” from this has lingered with me for days. Its deft dislike of lingering bad memories is one we all know, and made more poignant by the lilting, dejected twang of Simon Drinkwater’s increasingly rancorous strumming. Beautiful.
[Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor]
8. The Forms feat. Matt Berninger - 'Fire To The Ground'
This collaboration between NYC quartet The Forms and The National’s frontman is a sophisticated, snippy violin-led chamber pop delight, with Matt in charmingly cryptic spirits.
[Susana Pearl, writer]
9. Lykke Li - 'I Follow Rivers'
Subtler than ‘Get Some’, but more representative of upcoming second album ‘Wounded Rhymes’, here Lykke is back in her comfort zone; where fancying someone turns into something weird, intense and possessing. There’s a churning turmoil to even Lykke’s most elegant moments.
[Luke Lewis, Deputy Editor, NME.com]
10. Toro Y Moi - 'Still Sound'
Let’s burst some bubbles. Pop! Toro Y Moi does not make twatty whale-song anthems, which you definitely assumed from his name, right? (His real one is Chaz Bundick). Pop! Despite looking like Darwin Deez’s stoopid little brother, he’s actually sharp as a razor, making brilliant swoon-inducing jazzy chillwave, just like this.
[Mike Williams, Features Editor]
This article originally appeared in the January 22 issue of NME
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