Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
Kendal Calling, July 27
We catch the 23-year-old in the Chai Wallahs tent at Kendal Calling, a festival set among an idyllic forest in a deer park in the Lake District – a not-too-shabby setting for some blissed-out folk music. As shisha smoke and the smell of grilled meat from the barbecue at the back of the tent hang heavy in the air, Rose takes to the stage and begins strumming the beautiful ‘Middle Of The Bed’. After a few bars, she’s joined by her band – guitarist, bass, percussion and keys – who liven things up and silence the persistent chatter that plagues her opening number. Swiftly ignoring the drunken festival heckles from dudes declaring their abiding love for her – some way more vulgar than others, the twats – she then plucks and weaves her way through the stunningly simple yet melodically perfect tracks from her forthcoming debut album ‘Like I Used To’, which comes out in late September.
At times her band don’t do her cutesy songs any favours – do we really need a bit of slap-bass on ‘Watch Over’? But when the two click, it can be beguiling. Take ‘Scar’, for example, an uplifting rhythm matched by Rose’s Regina Spektor-like voice, frankly bewildering in its crude beauty. Of course, everyone here only really knows recent single ‘Lines’ and it’s met with the enthusiastic response one would expect. The track, a stupefying folk thriller, is also the closest we get to Rose’s old job as occasional female vocalist in Bombay Bicycle Club. It’s made for festivals. Finishing with a bittersweet ‘Red Face’, Rose slopes offstage to get some well-deserved shut-eye. Hardcore? Nah. These songs are made for the virtuous.
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