Former Disney star enlists The Flaming Lips and Ariel Pink on a thrillingly weird surprise album
10 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week (16/07/2013)
The best tracks out this week, including Manic Street Preachers, Pete Doherty and Frank Ocean
Though there’s been worrying talk of middle age, mortality and acoustic guitars, surely the Blackwood boys are not so near the end that, as the title track of their new album suggests, their lives are flashing before their eyes? Nothing so terminal; indeed, here are a Manics if not rejuvenated, then re-energised. After the revisiting of past glories that came with their singles compilation in 2011, they were supposed to take a long break. The fact that they couldn’t do it tells you they’ve found a new way forward. Nicky Wire has described the new record as filled with “self-critiques about how you sustain the fantasy of still being a rock’n’roll band, trying to keep our ideology and intent, while realising you’re getting old”. Ageing gracefully is tricky, but this softly unfolding six-minute track proves the Manics subtle masters of maturity. They step into the shadows to let Richard Hawley’s Woodbine sigh plead for nostalgia and comfort through a delicate, detailed symphony of Scott Walkerish classicism, set with delicious contrast against James Dean Bradfield’s gutsy howl halfway through. Rather than raging, it rolls softly over buried pain, soothing with balmy beauty; at the core, though, there’s that ideology, that intent, an iron spine in a velvet smoking jacket.
Emily Mackay, writer
Pete Doherty - 'Cheapshott'
Recently uploaded onto Pete’s personal YouTube account, ‘Cheapshott’ is notable for its jaunty jazz piano and lyrics about “jail”, “bail” and a “comedown”. We don’t know where it came from and it’s not on the new Babyshambles album. But it’s textbook Doherty: all over the place, hella pretty.
Tom Howard, Reviews Editor
Fuzz - 'Loose Sutures'
Not content with having another solo record out in August (his fourth this decade), Californian garage rock superman Ty Segall is releasing an album as Fuzz in October. Judging by ‘Loose Sutures’, the Sabbath-like bits of his ‘Slaughterhouse’ classic will be strung out into meat-and-potatoes rock. Tasty.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer
Ariel Pink And Jorge Elbrecht - 'Hang On To Life'
This collaboration between maverick weirdo Pink and West Coast lo-fi pop cult hero Elbrecht (of Violens) is surprisingly accessible. A lush, hazy heatwave of zoned-in ’80s R&B psychedelia, complete with mid-song stoner chat about girls, best enjoyed flat on your back in a peyote farm silo.
Mark Beaumont, writer
Summer Camp - 'Fresh'
When you were young, every summer was golden and you didn’t have a care in the world. Or that’s how it seems, because hindsight is always rose-tinted. Summer Camp’s return opens with swelling Disney strings, and mines that nostalgia with a peachy pop song tinged with melancholy.
Kevin EG Perry, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
Smith Westerns - 'Case & Point'
A previously unreleased ‘basement recording’, the flip of forthcoming vinyl single ‘Varsity’ finds the Beatles-meets-Pink Floyd band from Chicago channelling sun-dripped West Coast melancholy in a song that’s as comfortable as an old armchair. Too good to be a B-side.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Kings Of Leon - 'Supersoaker'
The first official ride from Kings Of Leon’s ‘Mechanical Bull’ is a rough and rowdy Tennessee stomp with Caleb Followill in full growl, and a departure from the band’s recent obsession with the wafty stadium sounds of U2. Plus it’s a handy reminder to buy a heavy-duty water pistol in time for the heatwave.
Leonie Cooper, writer
Frank Ocean - 'Pray'
There’s no word on when he’ll release the follow up to 2012’s ‘Channel Orange’, but Frank Ocean has been debuting plenty of new stuff at his live shows. Following ‘Anything For You’ and ‘Feel California’ comes ‘Pray’, a track played at Brixton Academy last week. With only a swirling guitar for backing until the drums kick in, Ocean’s voice does all of the work, hitting lines such as “I’ll do anything for you” perfectly.
Siân Rowe, Assistant Reviews Editor
Papa - 'Young Rut'
LA duo Papa have been promising to be the next big thing to tickle your ’80s-electro-meets-rock’n’roll fancy for a while now. The sun-soaked ‘Young Rut’ has a huge, driving bassline, an easy-to-learn chorus (mainly consisting of “woo”) and a Springsteen-sized stadium punch. Pretty bloody brilliant then.
Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor
Cerebral Ballzy - 'City’s Girl'
As close to a love song as Honor and the boys will ever get, ‘City’s Girl’ is a lesson in the art of keeping it real. Short, sharp and produced by Dave Sitek, it’s more compressed than anything the New Yorkers have done before, but every bit as gnarly.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
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)