You know about the big releases each week, but what about those smaller albums which may have passed underneath your radar. Don’t miss out on the smaller, lesser-known gems which might become some of your favourites. We’ve rounded up six of the best new album releases from this week: catch up with Chastity Belt’s woozy feminism, Passion Pit’s uplifting candyfloss-pop and more.
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis – Loin Des Hommes: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Loin Des Hommes sounds like the kind of film dirty old buggers Nick Cave and Bad Seed Warren Ellis would make the music for, but it translates simply as Far From Men, which was a 2014 French drama based on an Albert Camus short story. As the song titles – ‘Dead Horse’, ‘Dust Storm’, ‘No Class Today’ – suggest, Cave and Ellis’s score is impressionistic, and closely tied to the imagery and narrative of the film. The 14 tracks – almost entirely instrumental – play out as loose sketches of piano, violin and electronics, making for an ultra-sparse, carefully considered album.
Faith No More – Sol Invictus
At their early-’90s commercial peak, Faith No More were a slightly weird fit with their alt-metal contemporaries like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains: experimental and ever-so-slightly screwball, they were lumped in with a lot of shit, but always rose above it. With their first album in 18 years, the San Fran band (who disbanded in 1998 and reformed in 2009) have managed a rare trick – ‘Sol Invictus’ sounds like they’ve never been away. From the bluesy title track to ‘Motherfucker’’s frenzied talk of smallpox blankets and cattle-brained conformity, the absence of original guitarist Jim Martin is soon overshadowed by just how focused the record is.
Wetdog – Divine Times
After the release of Wetdog’s second album ‘Frauhaus!’ in 2010, singer and guitarist Rivka Gillierion fell pregnant and drummer Sarah Datblygu moved across the Atlantic from London to New York. It has taken the trio – completed by bassist Billy Easter, who plays in excellent post-punk band Shopping – four years to craft this follow-up. The long gestation has resulted in their best record yet. Introduced by the jarring ‘Message’, the 14-track ‘Divine Times’ is full of angular arrangements – the riffs on ‘Small Talk’ would be better understood with a protractor – and playful interplay between clanging drums, chunky basslines and fidgety punk noise (see the aforementioned ‘Small Talk’). Best of all is ‘Sometimes I’m A Bitch’, an unpredictable tangle of sweet vocal harmonies and stop-start rhythms.
Róisín Murphy – Hairless Toys
After taking a break to have children, ex-Moloko singer Róisín Murphy returned last year with ‘Mi Senti’, an EP featuring covers of classic Italian pop songs – an ambitious undertaking for a singer who didn’t speak a word of the language. ‘Hairless Toys’, the 41-year-old’s first album since 2007’s glossy ‘Overpowered’, is equally audacious. Murphy’s music remains grounded in Hercules & Love Affair-style housey electronica but these songs unfurl slowly and unconventionally as they take detours into skulking Grace Jones funk (‘Uninvited Guest’), opulent cosmic disco (‘Evil Eyes’) and lush country balladry (‘Unputdownable’). When Murphy lets her guard down on ‘House Of Glass’, singing candidly about her “broken home”, she puts a seal on a remarkable comeback.
Will Haven – Open The Mind To Discomfort
Will Haven’s initial burst of cultish popularity, in the late 1990s, was partly attributable to the era’s nu-metal explosion. In truth, the Cali six-piece bore little resemblance to that crowd, or even pals (and fellow Sacramento residents) Deftones. Their stifling crypto-metal owed more to early-’90s noise-rock bands such as Unsane. On this EP, their first release for four years, not much has changed. Grady Avenell bellows his lungs out over earthmoving basslines and guitars that will bring you out in a cold sweat; four short drone interludes break up five longer tracks that don’t exactly reinvent the Will Haven wheel, but remind you of its industrious power.
Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last
Thee Oh Sees have mastered the art of maintaining a prolific yet diverse output without compromising its quality. Following a short-lived hiatus and a rejig of their line-up, the Californian five-piece’s 14th album packs everything they’re good at into one concentrated effort: frenetic rock, pulsating psychedelia and buoyant melodies. This nine-song, 33-minute record begins and ends with two of their finest songs in recent years, the throttling ‘Web’ and the dreamy ‘Palace Doctor’. In between, the new rhythm section of Tim Hellman (Sic Alps) and Nick Murray (Ty Segall, White Fence) slot seamlessly into place, helping bandleader John Dwyer capture a sound that epitomises Thee Oh Sees: tight but unhinged, urgent but infectious.