We take a look at the latest music releases, including NME Awards 2016 headliners Bloc Party.
Bloc Party –Hymns: It’s easy to forgive the band that produced the seminal Silent Alarm anything, but in recent years, Bloc Party has still been cause for concern. You could count on maybe two to three tracks to wow on each of their subsequent three records. And yet, Hymns is a triumph. The Love Within is half tinny arcade game, half soaring, gleeful indie dance tune. The only confusing moment is on the opening of Exes, which weirdly mimics The Smiths, Okereke doing his best Morrissey homage. He comes over all lofty voiced choir boy in Fortress which builds achingly, Different Drugs draws on Eighties synths spiralling into a high keening bridge, while the restrained, muted Living Lux swallows you whole (lyrics about lobsters included). What a return to form. Ella Walker
Laurence Fox – Holding Patterns: Star of Lewis, part of the Fox acting dynasty and husband of singer-turned-actress Billie Piper, Laurence Fox is having a crack at the music industry with this debut album of extremely passable self-penned indie-influenced tunes. His recognisable vocals strain on the storytelling Shelter and the sombre Gunfight, but after a couple of listens, the raspiness can grate. Much more enduring are the upbeat Rise Again and almost-dance track Headlong. The title track is similarly heart-beat spiking. He’s also on guitar on the stripped-back soft closer Before, but lyrically he’s not setting the world on fire with some slightly twee rhymes. Fox has not quit acting yet and says this album was something he had to do – as music’s his ‘passion’ – and it’s a fair start that will enthral his fans. Kate Whitting
Lion Babe – Begin: Performance artist Jillian Hervey and musician Lucas Goodman, aka Lion Babe, have been working together since 2012 and so far have collaborated with Pharrell Williams, Disclosure and Childish Gambino. This New York duo’s experimental debut record, Begin, thrums with soul but has a jangly, experimental R&B edge to it. Stressed OUT! slurs from disco vibes into sharp minimalist vocals, while Impossible clatters and skips, and Satisfy My Love combines deep, sultry lyrics with hip rolling beats. Single Where Do We Go sounds like a dance off cut from the early 2000s, but the dreamy, hypnotic Jungle Lady and the rumbling, clap-strewn Treat Me Like Fire are certainly magnetic. Begin is not an instant classic, but the potential is palpable. You have to start somewhere after all. Ella Walker
The Cult –Hidden City: For their tenth studio album, The Cult have left the art rock of the Nineties and early 2000s behind and revived the soaring choruses and stadium-friendly riffs of their classic early albums. Opening tracks Dark Energy and No Love Lost set a blistering pace - the latter ushered in with a classic spectral refrain from guitarist Billy Duffy before an army of Duffys form a grunge chorus and singer Ian Astbury soars above it, still in fine voice. The album does lose its way a little with ballads In Blood and Birds Of Paradise both striving for an epic sound but falling ponderously short. However, things pick up with G O A T, Duffy’s sinewy guitar writhing like a snake as the band rock out with a stripped back sound. The Cult is still a force to be reckoned with. Mark Edwards
Lalo –Piano Trios: Though French by birth, Edouard Lalo, was mainly influenced by the Germanic music of Mendelssohn and Schumann, this split affinity largely accounting for today’s neglect. Now the Leonore Piano Trio, created by members of the Sheffield-based Ensemble 360, bring to our attention his three completed trios on one generously filled disc. In their hands these are passionate, dramatic and often red-blooded scores, each in three movements, and with moments of repose that feature long flowing lyric passages for Gemma Rosenfield’s immaculate cello playing. Yet Lalo gives the pianist most the big and meaty passages greatly relished by Tim Horton. I promise you a revelatory release very well recorded (Hyperion CDA 68113). David Denton