Album Reviews

Bon Iver – Bon Iver (4AD B004ZAXYOU): Bon Iver’s debut album For Emma, Forever Ago was a heart-rending and raw ode to breaking up, and an unexpected success. The soft, tear-jerking beauty of the band’s harmonies remain throughout this follow-up, creating a powerful vocal wall on opener Perth and later on single Calgary. The melodies still permeate the soul – they’re infectious but not predictable, often changing shape mid-track, always keeping the listener guessing. But the real change on this album is the introduction of brass, military percussion, electronica and a thicker, more confident guitar tone that all suggests Justin Vernon wants to tell the world he has moved on. Moving stuff. JG

Suede – Head Music (Edsel B004KNM3H6): Originally released in 1999, Suede now re-release their fourth album. Home to singles Electricity, Can’t Get Enough, She’s In Fashion and Everything Will Flow, the album reached the number one slot 12 years ago and with fresh ears, has aged wonderfully. What’s more, the listener is treated to a three-disc package, the first featuring the album and demos of five of the album tracks and disc two focusing on B-sides. It’s a must for devoted Suede followers. PW

Beethoven/Mozart/Haydn – Piano Sonatas (Semaphore SML MP28): Mixing a concert career with 10 years of passing on her keyboard expertise to York University students, Sarah Beth Briggs now adds to her discography this hugely desirable disc. For Beethoven’s Thirty-first sonata she takes a robust and rewardingly fresh look at a well-known score; Mozart’s Fourteenth is characteristic of her crystalline playing, while Haydn’s Fifty-second is full of classical refinement and a brilliant finale. Beethoven’s 32 Variations – precise but never severe – complete a very well-recorded disc. DD

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Leighton & MacMillan – Choral Works (Regent REGCD 348): With three new releases in as many months, the music of Wakefield-born Kenneth Leighton is again in favour, the large-scale and powerful Missa Dancti Thomae here receiving its first recording. He was to teach James MacMillan whose chilling picture of political prisoners generates the emotive Cantos Sagrados, a work of tremendous power and passion. Five shorter scores by the two composers complete a disc from twenty-four young voices of the Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir. In every way quite superb. DD

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