Albums: New music from Public Service Broadcasting, Roger Taylor and Metronomy, plus a star-studded tribute to the Velvet Underground debut album
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING – LIGHT MAGIC
We can not fault the commitment of J Willgoose Esq: when he devotes himself to a concept album, he does it brilliantly. Bright Magic is a love letter to Berlin, and Willgoose moved to the city for nine months to do his research.
A three-part album, Bright Magic draws on a myriad of genres from the city’s recent history. Industrial techno, Weimar music, Low era David Bowie and hardscrabble punk are all digested and spat out our transformed.
But unlike its predecessor, 2017’s Every Valley – a tender and thoughtful exploration of the rise and fall of Welsh mining – Bright Magic sounds like a tribute rather than a reinvention.
Public Service Broadcasting offers a suite of impressive, sometimes exhilarating songs, but their unique inventiveness is somewhat lost under their obvious taste for their source material.
ROGER TAYLOR – EXTERIOR
ROGER Taylor is one of a handful of drummers who don’t just sit behind the kit. Owner of a decent falsetto, he is more than proficient on guitar, bass and keyboards and has been involved in writing timeless Queen tracks like Under Pressure and Radio Ga Ga.
Outsider is her first solo album in nearly a decade and makes a case for Taylor as Queen’s unsung hero, though her dozen songs have more in common with 10cc rock art and Guns N ‘shredding. Roses as Queen’s Campy Heights.
There are attempts at political commentary on Gangsters Are Running This World and its weakly sung and slightly funky sister version later in the album. Most importantly, Taylor flexes his musical muscles across a range of genres, from the psychedelia of opener Tides to his glam rock cover of The Clapping Song.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR: A TRIBUTE TO VELVET UNDERGROUND AND NICO
THE Velvet Underground’s debut album in 1967 has to be the most influential flop of all time.
His lasting influence means that big names like Iggy Pop and Michael Stipe appear on this tribute album, a piece-by-piece tribute.
Stipe tackles the Sunday Morning opening, even lower than the bored original, while National’s Matt Berninger sings I’m Waiting For The Man in a higher pitch than his usual rumbling bass, closer to the Reed’s nervous delivery.
Some of the more successful tracks drastically rework the songs, like Courtney Barnett’s folky I’ll Be Your Mirror, her half-spoken performance closer to Reed than Nico.
Iggy Pop and Matt Sweeney transform the latest track European Son into almost eight minutes of barely controlled chaos.
Like all the best tribute albums, I’ll Be Your Mirror makes you want to listen again while sending you back to the originals with a new appreciation.
METRONOMY – POSSE EP VOLUME 1
JOSEPH Mount and his indietronica formation have carved out a place for themselves in history as founders of the genre and pillars of live.
Now, they want to work directly with the next wave of talent and their new series of EPs Posse gives them exactly that chance.
Half An Inch with rapper Peckham Pinty is the best thing here. A vibrant and funky Metronomy’s instrumental gives Pinty a solid foundation on which to rap his hopes and dreams, along with a healthy dose of self-mockery.
Irish singer and rapper Jessica Smyth, known by her stage name Biig Piig, appears on Synth-laden Dreamer 405, another star.
But like Damon Albarn’s Humanz album from the Gorillaz project, a similar collaborative experiment, this EP is everywhere.
Some of these songs might sound raw or even unfinished, but there’s enough of it here to engage the average listener and get the fan excited about Part Two.