Is it too soon to put forward ideas for album of the year? Too much to feature the same band in two consecutive round ups? Perhaps we’ll hold fire on any claims of album of the year right now, but there is absolutely a stand out, and as for featuring the same band twice in a row? Can’t have too much of a good thing now, can you?
Let’s get straight in to that album. Black Country, New Road had me instantly enamoured with their ‘Track X’, but I weirdly never got beyond that point. While their debut album hit some highs, I couldn’t help but feel that we needed a little more. Enter Ants From Up There. While the subsequent announcement of Isaac’s departure injected a level of poignancy to the album, it is beautiful from the get go. There is something to be felt in every note, as the band craft an album that comes across so effortless and natural, but equally so intentional. From start to finish it is a masterpiece, a well forged path of songs, that is a joy to follow as it twists and turns in beguiling ways.
While there is indeed a certain feeling of heartbreak over the fact that this album will never be toured, there is something so pure about the format that it will go on to exist in. One thing is for sure, the connection the band have built with fans will no doubt go on to build foundations for new projects from the band members. Bittersweet it may be, but a strong note to leave on for Black Country, New Road.
Another album I was loving this month was the eighth studio album from Beach House, Once Twice Melody. Having teased the release with short chapters along the way, the dream pop duo certainly kept us on our toes. A double length album is easy to get lost in, especially with the wishy washy sway of shoegaze. However the monthly instalments allowed us to get stuck into a few tracks at a time, allowing use to devour every little bit. The only thing I would say, is that by the time the full album was available, I had indeed got lost before the final chapter. Still, I found great delight in the mix of gentle tones and industrial psych from these two.
The addition of the lyric animations really pushed the release further, adding another dimension to this creative project as a whole. I think Beach House are at that point in their career where people expect a certain sound, but also a little experimentation and Once Twice Melody is a great offering of this. It is exactly what you would expect from the Baltimore duo, with just enough of something else to keep them moving onward and upward. I am very much looking forward to seeing them in Brixton later this year!
Let’s get down to the singles. I generally like to keep things varied with these posts, but as soon as I heard Fontaines D.C‘s single ‘I Love You’, I felt it right through my bones. The voice, the music, the lyrics – it is the full package and a very ‘me’ track. It is a raw old love song that is gut wrenchingly romantic in both a delicate and gritty way. I fully couldn’t get enough of this and quite frankly still find myself going back to it now. Fontaines D.C. are absolutely a contender for band of the year for me and the new album can’t come soon enough.
Another instant hit for me was Sunflower Bean, with ‘Who Put You Up To This’. Such a strong return, reminding me of how I felt when Wolf Alice came back with ‘Yuk Foo’ and ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ way back when. Now, it is absolutely no secret that Wolf Alice are one of my favourite bands of all time, so to feel this same level of excitement here says it all. There is an undeniable step up in the production of this single; starting off soft and ethereal but not without a real punch of epic guitar, which is for sure a Sunflower Bean staple.
I have spent a lot of time listening to Matt Wilkinson on Apple Radio and if he’s not sharing the same songs I love, he is showing a load of brand new ones that I just can’t get enough of. One of these is ‘mona lisa’ by mxmtoon, a track that I was singing along to almost instantly. As much as I love a deep and guttural sound, I have such a big place in my heart for sickly sweet natured songs such as this one. I feel like the tone is very spring like, so highly in tune with the time of year and very much sunshine personified. With a hopeful sense of longing, ‘mona lisa’ is dreamy and downright delicious.
My final favourite is ‘Hard Drive Gold’ from alt-J and their new album The Dream. Admittedly not one I had hugely anticipated personally, but this is absolutely not a band to turn your nose up at. I fell in love with the groove of this new track, the unconventional pop song that it is. Nothing ground breaking, but interesting and enough of a bop to stand out. ‘Hard Drive Gold’ is an absolute belter that always gets the volume up a notch when it comes around.
As I type this we are firmly in to March (fashionably late for the February highlights of course!) and I have to admit I’ve been a bit slow to catch on to new releases so far. That being said, a new Wet Leg song is very much rocking my world right now, and I can’t help but love a little of my Bristol fave James Humphrys. We’ll just have to wait and see what more comes my way.
All of the songs above and many more can be found on my Listen 2022 playlist, available on Apple Music and Spotify. Happy listening!