Side A1: Palace – trippy indie punk pop anthem layers with ethereal vocals and underpinned with bouncy vibrant drums. A 90s indie feel that comes to full illumination when the horn section kicks in. Plaintive but soulful building to epicness. A real Curiosity Killed the Cat vibe.
Side A2: Stick the Knife In – thumping heavy bassy substrater and clangy plucky guitar surround a mournful lost vocal. A strange world of darkness and infinite shoe-gazing.
Side B1: Going Normal – a wide western electronic dreamscape with an Inspiral Carpets mystical trippy tone. Perfect indie festival shuffles with tribal drumming and hypnotic sweeping guitars.
Side B2: I Can Try – bright bubbly 60s styling pop. Hazy spaced out vocals with playful guitars. Blessed out in a pleasurable dream world. Immense use of keyboards, organ and piano. Builds and grows into a Bowie-esque epic with howling horns and soul crunching composition.
Thought: travelling far on a bus made of vocals and geeeetars!
Side A: classic early 80s summer soul rnb smooth choon packed to the rafters with soulful elegance and beautiful vocals. Mellow and relaxed with Neneh Cherry styling and chilled out beats. Stunningly gorgeous vocals from Chidi.
Side B: two fantastic remixes by Ashley Needle and cohorts. Remix 1 brings a clean crisp feel to the track with more 70s inspired vibes and pads and a disco undertone. Remix 2 is stripped back to the bare and oh so beautiful vocals with instruments and samples sipping in and out. Perfect for headphones. A Brand New Heavies flavour throughout.
Thought: hot in the city, hot in the city tonight…where’s my Walkman and rollerskates?
Format: 12″ LP gold vinyl
Whilst visiting Domino Records to grab a copy of the amazing Middle Kids EP, my eye was caught by a beautiful gold LP. The band behind this glorious piece of spinning wax was Little Cub, and after some investigation I chose to take the risk and order the LP.
Boy oh boy, am I happy that I did. Not only is it one of the most gorgeous LPs I’ve ever seen, but what lies within its grooves is sheer synth heaven!
The best way to describe this South London trio is soft indie lo-fi synthwave pop…I know, it is a mouthful, but it sums them up perfectly. Every track on the LP is a masterpiece of modern synthwave composition, evoking actual and assumed 80s nostalgia. Then layered on top is a vocal style that is relaxed, pulled-back, lo-fi but engaging and oh-so-wonderful. There’s a bit of Morrissey, New Order, Talk Talk, Pet Shop Boys and Lightning Seeds in here…but it is much more than mere homage. This is a very modern indie take on what made those 80s synths and mournful lyrics so important. This is revelatory street-level storytelling with rhythm and swagger. This is synthwave poetry, making you think and boogie in equal measure. Each and every track takes you on a journey…albeit it in a Lamborghini Countach whilst wearing a big shouldered suit and Aviator shades!
Here’s a few thoughts on some of the majestic tracks:
I love this album, am overjoyed at taking the risk of buying something unknown, and hope Little Cub keep evolving their sound and releasing incredible music for decades to come. The LP is an astonishing piece of vinyl, the gold colouring is eye-catching, and the sheer weight of the thing (almost like two traditional LPs glued together) is shockingly pleasing. Thumbs up to the band, the label and the manufacturer!
Thoughts: driving at speed down an 80s highway, shades on, padded shoulders bopping to the tunes, brain engaged by the lyrics – sheer synthwave bliss
The latest album from the screamo nu metal legends is…frankly…a shock. Gone are the guttural hi energy vocals and heavy guitars mixed with hip hop beats and high impact digital production techniques. It is almost as if the band have spent a couple of months song writing with Ed Sheeran, because this is an album of beautifully crafted pop/light rock songs. There’s still a tight, highly polished sound…everything is superbly crafted, but it just isn’t Linkin Park. This is a band who have grown up, matured and expanded their repertoire but instead of creating an adult rock album with soaring musicality and a depth of lyricism borne of experience, they’ve gone New York/Tin Pan Alley and delivered a well meaning but ultimately facile collection of cookie-cutter teeny pop songs more suited to an X Factor runner up than one of the highest rated and musically experimental former nu metal bands.
There is some light and shade within…occasional diversions into EDM and rap/hip hop. But those rare moments say nothing, there’s no message and no subversive meaning behind it. This is a soft rock singer songwriter album you’d expect to hear in the background of a Starbucks or hipster vegan launderette. There is nothing vital here. This is not an album you’d recommend to a friend. Unlike their debut L.P. and follow up Meteora, this is not an album to set the world on fire. It is perfectly fine and will find a happy home with fans of Ed Sheeran or any of his multitude of knock off competitors. But if the band thought they were bravely evolving their sound I’m sorry to say they’ve failed. These are good songs but they should have sold them to other acts. In the rare moments the old Linkin Park shine through it is a joy…but it is too few and far between. Chester’s warm rich vocals are a delight and he has clearly refined his voice but whilst it is pretty, it has lost its edge of importance, of insistence and relevance.
Format: 12″ translucent/clear vinyl
Note: These are the two tracks of Side A of the Love’s Lows EP. Side B will be reviewed separately. Probably the most beautiful translucent vinyl I’ve ever seen.
Mistakes: I can hardly find the words to describe my love for this beautiful piece of electronic whimsy. Soft male vocals glide over a simple repetitive electronic rhythm which evokes blissful summers and happy times driving along a coast road. Simple the underscore may be, but it is highly accomplished. An orgy of tonal beauty, this is truly relaxing electronica…waves of pads and drums floating within a vocal performance of purity and grace.
Sheets: A continuation of the tonal relaxation and pseudo trippy vibes. Almost spoken word vocals weave throughout an ambient electronic atmosphere redolent of seascapes and oceans of stars. There’s enough here to make Mike Oldfield pack up his synth and head home. An original synthetic journey that takes you outward and beyond but never scares or confounds. Electronic art with a heart.
Thought: electronic perfection
Info: Wax & Stamp