July Music Review

It is time for another monthly music review, and it has been yet another strong month with three releases that will all contend for my top 20 end of year lists; two of them already looking like certainties.

Serotonin is the Mystery Jets' third album.  In a sense, each has been more mainstream than the last, but that is mainstream as in the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Monkees (on their better days) - hook-laden pop/rock with lyrics a cut above the norm and the odd edge of emotion or oddness to cut through the amazingly catchy tunes.  I read once that the team who write great US sitcoms such as Cheers have a rule - a laugh every 30 seconds.  This album feels like their rule was a hook every 30 seconds.  On the third play, I was singing along to pretty much every track.  I think it is my second favourite album of the year maybe; and they were a revelation as a live band at the Lovebox festival last weekend, better even than the Maccabees I thought.  I could point you to pretty much any track, but here and here are a couple of great ones.  So 9 / 10.

Also playing at Lovebox were a somewhat tired / laid back seeming Bombay Bicycle Club.  Perhaps laid back because their new album,  Flaws, is a folky-acoustic album.  When I heard they planned to do this, I thought it must be a joke; their first album, just last year, was a very good but pretty head on indie rock big guitar number.  And the band are all about 12 years old , so isn't it a bit soon to be going all mature and introspective on us? But this is a revelation. It could well be this year's surprise mega seller (cf. the Mumfords); I can see it being played at 50th birthday parties and also at teenage chill out sessions.  Very strong songs, and it never descends into tweeness, perhaps because of Jack Steadman's vocals which are emotional yet edgy and raw at times.  Tracks like  'Rinse me Down' and 'Flaws' stand comparison with Nick Drake or Laura Marling (with a touch of CSNY) and I can't say better than that;  8.5 / 10.

Finally, a slight disappointment perhaps because of my high expectations.  Cherry Ghost's first album in 2007 contained one of the most beautiful rock songs ever in 'Mathematics', as well as 'People help the people' which was almost as brilliant.  After 3 listens, I'm not sure their new album, "Beneath this burning shoreline", contains anything quite as outstanding.  And while I'm always into good VFM, at 55 minutes it does sag a little in the middle; the best tracks (intelligent, complex songs with varied instrumentation and plenty of melody)  seemingly concentrated at each end.  But it varies between very pleasant and very good with the standouts being Kissing Strangers and Black Fang.  7.5 / 10.

And sometime soon I will be commenting on the Mercury Prize shortlist; let's just say I'm delighted that my album of last year (Wild Beasts) and my favourite from this year (Laura Marling) have both made it.  I will be commenting on the bookies odds as well, having made a killing (well, £50) last year thanks to Speech Debelle.

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