April Album Review – Christine and the Queens, Frightened Rabbit, Eliza and the Bear

Ah, the May Day Weekend, and in the UK, the sleet is driving icily across the country, little lambs freeze rather than gambol, cricket matches are abandoned due to snow - just a typical public holiday for us then really.  Anyway, have a good long weekend! We won't be publishing any articles on Monday, unless - oh, I don't know, SAP buys IBM or something. But here are our very brief album reviews for April, we're short of time but do want to tell you about three very strong new releases.

If you saw Christine and the Queens on the Later TV show this week you will know that she (27 year old  Héloïse Letissier) already conducts herself like a star - perhaps the best dancer we've seen on the pop stage since Jacko,  she can really sing too and is a very talented song-writer. The album Chaleur Humaine is electro dance-pop but with real wit and charm, lyrics (a mix of French and English) that cover her own sexual ambivalence, and a often sparse but precise sound that lets her personality and the great tunes come through. A real and unexpected pleasure and a contender for album of the year, we suspect. We featured  Tilted in our "Down the Procurement Pub" article last week, so here is another great track - this is the French version, there is more English on the UK album.   9/10.

Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit have been going for ten years and more with their dark, impassioned and often gloomy but very distinctive style. Painting of a Panic Attack (you can tell from the title that this isn't exactly going to be lightweight fluff ...) is their fifth album and is produced by the National's Aaron Dessert, who brings more warmth to the sound and along with some of the strongest tunes they've ever written, makes this their best to date (in our opinion anyway). Songs like "An Otherwise Disappointing Life" are actually strangely uplifting, and the band is only one big break-through radio hit from being another Elbow and breaking through to the big time - 9/10 again.

In another month, Eliza and the Bear with their eopnymous debut album would have been our favourite. Rousing songs with big, festival friendly choruses (and they were great in the small tent at Reading Festival last year) positions then in the Mumford's, Dry the River, nu-folk camp but there is some pure pop-rock talent too - think of the Feeling's first album, another classic of that genre. Very enjoyable, maybe without quite the depth of the previous two albums reviewed above, but also highly recommended. 8/10.

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