Album Reviews – St. Lucia, Lissie, Paradise Valley, TLC

Artist: St. LuciaAlbum: When The NightAfter two EPs, St. Lucia have released their first full-length album When The Night. Channelling all the energy of A-ha and Erasure with all its accompanying 80’s pop-electro goodness, St. Lucia have created a retro album that will define the century. Synthesisers a-plenty and a swinging drum and bass beat allows it to hit all the right notes.The opener, ‘The Night Comes Again’, kicks the album to life with an ethereal infused intro before swinging you thirty years into the past, at 88 miles per hour, to the likes of Live Aid, hair spray and questionable clothing.‘The Way You Remember Me’ is definitely the standout track on the album and by far the most modern sounding, while still retaining the ecstatic pop goodness everyone needs in their life. Add in a cheesy saxophone solo, and you have a winner.The hidden gem on the album is ‘September’; a song you could tirelessly repeat without any vestiges of stopping anytime soon.One drawback to this album is that it feels more like background music, accompanying you and your friends over a few naggins. While this is not a major downside, it does mean that none of the tracks immediately stick in your head like MGMT or Bastille do. Momentarily infectious, but it’s going to make it difficult for St. Lucia to get a strong footing in people’s heads.In a Nutshell: Pure vintage pop flair, with a modern day shine.~ Stephen Larkin
 Artist: LissieAlbum: Back To ForeverBack To Forever reveals many emotions and personalities about the critically acclaimed songstress, Lissie. In her sophomore release, through twelve highly polished tracks produced by Irish native Jacknife Lee, Lissie explores themes such as confidence, fame, rebellion, patriotism, and love.There is a clear shift in styles from her debut album Catching A Tiger. After being somewhat shunned from the organic ears of hipster audiences, Lissie has incorporated elements of hip-hop and pop to produce a much more radio-ready record.The greater successes come prematurely on the record, where the pounding drums and ostentatious guitar riffs of ‘The Habit’ and ‘Further Away’ show what it could have been. Lissie commands attention early on and appears to assert her position as one of the most current rock vocalists, but past the third track the record ultimately disappoints.The pop choruses and backing vocals of ‘Sleepwalking’ are edgier, rock versions of Katy Perry backtracks and in ‘Shameless’, Lissie ironically tells us that she doesn't want to sell out for fame. However, the hip-hop-infused verses give the impression that she’s attempting to appeal to a more mainstream audience.The record, in truth, is not without it’s gems. Highlights include ‘Mountaintop Removal’, where Lissie pleads with America to turn on their industrialised ways, and the final track, ‘Back to Forever’, is a powerful, moving ballad that sees Lissie reflect on her past memories.In a Nutshell: A pleasing record that will gain this crooner a wider audience, but could disappoint original fans for being too mainstream~ Sean Hayes Artist: John MayerAlbum: Paradise ValleyMany people have a vendetta against John Mayer that is bred out of contempt for his music. But doesn’t everyone deserve a clean slate, even if they are John Mayer?In keeping with his usual habit of irking everyone, Mayer has thrown together an annoyingly enjoyably body of songs that almost paint him as a nice person. Unlike previous albums, Mayer has dropped the try-hard conflicted angst in favour of a more mellow, easygoing sound.Starting with ‘Wildfire’, an ear-pleasing and upbeat melody, he lures you in to a playlist that doesn’t disappoint. Mayer also maintains a level of continuity by layering his songs with his autobiographical theme that runs through previous albums. His love for life finds itself entwined throughout.‘Who You Love’, a peppy duet with Katy Perry, adds diversity, while ‘Paper Doll’ is a very pleasant song that has a pointed, yet measured response to the media storm following his relationship with Taylor Swift.He has neither confirmed nor denied that the song was aimed at his ex-lover, but lyrics such as “and if those angel wings don’t fly, someone’s gonna paint you another sky” a direct and clever response to similar lyrics found in Swifts’ tune ‘Dear John’, says otherwise.On the whole, Mayer has taken a stripped back and organic approach to his newer songs, which will be a sure hit for his growing audience.In a Nutshell: A laid back, upbeat vibe that is perfect for soothing frazzled nerves on those early morning insufferable bus journeys~ Claire O’Sullivan  Artist: TLCAlbum: 20Utter the three letters TLC in sequence to any fan of 90’s music and you will undoubtedly be presented with a horrendously squawked version of ‘No Scrubs’.Unfathomable really, since TLC were never known for making melodically difficult songs. Rather, it was the fact that they were the working man’s, and women’s, R&B group that the world needed, but not necessarily deserved, which largely contributed to their success.Once considered one of the more successful female bands around, it comes as no surprise that a greatest hits album has finally surfaced. The issue that arises however is that nobody will listen to most of this album more than once.Now, we don’t doubt TLC’s R&B credentials; they didn’t sell millions of albums for no reason. This was the nineties and early noughties, when music sales actually equated to musical quality. However, so many of the songs on this greatest hits album are so unfamiliar and indistinguishable they blend into one.‘Diggin On You’ follows ‘Red Light Special’ on the tracklist, making it easy to guess the theme of the majority of the songs on this record. Surreptious seediness seems to be the order.It becomes all too tempting and too easy to hit the skip button after ten minutes of listening. Songs such as ‘Waterfalls’, ‘No Scrubs’ and ‘Unpretty’ are the classics they always were, but they come packaged in so much fluff it actually takes from their quality as standalone hits.In a nutshell: Pick up any 90’s R&B compilation album and you’ll get all the TLC you could need.~ Michael O’ Sullivan