Artist: Cee Lo Green
Album: The Lady Killer
Rating: Five Stars
Cee Lo Green wrote and recorded roughly 70 tracks before eventually narrowing his oeuvre down to the 14 songs that comprise The Lady Killer and such perfectionism regularly shines through on this collection of joie de vivre-infused soul-pop.
This is as tight-sounding an LP as they come, with barely a second of recording time wasted; save the pointless skit-cum-pseudo-James Bond theme tunes which bookend the album.
Despite having perhaps the most over-used song title in pop music, ‘I Want You’ is a wonderful slice of stunningly slick soul which would not sound out of place on a Marvin Gaye record. Meanwhile, for those who consider ‘Fuck You’ to be the catchiest pop song of the year, you’re wrong. ‘Satisfied’ shines out as a gem on this album.
Of course, The Lady Killer is unlikely to be documented in the annals of pop music as a game-changing classic. It is hardly the most innovative record ever released, as its lyrics depict familiar themes of love and loss, while the music itself rarely deviates from the classic soul sound utilised time and again to such spectacular effect. However, with vocals as raw, expressive and heartfelt as those emitted by Cee Lo, then who cares?
In a nutshell: The epitome of feel-good pop.
– Paul Fennessy
Artist: Twin Shadow
Grade: 4 stars
The debut offering from moody indie outfit, Twin Shadow, is quite difficult to describe. In terms of style, Forget feels like something between Passion Pit and Joy Division. I imagine most readers might at this point be feeling rather perplexed, but this is not a bad thing by any means.
Forget maintains a fairly glum and subdued mood throughout, however there’s lots of diversity to be found: Twin Shadow’s efforts range from fairly morose numbers such as its title track and the brilliantly nostalgic ‘When We’re Dancing’, to the likes of the more upbeat ‘Yellow Balloon’ and ‘At My Heels’.
A word of warning though, the album does take a couple of listens to get into, which may put some listeners off.
In a nutshell: It’s well worth the time you’ll need to put into it.
– Ethan Troy-Barnes
Artist: The Whigs
Album: In The Dark
Grade: 2 stars
In The Dark is the third LP by Atlanta, Georgia garage rockers The Whigs and one can safely say it does not break any new ground. The three-piece stay safely within the tried and true fuzzed out guitar and motorik drums formula of The Stooges and Mudhoney.
The album peaks on ‘Black Lotus’ and ‘Kill Me Carolyne’ and the band demonstrate that they can certainly write a tune and execute it with the passion and energy of any of their competitors.
But these peaks are rare, and the troughs are many. The limitations of their sound quickly make the songs feel generic, and the whole album is lyrically vapid. If you enjoy this album, you’re not listening carefully enough.
In a Nutshell: Big and dumb. Music to drink beer to.
– Cormac Duffy
Artist: Cheryl Cole
Album: Messy Little Raindrops
Grade: 2 stars
Cheryl Cole is more known for being a pretty face than for her ability to belt out ballads. It’s no secret she fairs better as part of Girls Aloud and Messy Little Raindrops only highlights this.
It’s been a tough year for Cheryl, and that’s duly reflected. Standout track ‘Happy Tears’ seems to contain real emotion, while ‘Raindrops’ has some of the worst lyrics I’ve ever endured, not to mention how she’s practically shrieking.
‘Everyone’, featuring Dizzee Rascal, would be nothing without well, him, and anyone under the impression Cheryl could do anything without input from Will.I.Am was wrong. He features in ‘Let’s Get Down’, alongside a rapping Cheryl. ‘Hummingbird’ injects some much-needed optimism into an otherwise (understandably) gloomy album.
No amount of production value has hidden the fact her voice isn’t up to scratch. The lyrics are mostly painfully cringe-inducing, and she stretches that water metaphor as far as possible and then some. The world and its mother will buy it, but that’s because they love Cheryl, not her music.
In a Nutshell: Drama-laden, disposable pop – an exercise in mediocrity.
– Aoife Valentine
Artist: Cloud Control
Grade: 4 stars
This is the first international EP from Aussie outfit Cloud Control. If it’s anything to go by, it’s a promising start to their career. It’s quite hard to become accustomed to their sound on first listen, but stay with it – as the tracks progress, it soon develops into a rewarding experience.
Meditation Song #2 (Why, Oh Why) has a rich swaying start, almost coaxing the listener into a happy stupor. On the other hand though, some of the vocals do take away from the record’s atmosphere.
‘The Rolling Stones’ is as mellow as a sunny Aussie afternoon, with some strong hints of nostalgia-infused 70s rock. The drumming ticks along quite nicely, while the vocals can again be a bit irritating. But this is a very slight quibble and is actually easy to overlook.
In a Nutshell: Audible chocolate that has some niggling kinks. Overall, it is well worth a listen.
– Catherine Maguire