Review: 32 years on from the release of their debut album Speak and Spell, Basildon's finest drop their 14th full length. While there are echoes of their eyeliner-wearing, synth-bothering futurist past (see the glitchy "My Little Universe" and early New Order-ish "Broken", where Dave Gahan sings about 'dreaming of the future'), for the most part Delta Machine finds them in grinchy synth-rock mode, presumably shaking their fists at passing youngsters like a gang of grumpy old men. Thankfully, they're still capable of great things - "Soothe My Soul" has echoes of "Personal Jesus" - and there's enough to suggest there's some life in the old dogs yet.
Review: Recent reviews of Spirit, Depeche Mode's first studio set for four years, have remarked at how angry and frustrated the band seems to be throughout. Messers Gore, Gahan and Fletcher are not particularly happy with the way the world is right now, and have laid down an album of rare intensity, seemingly fuelled by a growing desperation at political events on both sides of the Atlantic. Producer James Ford undoubtedly played a role in defining the sound of Sprit, but the combination of raucous, punk style guitars, thrusting electronics and big choruses is what we've come to expect from Depeche Mode.
Review: Electric Youth have already achieved notoriety through their inclusion on one of the most iconic film soundtracks in recent memory, Drive, on which their collaboration with College, A Real Hero played a crucial role in said cinematic sensation. Yet this was merely a moment of serendipity on the way to this debut proper, which sees the Canadian duo set out their stall with a languorous brand of neon-drenched and '80s-tinged synthpop rich in luminous melody and potent melancholy. Nocturnal in atmosphere and cinematic in scope, Innerworld is no retro confection, rather a timeless and seductive document of electronic allure that is set to lurk in the deeper recesses of the consciousness.
Review: Icelandic intrigue Fufanu deliver a second album in as many years, as always on London label One Little Indian, and following their Sports LP of 2017, The Dialogue Series presents eight tracks that touch on neon-lit synth pop ("Hourglass") to deeper, EBM and techno geared numbers like the darker, '90s trance-inspired "Chop Chop". At the other end of the spectrum, "Typical Critical" delivers something more seated in contemporary pop while overall the sound of the album eloquently touches on industrial and Italo elements to softer wave and indie. A band to be taken as seriously as much as they are to have fun with, there's a reason why Damon Albarn is such a fan too.
Review: Ruins is the 10th LP from Portland artist Grouper, an incredible set that's found it's home on the inimitable and always on- point Kranky label...and yes, it's another fine outing from the voco-noise head. Tracks like "Clearing", however, show another side to Grouper's usual rough edge. There's an element of smoothness to those sombre keys and far-out vocals. It's basically an ambient album with an extra layer of soul in its core - check "Made Of Air" for a seriously trippy set of soundscapes.
Review: With the addition of Sally Pilkington to Hen Ogledd, the band - now three albums young - go from trio to quartet. Hen Ogledd (or 'The Old North' in Welsh) this time around transgress from their acoustic origins and sound heard more-so on Bronze from 2016 to now flirting and experimenting with an electronic tip (nerds may spot that space echo delay) with high and hollering vocal performances still standing out in their indie, synth pop style. Find some Welsh poetry and spoken word on "Gwae Reged o Heddiw" and "Transport & Travel", while elsewhere "Sky Burial" hits those melancholic sweet spots, and it's as if Enya inspirations are in there somewhere. A patchwork of witty, evoquial, sweet intelligence.
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