Review: Lewis' gentle and bewitching L'Amour, which came complete with a bizarre backstory involving the disappearance of the blonde-haired would-be-matinee-idol on its sleeve, was one of the surprise delights of the year. Yet the release of the hitherto unsuspected follow-up Romantic Times, which was originally recorded in 1985, only adds to the mystique surrounding this off-kilter auteur. The abstract croon and expressionistic mood may remain, yet the pastel shades and beachside calm of his earlier effort are gone, replaced by brooding atmosphere and vocals that betray a troubled soul beneath the luxurious veneer. Residing somewhere between lounge lizard thrills and outsider art chills, Romantic Times is a portrait of a true one-off.
Review: Southampton's own bones brigade, Band Of Skulls, return with an epic fifth studio album, delivering a sweet selection of alternative pop rock versatility. The album opens with a salvo of heavier, more motley rock sounds before hitting its catchy title track halfway through the A-side. "Not The Kind Of Nothing" and "Cool Your Battles" turns out the A-side from anything too soft, with the band serving up a cooing, more contemplative and ethereal number in "Sound of You" that opens the second disc. The slightest of country and folk inspirations waver in and out of "We're Alive", with the emotional wall of sound that is "Speed Of Light" a true highlight, alongside the jamming post-punk hit: "Gold". Like James Murphy dressed up as Nikki Sixx.