record reviews september 2018


Homeostasis (Sublime)

Bella Spinks

Hailing from Brighton, Spinks grew up listening to Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Jonatha Brooke; however, her debut album is resolutely under the influence of Kate Bush, whether in the melodies, the phrasing or the swooping sound of her voice itself. While that may prove a hurdle for some, the music, which treats themes of transition, rises above comparisons to make it worth attention in its own right.

Opening with the title track built around a repeated keys pattern and electronics and a structure that shapeshifts as it goes, it gives the nod to a well-read upbringing in the classics, the percussive Noble Lie drawing on Plato’s Myth of Metals with its concept of everyone being each other’s brother or sister, yet each with their own purpose, while Laurel Tree draws on the Greek allegory about planting a tree by the riverside to enable it to grow forever. Given a minimalist folk arrangement with ethereal backing vocals and percussive hiss, Sister recounts a familiar tale of twins separated at birth finding their way back together, while, elsewhere Human Conditions muses on its topic to the accompaniment of simple, spare piano notes, adding Tori Amos to the reference points.

Calm, paradoxically, is one of the fuller arrangements, October Evening atmospheric with strings swirling twilight mist, Call Of The Night an evocative piano ballad and Space Between an ebb and flow between floaty passages and a hurried percussive march beat. Listen without preconceptions and prejudices, and you’ll find beauty here. Mike Davies


Columbia (Modern Sky)


Touted as among the best new bands currently treading the boards of British stages, the Doncaster-spawned trio suggest PiL and Interpol influences on the pounding opener Gotta Get Through with its pounding drums and post-industrial bass lines, proceeding to the strobe-lit neuroses and paranoia-clouds of L’Etat C’Est Moi. Indeed, a little further on they raise the flag of their intellectual influences with the 1984-referencing Ballad of Winston Smith, etched in a dark folk work song feel, and a nod to Huxley with the loping industrial-glam drums stomp of Brave New World with its pointed reference to the Kardashians.

Elsewhere Hate Song is all urban noir menace, Free The Slave a 28-second leviathanesque anthem, Et Tu a heads down bass battering Adam and the Ants from Dante’s Inferno and, joining the quote dots, Brutus a full seven minutes of charged rock darkness that variously encompasses Floyd, Enter Shikari, Metallica and Nick Cave. Impressive stuff.

Mike Davies


Sum of All Your Parts (Easy Life)


The Scottish trio return with a third album that follows its predecessors down the path of soaring alt-rock hewn of soaring and shimmering keyboard frills, big guitars and impassioned sky-searching vocals. Recorded live and in chronological sequence, it opens with the atmospherics of Rain, singer Ross Leighton’s vocals conjuring a Kilmarnock version of Puressence’s James Mudriczk. Vocals back in the mix and raspy bass providing the intro, the slow-paced but majestic Making Waves, has pro-rock DNA, the trio’s swelling sonics further manifested in Gratitude, The Landscape and Charm School, before conjuring final storm on Building A Wall. It all adds up to a hugely impression album that should see their star firmly in the ascendant.

Mike Davies 2017