The Killers – Imploding The Mirage
Following their pleasantly surprising 2017 LP Wonderful Wonderful, The Killers are back with their six full-length in the form of Imploding The Mirage – a typically theatrical effort that sees Brandon Flowers and co. opt for a new-wave inspired palate that seems to suit their melodramatic tendencies. As to be expected, there’s more than a few fist-pumping anthems: early single ‘Caution’ is a huge standout with its Lindsay Buckingham guitar solo, and Flowers’ vocal delivery on ‘Running Towards A Place’ and ‘Dying Breed’ is reminiscent of Springsteen’s more bombastic moments. Elsewhere, ‘Fire In The Bone’ packs a subtle hip-shaking groove, while the Weyes Blood-assisted synth-pop cut ‘My God’ also sticks out as a highlight moment. Of course, Imploding The Mirage is a little goofy and derivative in certain spots, but overall, you can’t knock that The Killers still really know how to write a strong hook, and they’ve certainly matured a lot better than many of their 2000s indie contemporaries.
Cut Copy – Freeze, Melt
Melbourne electronic outfit Cut Copy experienced an astronomic rise to critical appeal after the back-to-back success of In Ghost Colours and Zonoscope, yet seemed to stagnate creatively on subsequent efforts, with some listeners questioning whether the band had much left in the tank by the time Haiku From Zero had come and gone. Freeze, Melt aims to rectify this, with frontman Dan Whitford diverting the group into a much more spacious, introspective direction. The production across Freeze, Melt is simply breathtaking: the pulsating synth pads sit wonderfully in the mix, while bit-crushers, modular drones and white noise is used to create a glimmering sound-bed on ‘Rain’, ‘Stop, Horizon’ and ‘In Transit’. Meanwhile, ‘A Perfect Day’ and ‘Like Breaking Glass’ present Cut Copy’s penchant for making club-ready bangers in a new light, and while Whitford’s lyricism does border on platitude territory on these tracks at times, it’s hardly inoffensive. A welcome venture into what could be an exciting new direction for this beloved band.
Bright Eyes – Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was
Who would have ever expected a new Bright Eyes album in 2020? A full 15 years after Conor Oberst won over the world with his impassioned Jay Leno anti-Bush performance, the indie folk star has reunited with Nate Walcott and Mick Mogis for Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was, the group’s first new album since 2011. Clocking in at almost an hour across 14 tracks, Down In The Weeds is a hefty slog, but it’s totally worth it: Oberst sounds reinvigorated even on the record’s more morose moments, and Walcott and Mogis’ contributions really help to paint the album in a cinematic widescreen scope on songs like ‘One And Done’ and ‘Tilt-A-Whirl’. Revered session drummer Jon Theodore (Mars Volta, Queens Of The Stone Age) and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea make several guest turns on the album to add some punch to the rhythm section. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the ‘Hotline Bling’/‘Why Can’t We Live Together’ drum machine rhythm on ‘Pan Broom’ for a giddy little musical easter egg
Briggs – Always Was EP
Firebrand rapper and Shepparton legend Briggs has offered a taste of what to expect from his upcoming full-length album with new EP Always Was. Opening with the burly boom-bap drums of ‘Apollo’, Briggs lets his gruff flow drive the track to make for a strong start to the album, while ‘Go To War’ pairs a memorable guest turn from Thelma Plum with some rousing trap production and an energetic vocal performance from Briggs. ‘That’s Money’ and ‘Sox Hat’ sees the rapper follow a similar blueprint to achieve similarly exceptional results, with Briggs’ flow and presence on the microphone seeming to suit the hard knocking bass and scattered hi-hats of these beats significantly more than the mid-00s bounce of ‘Extra Extra’. It’s not perfect, but Always Was is yet another reminder that Briggs is one of Australia’s most prolific rappers to date, and he’s brimming with more creativity now than ever before.
Bambi – Unfolding EP
Without warning, Tame Impala’s longtime touring guitarist and keys player Dominic Simper has shared Unfolding, his first ever solo release, under the moniker Bambi. A cool collection of esoteric mood music that draws influence from European film soundtracks, Japanese new-age and classical minimalism, Unfolding is comprised of six instrumental tracks that demonstrate Simper’s musical sensibilities and a healthy degree of restraint. Scattered with chirpy synthesisers and gleaming strings, ‘élan vital’ and ‘garden’ emerge as highlight moments across Unfolding, with Simper adopting a ‘less is more ethos’ to create his hypnotic soundscapes. An intriguing first release from one of Tame Impala’s most understated associates – fingers crossed we get to hear more from Bambi soon.
Honorable Singles: London Grammar – ‘Baby It’s You’, Tame Impala – ‘Is It True (Four Tet Remix)’, Clairy Browne – ‘Not The Only’
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