This week's best new albums pithily reviewed by a jackass
Brandon Flowers - The Desired Effect
Dreadful yet impossible to hate, if such a thing were possible. Brandon Flowers bloody loves the 80s. Earnestly. That's probably the difference between him and other artists who are a lot more cynical in their appropriation of the era, Flowers genuinely loves this shit without a single trace of irony. It's refreshing in its wide-eyed ingenuousness. From Phil Collins, to Bronski Beat, to John Farnham to Bruce pissing Hornsby again, he loves them all dearly. There's even a guest backing vocal from Neil Tennant, which is about where I became suckered in. The serious pomposity of Actually era Pet Shop Boys was exactly the kind of thing I loved as a kid, and still do to be honest. And hey, if he's going to use a wholesale sample from any song of the era it may as well be 'Small Town Boy', that song's fucking great.
Despite Flowers' crappy lyrics ("you show me yours, I'll show you mine") and vocals that are occasionally strained, everything on The Desired Effect has genuine conviction and a massive heart full of love. As I said, it's impossible to hate. It's also a damn sight more listenable than the last three albums by The Killers. Apart from the vocoder part in 'Lonely Town'. That's the shittest thing ever committed to record. 3/5
Hot Chip - Why Make Sense?
Perhaps cursed by having released their most beloved song in 2006 and constantly dealing with the fact that no matter how many brilliant and better songs they've released since, during festival sets the pill-scarred 40 year-olds will only get off their arses for 'Over and Over', it sometimes feels like Hot Chip are fighting an uphill battle. 2008's Made in the Dark was fantastic though, adding depth, emotion and inspired experimentation to the house mix. One Life Stand had some corkers on it too, and 'Motion Sickness" from their last album In Our Heads added some extra edge to their repertoire. With their latest album Hot Chip experiment with contemporary R&B elements, a fat dose of funk and some live drums to create one of their most satisfying records yet. In fact centre-piece track 'Dark Night' might be the best thing they've ever recorded.
But that won't mean anything to the face-chewing hordes though. The next time Hot Chip are on at a festival, they'll be there, facing in the opposite direction, sat down, texting a ketamine dealer until they play 'Over and Over', when they'll finally lose their shit and swing their flailing limbs into the faces of innocent people before being carted off by security. Hey, how about instead of doing that you get up for 'Dark Night' just for a change, then go and stand front row centre and have a good old cry about what a scumbag you've become while everyone around you warily backs away. 4/5
Paul Weller - Saturns Pattern
The missing apostrophe has nothing to do with me. Ah, remember when Oasis released an album called Standing on the Shoulder of Giants? Ha ha ha. Wankers. Anyway, yeah, Paul Weller's 12th solo album sees... hmm... I'm going to think of a more original nickname than 'The Modfather'. Let's see... Modzilla!... Modzilla go a little bit psychedelic, not too much, just a little bit, and the results: fine. Not as shit as other fully late period 'psych' albums, but still, it is a Paul Weller album so you know what you're getting. Standard, competent guitar music that's easily more likeable and imaginative than anything by a Gallagher. 3/5
Du Blonde - Welcome Back to Milk
When angelically voiced, bordering on the twee, folk-singer Beth Jeans Houghton hit a creative wall, she decided to throw out an entire album's worth of less than satisfactory material and change her entire sound, persona and name. The gambit has paid off, as the result, Du Blonde's Welcome Back to Milk is a metal-tinged, wildly inventive and gutsy sprint through an alternate universe Nick Cave catalogue. Ace! To help get over my own personal creative block I shall be changing my name to John Patterson, hiring a team of ghost writers and publishing a minimum of 12 spy thrillers a year. It's a natural progression. 4/5
I think that will probably do for now. See you next week.