Each month we bring you a handy round-up of the most exciting new releases.
This month sees long-awaited albums, EPS and singles from Girlpool, Perfume Genius, Tamu Massif, (Sandy) Alex G and loads more.
Girlpool – Powerplant
12.05, ANTI- Records | Buy
One thing’s for certain, Girlpool sure know how to pack a powerful punch of sheer human emotion and experience into a few fleeting minutes. Powerplant sees duo Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker augmented in their sound as the tracks swell from hazy, meandering melodies, reminiscent of their greatly acclaimed debut, to heady bursts of clattering, feedback-laden ruckus. Joined by their friend Miles Wintner on drums, the full-band arrangements encompassed on this album deliver moments of indulgent dissonance and weave intricate refrains, presenting a natural musical progression from their previous release.
In spite of this bigger sound, the intimacy and that feeling of hanging out with your closest friends, so much a part of Girlpool’s essence, is resolutely still embodied in the close-knit pair’s music. Tividad and Tucker’s harmonies are honed to perfection throughout and their lyrics channel that earnestness of sharing concerns and contemplations with your best mate. There’s an even greater emotional frankness on Powerplant as Girlpool convey relatable expressions of heartbreak, hopelessness, and tenderness with an impressive astuteness, making this a quite unassumingly remarkable and pertinent record. Kezia Cochrane
Perfume Genius – No Shape
05.05, Matador Records | Buy
Mike Hadreas possesses a supreme emotive power. Over the course of his previous albums Perfume Genius has granted us sparse, harrowing melodic narratives, fervently dark power pop anthems and everything in between. No Shape, the fourth album from Perfume Genius, sways with swooning sensuality, exudes an aching softness, and erupts with ardent passion.
Opening with a gentle, glistening piano accompaniment to Hadreas’ deliberated crooning before bursting into a cacophony of majestic noise, ‘Otherside’, the first track of the album, sets the precedent for a record that confidently toys with expectation at each sonic shift. ‘Go Ahead’ pulsates with squelching grooves and inviting vocals, summoning the spirit of Prince, whilst ‘Choir’ swirls with orchestral mysticism as frenetic strings and choral incantations crescendo around Hadreas’ hushed, evocative utterances.
No Shape is as sultry as it is sensitive, as emotionally fierce as it is fragile. The songs on this record are empowering in their raw, visceral essence and also deeply moving in their unapologetic tenderness. An elegant and brooding album of dazzling urgency, No Shape resolutely confirms Perfume Genius as a truly inimitable artist. Kezia Cochrane
Tamu Massif – Bala EP
05.05, Chiverin | Buy
As we move into spring, we see a resurfacing of sounds swept away by the bitter winter winds. Pushing his delicate and precise method of layering conflicting yet somehow complementary sounds, including his own unique voice, Dave Dixon’s – better known under moniker Tamu Massif – forthcoming release on Chiverin is a blissful sonic exploration of youth. Much like its predecessor, the gorgeous Alba EP, Bala was recorded primarily in his humble bedroom.
This DIY attitude allows for limitless creative possibilities to seep into his productions, offering an organic quality that highlights Dixon’s vulnerable and candid approach to songwriting. Tracks like ‘Holding Back’ and ‘OK’ dip in and out of soothing, reflective beats tinged with sultry R&B, while ‘Iron Lights’ and ‘Rare Candy’ manage to capture an honest self-reflection about longing and missed opportunities.
Taking a slightly more upbeat turn, ‘Animals’ relies on the extensive use of field recordings and sublime harmonies to construct a charming, picturesque conclusion to Bala. Altogether it’s an assured and candid glimpse of the progress Dixon has made as a songwriter and ensures that Tamu Massif will take over 2017. Yewande Adeniran
Pumarosa – The Witch
19.05, Fiction Records | Buy
London four-piece Pumarosa have produced an album of transcendence but with a few jarring moments that ensure a varied result. First track and lead single, ‘Dragonfly’, sets the mood of the album, with the extended outros scattered throughout the ten tracks bringing to mind a brashier Mogwai. ‘Barefoot’ is stripped down to the basics, almost qualifying as an acoustic song while ‘My Gruesome Loving Friend’ opens with wonderfully bright notes – reminiscent of the sounds produced by an arcade. Listening to the album, it’s clear that Pumarosa have built their songs through the lens of a show, making the prospect of witnessing The Witch in a live environment extremely exciting. Callum Stevens
PWR BTTM – Pageant
12.05, Polyvinyl / Big Scary Monsters | Buy
The cult-like fan base that has rightfully grown in support of New York duo PWR BTTM since their first LP has exploded exponentially, simply through the sheer honesty and triumph of their music. Their second LP, Pageant, is the latest momentous embodiment of such character – a record balancing irrepressible illumination and expressive distress. Open, at times vitally vulnerable and at others downright determined, Ben Hopkins and Liv Bruce produce fireworks in self-confidence simply by being themselves and having the ability to articulate that so emphatically in their music. It’s a record that proves you have every right to revel in being your damn self. Ross Jones
(Sandy) Alex G – Rocket
19.05, Domino | Buy
(Sandy) Alex G’s new album is brimming with homespun personality. The Philadelphian native encapsulates a sense of humble ambition with his goat-adorned LP Rocket. Dreamy-folk tunes such as ‘County’ and opening track ‘Poison Root’ affirm his place as one of the most intriguing artists around. It feels cohesive and contemporary; the single ‘Bobby’ is melodic and heartfelt, while exploring the story of a slightly ambivalent relationship. Each track is idiosyncratic, from the frantic ‘Witch’, to ‘Proud’ and ‘Powerful Man’; he is able to jump between characters and storylines effortlessly. From his sister’s cover art, to his collaborations with friends and other relatives; Rocket is an intimate collection of offbeat gems. Georgia Balch
Mac Demarco – This Old Dog
05.05, Captured Tracks | Buy
Mac is back, bringing with him his accustomed summery loveliness. New album, This Old Dog, is everything you’d imagine it to be; acoustic guitar-driven tracks with funky basslines and Mac Demarco’s soothing Canadian vocal floating overhead. Equal parts charming and peaceful, This Old Dog is a much slower and more acoustic album than his previous releases, but not without sporadic shimmering synth.
Although the LP is nothing we haven’t heard before from Demarco, there’s a true charm to the soundscapes he produces, with the gorgeous layering of twinkling textures and sunny melodies. Reaching a whole new level of mellow, this one will have you gagging for the summer sun. Hannah Wakeman
At the Drive-In – in•ter a•li•a
05.05, Rise Records | Buy
Having acrimoniously split in 2001 after the Relationship of Command LP before eventually reforming in 2012, there’s a lot riding on in•ter a•li•a – At the Drive In’s first album in seventeen years.
Things kick off with the band playing as frantically as humanly possible, with the album continuing at full throttle for the next 40 minutes as frontman Cedric Bixler spits out his cryptic lyrics. The only respite comes when penultimate track ‘Ghost -Tape No.9’ sees a brief simmering of the pace. in•ter a•li•a sees At the Drive-in recapture their classic intensity but ultimately lacks diversity, resulting in an album that neither builds upon nor destructs the band’s legacy. Tim Ellis
Pond – The Weather
05.05, Marathon Artists | Buy
The seventh album from Aussie psych-rock four-piece – and follow-up to 2015’s stunning Man It Feels Like Space Again – has arrived. Yet while the Perth-based collective have always exerted muffled guitar strains and acid-fueled tomfoolery, this time there’s a refreshing, newfound maturity to their work.
There’s still that irrepressible buzz for raw experimentation, but they’ve eschewed their previous rock shenanigans in favour of rich, layered synth-pop romanticism, while still creating neo-psychedelia of the loftiest, trip-inducing order. Standouts come in the form of ‘30,000 Megatons’, ‘Sweep Me Off My Feet’ and the title track, though every track on the album are terrific. While at times thematically dark, it’s nevertheless all-focused, fresh and consistently fun. Jamie Caddick
Ho99o9 – United States of Horror
05.05, Caroline Distribution | Buy
Loud, aggressive and notorious, while making a truthful statement of intent. New Jersey duo Ho99o9, made up of theOGM and Eaddy, have rattled the norm with their genre-twisting sounds. Their debut album United States Of Horror now out in the world, the band’s so-called “Deathkult” will no doubt express more acclaim, and cause more mayhem to the masses.
The album’s title track is perhaps the most relatable, its roaring message about police brutality, racism and aggression channeled through their electrifying amalgamation of hardcore punk and hip hop, resulting in a powerful surge that’s near-impossible to resist. This album could not be fresher or more relevant to today. Mustafa Mirreh
Ásgeir – Afterglow
05.05, One Little Indian | Buy
Following the successful English reissue of Dýrð í dauðaþögn, Icelandic artist Asgeir has been laden with praise for his fateful folktronica. Moving onto his second album, his knack for subversive and thoughtful piano pop carries into both the title track and latest single ‘Unbound’. ‘I Know You Know’ trips over itself in its frenzied but flawless delivery, while closer ‘Hold’ is vulnerable with a sweeping orchestral finish serving as the last flourish of sound. Emotions are high, but Afterglow serves them cold. In a world where the likes of Ed Sheeran are armed with innocent acoustics, this Icelandic singer-songwriter’s weapon is his sophisticated sonic cavalry. In the long run, which will win? Time will tell. Oliver Evans
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Lovely Creatures
05.05, BMG | Buy
How could a standard greatest hits compilation possibly showcase the poetic obscenities, the gothic romance, the darkest corners and avant garde voyeurism from one of our final living musical maestros? In the truest of elaborate Cave stylings, we’re treated to a 45-track introductory songbook.
Spanning 30 years and scores of genuinely breathtaking singles (‘Red Right Hand’ and the Kylie-featuring ‘Where The Wild Roses Grow’) amongst leftfield cuts (‘O Children’ from the Harry Potter soundtrack…), Lovely Creatures is an introduction to their most poignant moments and the elusive construction of what makes Nick and his Bad Seeds a continued companion piece to jaded dads and Fine Art students worldwide. Richard Walsh
To see more albums being released in May, head to Rise Bristol.