Belle and Sebastion - Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance
In most recent interviews, Stuart Murdoch has described ‘Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance’ as his most personal album. As a long term sufferer of chronic fatigue syndrome, he describes life as ‘being way too much’ and ‘loud and rough around the edges’ in the opening track ‘Nobody’s Empire’. Despite his troubles, this album is relatively upbeat and consistent with Belle & Sebastian’s previous discography, contrasting emotive, poetic lyrics with their deadpan delivery. However, I think what separates this from Belle & Sebastian’s previous playful indie pop albums is the addition of synthesised electronic sounds, capturing an essence of longing for an ‘Electronic Renaissance’, introduced on their first album ‘Tigermilk’ in 1996. In relation to the title of the album ‘Girls in Peacetime Want to Dance’, each track seems to evoke a different style of dance. In the upbeat track ‘The Party Line’, Murdoch monotonously commands his listeners to ‘Jump to the beat of the party line!’ Similarly, the racing ‘Enter Sylvia Plath’ which some have compared to Europop, remembers the tragic fate of the poetess with nostalgic fondness ‘Let me live in shadows of your words, you can borrow from my faith’. These energetic tracks are followed by the melodic violin undertones of ‘The Cat With The Cream’, and the dreamy ‘Today (This Army’s For Peace), which are more mellow and sombre.
My personal favourite on the album is ‘Ever Had a Little Faith?’. It’s almost like Stuart Murdoch is singing directly to me right now - he knows I’m sitting here wearing earphones! Maybe giving me a little bit of faith to finish writing about this album hmmm… Something good will come from nothing…
Errors – Lease of Life
Lease of Life, Errors third instalment is an accomplishment, born from time spent alone in isolation in the highlands the album is sparse and airy creating a beautiful landscape in which the vocals sit. Opening track Colossal Estates leads the listener to the synth heavy, layered progression that the album sits on. The album pulls in themes from music in South America and Africa, contrasted by the bass kick which gives the album a particular busyness. Title track, Lease of Life, sees the band to explore previously unseen clarity in their vocals, shadowed by a series of dream-like arpeggios. The new found enlightenment in lyricism can be heard more obviously on New Winged Fire, an atmospheric and moody track which is a testament to their talent for song writing. Latter tracks Genuflection and Through the Knowledge of those who Observe crown the album with layer after layer of delicate melodies building to a gutsy full choir conclusion. What Lease of Life gains that is not seen on previous records is a sense of confidence, Errors didn’t have to prove themselves and instead aimed for what is a very considered and thoughtful record, which it very much is.
Honeyblood – Honeyblood
The road to Honeyblood’s first self-titled LP has been a long and windy one. After the loss of several bands members, singer Stina Tweeddale and drummer Cat Myers finally settled as a two piece. Despite this their music is gutsy, upfront and very much on its feet, the drums and guitar melt together seamlessly into a lo-fi, fuzzy, indie pop whilst drawing in elements of punk and folk. “Honeyblood” delves into the heads of the band members, the vocals are clear and serve to reinforce the energetic guitar and propelling drums. Early songs such as Super Rat and Bud deal with personal relationships through catchy hooks and scattered fuzz . Later songs such as Fortune Cookie and All Dragged Up have a more lo-fi DIY feel upon which the band started, give the album a final shout before the wistful encore Braidburn Valley becomes a heartbreak anthem on which the album rests assured of its purpose. At the heart of the album is the experience young people in Scotland all go through. On their record, PAWS shout “Youth Culture Forever”, whilst Honeyblood scream “Why Won’t You Grow Up”, contrasting parallels of the confusion and lack of belonging that the self-titled album encapsulates
Kathryn Joseph - Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I Have Spilled
In conversation with Kathryn Joseph, she described her debut album as being a witch curse on those who have wronged her. The album is 10 tracks of haunting, piano driven sounds. Noting loves lost, Aberdeen’s Kathryn Joseph has succeeded in making one of the most beautiful albums of 2015.
Young Fathers - Dead
With DEAD, Mercury Prize winners Young Fathers dish out 11 genre-bending electronic compositions: songs which grind the analogue muscle of classic hip-hop against a wall of echoing falsettos, songs which marry dizzying synthesizers with intimate, straight-faced lyricism. From plaintive chants of ‘War’ to the howls and shrieks of ‘Paying’, Young Fathers outdo themselves on this record, the level of unadulterated and candid emotion easily clearing the bar set by their first two mix tapes.
Will Robinson (from FreshAir’s Top Albums of 2014)