Monday, 13 February 2012

Emeli Sande's 'Our Version of Events'

The eagerly anticipated album makes a huge impact within the first 30 seconds of the single 'Heaven'. No messing about on strings. No faffing about with the drum sample and no pissing about with some showey-offy overly ridiculous over the top vocal gymnastics. Just a concise, strong and tightly composed track. Heaven makes a reliable, catchy, well orchestrated and satisfying introductory track to the album.

Other singles 'Daddy' (WHICH by the way you haven't youtubed the remixes, then go and have a root around) is passionate, involves a bell and has shape, direction with once more, good orchestration and song writing. Meanwhile, 'Next To Me' proves to be an upbeat, soulful, strong, vocally led track. It sounds like it belongs to a GOOD Bridget Jones soundtrack. Singalong stuff. (I dare you NOT to attempt the backing/high pitched ooooos).

Ballads you should tune into include 'My Kind of Love' and 'Where I Sleep' which, in parts, admittedly does sound like a slowed down version of 'Next To Me'. But is otherwise concise, and gets the job done. 'Mountains' is a diamond track. Electric guitar led, with a gradual increase in texture that wraps itself like a cozy cozy blanket round the listener. Her voice wraps itself round the listener. Pretty effortless for Emeli, this one. But that's exactly what the track needs. (I heart 'cellos. They make everything wonderful.) 'Hope' is a strong track with R&B influences, predictable chords but just perhaps a tad too much reverb.

Slightly more up-beat track 'Maybe' uses a deliciously close vocal mike. I feel like I'm INSIDE Sande's MOUTH. If it wasn't for the repetitive 5th interval that gets pushed in the chorus and it'd been a little little bit more creative I'd really really love this track. Instead I just like it a lot. It spells out spring for me. I think it portrays potential well, it's not definitive in its musical tonality or direction vocally. It gives and takes a lot with no overly exploitative vocals until the end where it inevitably gets a bit passionate. Otherwise, I think it's very clever.

Tracks to sit up, shut up and listen to are; all the singles, ' Where I sleep', 'Breaking the Law' 'Mountains' and 'Lifetime'. In general, a good, uplifting album for this time of year, also for listening to on your bus route and when you have people over for a posh dinner.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Lana Del Rey's 'Born To Die'

My relationship with Miss Del Rey is a complicated one.... I fell in love with her in January when Video Games had been played a couple of times on Radio 1 and was then nicked by Danny Smith to feature on Radio Verulam's Drivetime playlist. I couldn't stop listening to it (don't get me started on that bassline, though) and thought it both intriguing and outstanding against anything else that was played on the radio and the British public, (as ever!) followed my lead and also fell for her.

THEN single 'Born to Die' came out...and the lips and the mumbling and the draaaaaaawl started to get on me nerves. THEN giant photos of my girl-crush appeared everywhere. She was on the front cover of British Vogue BEFORE her album even came out!! WHO THE HELL WAS HER MANAGEMENT AND PUBLICIST AND WHAT GOD GIVEN SPECIAL POWERS DID THEY POSESS?!

Then Ms Del Rey hit a couple of low points such as on French TV channel Canal-plus where the singer was reportedly 'ambushed' by the channel to show that the singer had lifted an older song to produce Video Games which lead her to storm off and the entire strop to be edited out. Her live performance on Jools Holland was quite frankly awful, awkward and the poor girl seemed unable to think of anything else but THE hair and THE lips.

The album however, is obviously well produced (well it WOULD wouldn't it, with that much money behind her), the musicality of it isn't outstanding and the main focus is of the artists' voice, which is a change I spose when we consider today's bubble gum pop of The Wanted and Little Mix alongside dance giants Skrillex and Guetta where it's all about build ups, drops and suspension. Tracks 'Born to Die' and 'Video Games' do their fair share of uniting recognisable material. Meanwhile tracks 'Blue Jeans', 'National Anthem' and 'Diet Mountain Dew' do fantastic jobs as representations of a solid mix between American patriotism, social comment and catchy, twisting, state-sounding music with modern flair. Fame Academy champ, Sneddon assisted with songwriting to 'National Anthem' which I think will be the next release.

My fave tracks are sarcastic and ironic-drenched 'Off to the Races' for it's sheer exploitation of Del Rey's innocent vocals, 'National Anthem' for its dark observations on society, sex and the US. Obviously 'Video Games' is fantastic. Shame Lana isn't her real name... or that there isn't more creative flair in the song writing.