May Audio Reviews

 

Our Audio section has moved online—and it’s more interactive than ever! Stream music, watch videos, plus get the ever-excellent expert opinions from our musical mavens on the newest releases. What’s spinning right now? We've got reviews on the new releases from Betty Who, Little Boots, CHARLI XCX and more.

 

LITTLE BOOTS

Nocturnes (On Repeat Records)

4 stars

Victoria Hesketh (aka Little Boots) briefly flirted with commercial success in her home country of England four years ago before seemingly disappearing into the ether. Her poppy LP Hands, on which she worked with hit-maker Greg Kurstin, produced the minor hits "New In Town" and "Remedy." But since 2009, Hesketh parted ways with her original label, DJ-ed around the world and quietly worked on her sophomore outing, Nocturnes. The result is a far less-polished affair than her debut album, but an utterly pleasing and altogether more-real one nonetheless. The album kicks off with moody electro number "Motorway" and proceeds to take us on a journey across shimmery disco terrain ("Confusion," "Beat Beat"), up the '80s synth-pop mountain ("Strangers") and down the path to full-on '90s house revival ("Every Night I Say A Prayer"). At just 10 tracks, Nocturnes is a tight little record that's capped by two standout numbers: the sharp new wave lament "All For You" and Saint Etienne-esque "Satellites." —RD

 

 

 

ALISON MOYET 

the minutes (Metropolis Records)

4 stars

Alison Moyet is loved. The past few years have seen her serving up what her fans want (live performances with Yazoo). She’s described recording the minutes—yes, in mysterious lower case—as her “happiest studio experience.” It’s also her most cohesive album in 20 years. If you know the work of collaborator Guy Sigsworth (Frou Frou, Alanis), you can anticipate the lush, sputtering sonics of album opener "Horizon Flame." The turbulent “A Place To Stay” whips sawing strings and some very high vocals into a sort of Middle Eastern metal-pop storm. But the minutes also reveals Moyet’s lighter side with “Love Reign Supreme,” perhaps the most joyous song she's ever recorded. —SS

 

 

 

BETTY WHO

The Movement (BettyWhoTheMovement.com)

5 stars

Thank God young Aussie songstress Betty Who ditched her plans for a career playing cello and began to pen dreamy pop songs about love and heartache, because while her EP, The Movement, only contains four songs, at least three of them are summer party playlist-worthy. The singer sounds vaguely familiar (her voice echoes both Elly Jackson from La Roux and Katy Perry, while shades of the Cranberries' Dolores Riordan also creep in), and that gives an added likability factor to her scandalously amazing songs. The synthy "Somebody Loves You" sounds as if it could easily have been wedged on radio playlists in 1983, alongside hits by Culture Club, Duran Duran and Human League. But it's the irresistible mid-tempo jam "You're In Love" that's truly gripping our hearts. Betty then goes in for the kill with "High Society," the best song Bananarama never recorded in 1987. —RD

 

 

 

ANNA BERGENDAHL

Something To Believe In (Decca)

3.5 stars

With Adele taking a breather to polish her Grammys work on her next blockbuster, the pop scene has an opening to fill in their Overseas Sensation Department, Confessional Singer/Songwriter Division—and Anna Bergendahl is giving a very good interview. Working with Joni Mitchell producer Larry Klein, the native Swede mines the same El Lay hippie-lady gospel of Mitchell tempered with sharp lyrical chops (the clever “I Hate New York” stands out) and a clear, pain-imbued vocal style all her own. Despite the somewhat retro vibe, big pop hooks are present and accounted for without oversweetening this impressive debut, a tender but tough song cycle of love, loss and metropolitan solitude. —JH

 

 

 

CHARLI XCX

True Romance (IAMSOUND/Atlantic)

4.5 stars

Don’t judge an oddball by her glittery makeup—Charli XCX is far from another Lady Katy Ke$ha knockoff. On the appropriately-titled True Romance, the UK singer-songwriter lays out her pop wares with a distinctly moody and personal point of view. “Nuclear Seasons” and “Stay Away” set a high water mark for gothic disco, while “Cloud Aura” evokes the gritty, cinematic bravado of your average twentysomething art class obsessive. The set is polished where it needs to be and filled with potential hits (“Set Me Free,” “Black Roses”) but forward-thinking in a way that indicates bigger and better things to come. “I fucked up” she wails over a clattering beat at one point; she couldn’t be more wrong. —JH