Album Reviews: Jeremy Drury, Eivør, Róisín Murphy
Róisín Murphy — Róisín Machine (London, U.K.)
Bringing a narrative charge to the world of club-driven dance tracks, Róisín Murphy let's her music enhance the moment. Kind of like LCD Soundsystem production meeting a Kylie Minogue vocal, the whole record teeters between seriousness and fun. "Simulation" brings this out in a dark but infectious sound that makes you want to dance in spite of how bleak it can feel. Murphy's sultry tones go into overdrive on "Shellfish Mademoiselle" with the thump of the bass and the ashy singing just enveloping you like a caress. Funk takes over on the bounce of "Murphy's Law" with every beat feeling like a dance step and the hooks always feeling comfortingly familiar. This returns with a more aggressive force on "Narcissus" as Murphy rounds out her sound with forceful strings and a disco charge you can't fight.
Jeremy Drury — Company Store (Hamilton)
Speaking to the realities of a life we all know, Jeremy Drury crafts catchy indie rock that touches on working woes. "Pour Another" particularly scratches that blue-collar-pop itch, playing that Sisyphean dread against a dance-ready rock track. This is countered by the rollicking charge of "Do It Right" as it matches the pace of life it seems to be rising against with its own musical intensity, in an ode to getting things done properly. While it feels a proper drop away from eliciting continues chorus chants, there's such a fun pop energy to "Last Breath" that you'll really wish it did. Though familiar, "Open Road" has the right charisma and sense of childlike playfulness to make a goofy driving track exciting in 2020.
Working Men's Club — Working Men's Club (Manchester, UK)
A different dance energy lays down in the growling synths of Working Men's Club. With touches of Madchester's fire, mixed with angular and warped productions, this music gets you moving but with a meaning too. You're lead through the haze of "Valleys" thanks to its masterful hooks, that create just enough momentum to let the rally cry of every flanger and dazzling electronic effect feel like the setting to a stellar song itself. The fun of the chorus cries on "A.A.A.A" feel just as cheeky as the title, but the menace in its hooks assure you're just as afraid as you are wooed. Things settle into a more dancing, indie-rock groove on "White Rooms and People" with guitars flying off the handle, to let the sassy vocals fly out with style. The sinister smirk that lies behind the grimy yet upbeat churn of "Cook a Coffee" is too infectious to ignore, and you're never sure whether to rave or thrash to its sound.
Local Natives — Statues in the Garden (Arras) (Los Angeles)
Bringing a bounce to guitar rock amid a lush mix of psychedelic riffing, Local Natives really tap into a fun Tame Impala has long-since forgotten. Light but full of a joie-de-vivre, their latest single is both cosmic and euphoric. The starry breaks swell with strings and a twinkle that feels pulled from space itself, and lend a deeper weight to the more directional verses. A smile is behind every moment of the song however, as the band appear to play with how they feel through endless experimentation on the track. It's the way that sound not only morphs but forces the arrangements to expand that keeps the song constantly invigorating.
Eivør — Segl (Faroe Islands)
Straddling much of the new Scandinavian-solo-singer energy between its pop and art-rock bases, Eivør makes sure their music isn't boring. Mixing a folklore-like tone and unnerving electronics, this really feels like it's emerging from a future we're not ready for. Such is the breathy and synthetic approach of "Manasegl" which sees Eivør pulling her voice out a handful of ways to immerse you in the depths of their mind. Their voices dances through the ethers of "Skyscrapers" at times commanding a grandeur, and a others howling in the back like a spirit torn away from its body. Right as you feel you've grasped the pop of "Let It Come" the weird intervals in its harmonies really call to this strange quality only singers like Susanne Sundfør manage to tap into. The soft and more epic natures of Eivør's sound play off each other in the cinematic "Stirdur Saknur" to land in a mesmerizing swirl of something addictive and ritualistic.