Music reviews: Lucy Rose, Years & Years, Between the Buried and Me
Rose's wispy vocals stifle her second album's synth-driven sound; Years & Years the BBC contest winners' pure pop debut
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or a musician by an ill-advised cover version, but it’s going to take a lot from English singer songwriter Lucy Rose’s second album to wipe away any lingering memories of her bland and dreary cover of Primal Scream’s Movin’ on Up. Despite being used in a mobile phone ad campaign, it was a song that served only to highlight the fragility of her underwhelming voice.
The follow-up to her 2012 debut of pleasantly comfortable folk Like I Used To, Work it Out sees the occasional Bombay Bicycle Club backing vocalist swap the sparse tenderness for a little more radiant summery pop. Produced by Rich Cooper (Mystery Jets, Razorlight), catchy lead single Our Eyes certainly aims for more playful and chartfriendly territory complemented by a quirky video, in which Rose tempts hungry dogs by wearing a suit covered in sausages.
It’s a driving synth-filled sound that continues throughout, but although a lot of the songs threaten to soar like Florence & the Machine, as on the uptempo electronica of Köln, they seem stifled by Rose’s wispier, albeit charming, vocals.
Lucy Rose Work it Out (Sony Music)
Arriving on the back of a No One single and cover of Blu Cantrell and Sean Paul’s Breathe, Communion is the debut album from British synth-pop trio Years & Years, this year’s BBC Sound of … winners.
So young and boyish bassist Mikey Goldsworthy, keyman Emre Turkmen and singer (and sometime actor) Olly Alexander are for all intents and purposes a boy band minus the choreographed flailing dance routines. But if punchy ‘90s dance pop is your thing, then these are most definitely the skinny fellas you’ve been looking for.
From start to finish, Communion is crammed full of sweet pop gems, and each of the 13 tracks could succeed on radio or as a soundtrack for a car TV ad.
After the success of singles Shine and chart-topper King, the shimmering Ties or the soulful Sam Smith-style finger-clicking Eyes Shut are most likely to follow in their catchy footsteps.
Whether a band that is so unashamedly pure pop can stay the course remains to be seen. But for now, with a debut this vibrant and glossy, the future certainly looks bright for these boys.
Years & Years Communion (Polydor)
There’s so much going on across the 70 minutes of Coma Ecliptic, the seventh album from the math-prog rockers Between the Buried and Me, that they could hardly be accused of a lack of ambition.
Born from the ashes of the intense metalcore band Prayer for Cleansing, BTBAM have been pushing the boundaries of avantdeath- metal for more than a decade and a half, so even though they bill this as a full-blown modern rock opera, this is certainly not The Who’s Tommy.
The album is based on the brain activity of a man who puts himself in, you guessed it, a coma, and lead singer and keyboardist Tommy Giles Rogers describes it as the moment “where you realise everything you’ve been experiencing, everything you’ve been living, is fake”. The standout, King Redeem/Queen Serene, begins with a beautiful acoustic melody before the lush multilayered keyboards and staccato drums are engulfed by a thunderous and triumphant time-shifting chorus complete with guttural roars.
Quite mind blowing, much like the whole album.
Between the Buried and Me Coma Ecliptic (Metal Blade Records)