Album reviews: new offerings from Eagles of Death Metal, Editors, New Order and Kurt Vile
California garage rockers' album is their first in seven years; Hong Kong-bound New Order feel incomplete without bassist Peter Hook
Eagles of Death Metal
Ginger giant Josh Homme, taking time out from his Queens of the Stone Age day job to drum for his other band, once summed up the sound of Eagles of Death Metal perfectly, describing it as "bluegrass slide guitar mixed with stripper drum beats and Canned Heat vocals". Formed in 1998, with his high school buddy Jesse "Boots Electric" Hughes (who also describes their raucous rock as "dick-shaking, titty-wobbling, let's-get-down, what's-up-girl music"), Zipper Down is the garage rockers' first album in seven years. The lesser-known Hughes is the wild rock star you've always wanted to be, and Zipper Down rattles along the same treacherous path of high-spirited fun as their previous three albums (and the whole of The Ramones' career). The sleazy smudged lippy cover of Duran Duran's Save a Prayer shows the vocalist can actually nail a tune as well as the odd porn star (he is dating former starlet Tuesday Cross), while on Silverlake, Hughes mocks the cool hipsters of Los Angeles, relentlessly bellowing "don't you know who I am?" over a fuzzed-up stomp.
Play It Again Sam
When British indie rockers Editors - known for their taut dark sound - decamped to an isolated haven in western Scotland to record In Dream, their fifth album, and the second since the departure of lead guitarist Chris Urbanowicz, it was never likely to be a light-hearted pop affair. Greatly influenced by Joy Division and Echo and the Bunnymen, opener No Harm certainly backs up that presumption, with possibly the trippiest and gloomiest track of their 10-year career, and it's moody and wonderful. Lead singer Tom Smith has described these tracks "as the sound of us learning to walk again", and on Salvation it sounds like they are treading carefully in the footprints of Depeche Mode. The 1980s electronic undercurrent that producer Flood introduced on 2013's The Weight of Your Love is also strong on Forgiveness, the alt-poppy All the Kings and the upbeat Numan-esque Life is a Fear, a twisted synth riff leading into a typically soaring Smith chorus. Slowdive's Rachel Goswell adds haunting vocals to the beautifully plaintive duet The Law.
To say there's little love lost between New Order frontman Bernard Sumner and his former bass player Peter Hook would be like saying fellow Madchester raver Shaun Ryder is quite good at necking drugs. Whether Barney cares to admit it, Hooky's melodic bass was an integral part of the band's sound up until his acrimonious departure in 2011. Would Blue Monday have been the timeless dance classic it is without Hook's human touch? Hook says his former bandmates are "pretending to be New Order, and it's pretty obvious to anyone who knows New Order that they're not New Order". Music Complete is the Clockenflap headliners' 10th studio album and their first in a decade. Presenting new bassist Tom Chapman, it also welcomes keyboardist Gillian Gilbert back on board along with guest vocalists The Killers' Brandon Flowers, La Roux's Elly Jackson and Iggy Pop. Making a return to their more electronic dance floor roots, Sumner, who was never the greatest vocalist, wisely lets the emphatic beats and driving rhythms do the talking, but no matter how glorious the chorus, the music feels incomplete without captain Hook.
B'lieve I'm Goin Down
When your sixth solo album of psychedelic indie folk comes with the seal of approval from Kim Gordon, you must be continuing along the right path. The Sonic Youth musician says of Kurt Vile and his new long-player B'lieve I'm Goin Down, "a boy/man with an old soul voice in the age of digital everything becoming something else, which is why this focused, brilliantly clear and seemingly candid record is a breath of fresh air". Fair praise indeed for the former founding member of The War on Drugs, although from the opening lead single Pretty Pimpin it appears Vile has popped back into the darkness following the blissed-out haze of 2013's Wakin on a Pretty Daze. Built around one of the slacker king's most upbeat grooves, Pretty Pimpin still has that subdued lo-fi vibe thanks to Vile's lazy Philly drawl. The driving banjo riff of I'm an Outlaw apes Neil Young, while the Americana stomp of Dust Bunnies only serves to highlight Vile as his generation's Springsteen or Petty. Wild Imagination is just the singer-songwriter at his sincere and fragile best.