Editor's Pick of New Releases, August 2009
While the summertime rash of festivals has previously denied August a fair raft of worthwhile album buys, this year couldn't have more different. In the first of our month-end articles rounding up the best releases from the last 30-odd days that were, here are BBC album reviews editor Mike Diver's (rather belated) picks from August 2009.
Writes reviewer Ian Wade: "Good lord, Wild Beasts are amazing. Thrillingly outside of what passes for alternative music in these final days, yet still sufficiently ankle-deep in the indie, the Kendal-formed foursome swoop and soar in a way not seen since the time of Suede's blouse-ripping early days, with a fine line teetering between the absurd and the magic, writhing around in a sensual fashion long abandoned by northern herberts with guitars. Two Dancers is the sound of horny young urchins running amok through an insatiable widescreen soup of desire and wonders. Ladies and gentlemen, if you haven't twigged already, Wild Beasts are your new favourite band."
Various Artists - Total 10
(Kompakt, released August 10)
Writes reviewer Colin Buttimer: "Though it might have become something of an institution over the course of a decade, the Total series deserves your attention: why miss out on two and a half hours of characteristically svelte, high-quality dance music? This assortment is of a consistently high quality, so it's difficult to pick individual highlights, but Thomas Fehlmann's mix of The Field's The More That I Do is special: hypnotically ethereal, but more driven than the original. The set ends on a subdued note with Pachanga Boys' Fiesta Forever, but a decade on and it doesn't feel like the party's over yet."
Writes reviewer Lou Thomas: "Every song here is an enigmatic and moody blend of smoky crooning, nimble keyboard trickery and slippery treble-heavy riffs. Such self-awareness and focus is commendable given so few experienced bands, let alone newcomers, can manage it. Whether The xx plough on in the same noir direction of this debut or pursue new tangents, it must be hoped the young Londoners are able to maintain their affecting hold on the listener whatever the stylistic surface."
Writes reviewer Mike Diver: "Rarely ones to let self-consciousness stand in the way of indulgence, Mew's follow-up to their much-acclaimed album of 2007, And the Glass Handed Kites, is every bit as exploratory and expansive as fans old and new have come to expect. They deserve to be categorised alongside some of the more extraordinary outfits pushing beyond boundaries: Radiohead and Muse are stylistic bedfellows, although the Danes are rather more restrained of bombast."
Writes reviewer Mike Diver: "Humbug embraces the true nature of album-craft by sequencing ten tracks in such a way that coherence and consistency bind constituent pieces into a single, enjoyably sombre whole. It's proof that Arctic Monkeys have grown up: here, they incorporate elements of rock'n'roll past to fuel a very modern affair, and that it manages to sound completely unique is testament indeed to Alex Turner and company's cultivated creative nous."
Writes reviewer Lou Thomas: "Back in 2007, Gothenburg's enticing tech-pop alchemists Little Dragon released their eponymous debut. With Machine Dreams they've followed that auspicious and surprising concoction of digi-funk, subtle down-tempo rhythms and twitchy electronica with an equally beguiling and neatly layered album. There may not be another collection of airy (and Air-y) dream pop quite as terrific produced this year - Machine Dreams is wonderfully sensual, and ever so essential."
Find many more reviews, including releases in the jazz, soul, classical and pop fields (under-represented this month, but there are a few to sate your appetite if you're so inclined), on our reviews homepage.