Rock, March 2024

hfnalbum.pngLaetitia Sadier
Rooting For Love
Duophonic DS45CD62; LP: DS33LP62

Sadier is best known as lead singer with Stereolab, where she explores a retro-futurism with hints of Françoise Hardy and the vintage electronics of Jean Jacques Perrey – her soft, characterful voice charms the listener into a lyrical zone where Marxism meets existentialism as serious fun. Here, her messages of empowerment and positivity are cut with wry humour as she plays the 'famous linguist's wife' on the buoyant, funky 'Don't Forget You're Mine'. She's a really imaginative arranger, using trombone, vibes, keyboards and samples to colour her intricate songs, which range from groovy pop to moodier settings, and her voice is complemented brilliantly by a mixed choir on 'Who + What'. MB


Black Grape
Orange Head

On 'Button Eyes' a croaky Shaun Ryder sounds like an English tourist stumbling into a Cuban karaoke bar, warning 'I can't sing', before getting sweary over a blazing horn section and beats that land between rock and hip-hop. Kermit, the other half of this chalk-and-cheese duo, applies his more supple tones to the Morricone-esque rap requiem, 'In The Ground'. The lyrics are surreal throughout, and Orange Head is punchy, funny and full of weird character. 'I never ever fed the wolf because it would chew my mind', Kermit sings on 'Milk' and Ryder proudly proclaims, 'We're getting old like The Rolling Stones' over the electronic dance grooves of 'Panda'. MB


You'll Only See Us When The Light Has Gone
Wayside And Woodland W&W067 (CD or LP)

This album feels like a soundtrack to land on the edges of towns, once pristine, now sullied by human encroachment. On it, Rob Glover and Ben Holton peer into the cracks in contemporary British society, searching for a sense of purpose and identity. Whereas Sleaford Mods fill that void with invective, epic45 take a more melancholic tack. On 'New Town Faded', with melodies reminiscent of Talk Talk and Tears For Fears, they sing 'Everybody is running, looking for some meaning', over spangly guitars, warm keyboards and deft drum patterns. It's a lament for a lost Albion, which strikes a chord in these troubled times, but also carries a feeling of hope. MB


The Fallen Leaves
Simple Songs For Complex People
Parliament PARL12CD; LP: PARL12LP

Guitarist Rob Symmons was originally in UK punk pioneers Subway Sect and his distinctive, edgy playing drives this tight, tough combo. Here they've produced a heartfelt love letter to the '60s. There are hints of The Who and Merseybeat, while 'Green Eyes FC' rekindles the spirit of The Small Faces, and drummer Brett 'Buddy' Ascott shakes some action on 'Rosalina', a not-so-distant cousin to The Pretty Things' 'Rosalin'. Best think of it all as some of the building blocks of rock 'n' roll reconfigured and vividly recorded. And there's a touch of psychedelia on 'In My Room' when a mysterious female visitor opens the doorway to singer Rob Green's mind. MB