Rock, May 2023

hfnalbum.pngYo La Tengo
This Stupid World
Matador OLE1929CD; LP: OLE1929LE

Since their inception in 1984, Yo La Tengo's broad musical tastes have been reflected both in their eclectic choice of cover versions and an ability to boil their influences down into sparsely constructed songs where pop meets experimentation. 2018's There's A Riot Goin' On felt like an escape from the world into a reassuring inner space, but This Stupid World is filled with disquiet, and a sense of time passing: singer and guitarist Ira Kaplan attempts to escape from its flow on 'Fallout'. There's an urgency and an abrasiveness to the guitars, which build to a roar over Georgia Hubley's unadorned pounding drums on the title track, but the album resolves with the drift of her softly-sung closer, 'Miles Away'. MB


Ne Obliviscaris
Season Of Mist SOM573D; LP: SOM573LP

Back in 2007 eyebrows were raised when Norwegian death metal band Dimmu Borgir recorded with the Prague Philharmonic, but this kind of crossover has become an accepted addition to the genre and Australian 'progressive extreme metal' band Ne Obliviscaris add flamboyant string parts to their dense riffing, superfast pummelling drums and demonic growls. These dark elements are contrasted by nimble bass guitar, melodic 'clean' singing, sweet toned electric, and even acoustic guitar on 'Misericorde II', which builds from a hushed start to a thrilling conclusion. It's vivid, brilliantly played, with the bombast and melodrama turned up to 11. MB


The Necks
Northern Spy NS158; LP: LPNS158

It's a bit of a stretch to label this Australian trio 'rock', but despite their double-bass, drums and keyboards lineup they aren't a jazz trio either – or any easily defined category. The Necks are known for their immersive hour-long numbers that explore repetitive elements, but on Travel we have four 20-minute improvisations – reflecting the way they start each practice session – with overdubs. On 'Signal' the bass turns around on two chords, with the drums juggling the beat beneath lyrical Hammond organ and piano figures. 'Imprinting' is looser but equally mesmeric and 'Bloodstream' more abstract; but all are imbued with The Necks' singular magic. MB


The Slow Readers Club
Knowledge Freedom Power
Velveteen SRC034CD; LP: SRC034LP

'Modernise' kicks off the Manchester quartet's sixth studio album with attention-grabbing, garish synth fanfares and thundering tom-toms, and an addictive verse melody that shifts up into an anthemic chorus. On it they address issues of 'technofear', a nod to those struggling with the speed of technological progress. Although this electro-indie style dominates, 'Lay Your Troubles On Me', with its silvery guitar lines, finds them in a more contemplative mood. Aaron Starkie's vocals carry a yearning quality and on the title track, a mix of hipness, positivity and a plea for emancipation as he exhorts us to join 'a world full of beauty and wonder'. MB