The Guardian Indie

Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice
  1. (Mmm... Records)
    BBC’s fifth album is a disappointment: crowded, ill-written and lacking conviction, it sounds like what it will swiftly become: an ad soundtrack

    Even when reunions are no longer surprising but inevitable, Bombay Bicycle Club’s return is striking: just four years after they split, here is a fifth album, made after they met to discuss playing 10th anniversary shows for their 2009 debut and realised they missed making music together. It’s curious that Everything Else Has Gone Wrong started from a nostalgic impulse. For all that BBC put a cosy spin on 2010s jittery indie, they pushed and evolved beyond their twiddly peers: their bright final album, 2014’s So Long See You Tomorrow, dabbled in the global music influences that frontman Jack Steadman later explored as Mr Jukes.

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  2. After three albums, the Atlantans have faced down racism, repression and commercial indifference – but, they say, pessimism is the easy way out

    Last February, Algiers released one of the most extraordinary tracks of 2019. Can the Sub_Bass Speak? was a five-minute collage of free-jazz sax, drums and sampled southern US spirituals, over which Franklin Fisher recounted the insults and misconceptions he has received as the African-American frontman of this uncategorisable group – ranging from: “You remind me of Lenny Kravitz” to, “Fuck your experience … you ain’t from the hood”.

    Sitting in a London cafe with his bandmate, bassist Ryan Mahan, Fisher explains that he wrote it “so that I would never have to discuss my race any more with the white media. They don’t understand what you’re doing as a person of colour in a context that is not – very reductively – black.”

    The political situation is complex so the ways of speaking about it must be complex because otherwise it’s anachronistic

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  3. (Ignition)
    Without abandoning the well-executed anthemics that form the basis of their success, the Manchester band’s sixth album weighs in on the subjects of ageing, alcohol and mental health

    Just before Christmas, the Official Charts Company published the Top 100 biggest-selling singles and albums of the 2010s. If you needed evidence of the commercial collapse of British alt-rock, there it was, in stark figures. The most successful song of the last decade in the genre once called indie was Mr Brightside by the Killers, a single that was actually released 16 years ago, followed by Oasis’s Wonderwall, a song ready to celebrate its silver jubilee. Amid the pop stars and heritage rockers on the album chart, meanwhile, only the Arctic Monkeys, out of all the kind of artists who used to be the NME’s lifeblood, made a showing: an entire genre, once huge, reduced to one band.

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  4. Butlin’s, Bognor Regis
    John Cale and Jesus and Mary Chain line up with newbies Black Country, New Road and Nova Twins in a January festival as bracing as the wind whipping off the Channel

    While much of the country detoxes after Christmas and new year, a small corner of the south coast continues toxing like nothing’s the matter.

    Lubricated with a blend of lager and glucose-intense alcopops that would profoundly trouble Joe Wicks, Rockaway Beach, which takes over a Butlin’s holiday camp in Bognor Regis, nevertheless manages to blow at least some cobwebs away with a weekend of diverse indie rock that’s often as bracing as the wind whipping off the Channel.

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  5. (Memphis Industries)

    A concept album viewing the last century through the filter of the first world war, Field Music’s seventh album was initially composed and performed by Peter and David Brewis for the Imperial War Museum early last year. Each of its 19 tracks reflects on a different consequence of the great war, whether in the form of societal change (council housing; female suffrage) or technological advances (in foetal medicine; the invention of sanitary towels).

    Such is the ambitious scope of the concept, however, that the individual songs can seem like an afterthought, eclipsed by the weight of all that they’re trying to say. I Thought You Were Something Else, for example, is a perfectly pleasant minute of instrumental loungey jazz that purports to be about a breakthrough in epidemiology in the wake of the 1919 flu pandemic, but could just as plausibly be about Aston Villa’s 1982 European Cup triumph. As a consequence, while the elastic basslines of the Talking Heads-indebted Only in a Man’s World and Money Is a Memory stand out, Making a New World works best as a single piece of music, not least because some of its interstices are too fragile to stand unaided.

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