The Guardian Indie

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  1. Hammersmith Apollo, London
    This glorious final gig by the fearless Cumbrians almost makes you wish bands would break up more often

    Of all the 2000s indie bands you wish would see the writing on the wall, Wild Beasts are not one of them. Last September, the Cumbrian four-piece announced that, after releasing five albums, it was “time to leave this orbit”. You’d praise their self-awareness (critics agreed their last album, 2016’s Boy King, was their least remarkable) if they weren’t leaving such a gaping hole in the scene. It’s hard to think of another band who has so compellingly revelled and recoiled at masculinity, deconstructed and delighted in sexuality.

    When bands split, fans are usually privy to the wreckage rather than the last rites. The knowledge that tonight’s gig is the last time they will ever perform these songs (Wild Beasts have sworn they won’t reunite) makes every moment unbearably poignant. Their manifold lyrics about loss and regret become gut punches. “All we want is to feel that feeling again,” Hayden Thorpe croons on Mecca. Too right, say a crowd that gives each song a Viking-style send-off.

    Related:Greatest splits: Wild Beasts and the art of breaking up

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  2. This film-loving indie trio find their inspiration in the 80s – just don’t talk to them about love

    There may eventually be a day when young bands stop making jangly, melodic surf pop with girl-boy vocals, a DIY aesthetic and slightly surreal lyrics, but that time is not yet nigh. Enter the Orielles. A few years ago in their native Halifax, sisters Esmé Dee and Sidonie B Hand-Halford met guitarist Henry Carlyle Wade at a house party, clicked, and formed a band the following day.

    Their gauzy, 80s-inspired sound may well be partly derived from the Hand-Halfords’ father being in 80s noir-indie band Train Set, but the trio have made it their own, going off piste with eight-minute psych-garage wig-outs that would not sound at odds in a San Francisco dive bar.

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  3. (4AD)

    ‘It so happens that, right now, a lot of the things I’ve been talking about for the last 10 years of doing this project are all coming to a head in the mainstream,” Meghan Remy – AKA US Girls – said recently. The #MeToo campaign and other movements have placed issues such as domestic violence and male abuse of power at the heart of the political agenda and into everyday conversation in ways Remy couldn’t have imagined when she was making albums for a succession of US indie labels. So the second work for 4AD by the Toronto-based, Illinois-born artist arrives with perfect timing, and tackles difficult issues with her most accessible music so far.

    The mix of classic 60s girl group and disco-era Blondie is so gloriously celebratory that it’s not always obvious that she is singing about something as harrowing as domestic violence. That subject rears its ugly head most vividly in the innocuously titled track Incidental Boogie, which unflinchingly explores abuse and denial (“No marks and no evidence” and “I feel brutalised, but closer to him”) over fizzing sci-fi funk. Remy isn’t the first artist to musically sweeten a bitter lyrical pill, but her collaboration with Toronto musical collective the Cosmic Range (who include her husband, Maximilian Turnbull) makes an effective vehicle for sharp ruminations on topics such as factory work hell (Rage of Plastics), violent revenge on an abuser (Velvet 4 Sale) and her disappointment with American politics (Mad As Hell).

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  4. (Domino)

    It is 14 years since Franz Ferdinand helped propel indie into the British mainstream with their single Take Me Out, a lustful song that mixed Roxy Music’s polished theatrics with the spiky, wry post-punk of Josef K. Yet while the Glasgow group were easy to admire, they were hard to truly love, lacking the sweaty warmth that emanated from their more ramshackle peers. Their fifth album finds them still with the same problem: it’s a collection of coolly masterful tracks that tend to feel clever rather than endearing. The trade-off is apparent on the titular opener (Always Ascending is a reference to a sonic trick whereby a piece of music seems to be constantly building to a climax), which matches its tightly coiled disco beat to a melody that systemically slackens into something sweepingly poppy. The same goes for Lazy Boy, which is memorable for vaguely creepy lyrics and a highly enjoyable psychobilly riff.

    Much of the appeal of Franz Ferdinand’s mechanical pop-rock is conditional on your taste for Alex Kapranos’s impassive and slightly strained croon. No more so than during a two-song interlude halfway through the album – The Academy Award and Lois Lane – during which the jerky blasts of noise are replaced by the kind of twee, narrative-heavy orchestral pop practiced by the Divine Comedy. It’s a style that demands a charismatic voice, and lyrics that walk the fine line between acerbic and heartbreaking. Yet while the storytelling is suitably eccentric, there remains something inhibited and unfeeling about Franz Ferdinand’s songwriting. It’s like a geometric diagram of an evocative pop song, rather than the real thing.

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