Fran: There’s no doubting what my most listened to album of the last month is. Ever since Tirzah released Colourgrade, I have listened to it at least once a day and that is showing no sign of slowing down as things stand.
She did everything I could have hoped for with the follow up to Devotion, keeping that abstract and inventive sound but adding some meat to the bones. This is a challenging, complex, and beautiful album that manages to stay accessible even while pushing the boundaries. It tells a fascinating tale about new motherhood and it deserves a lot of time with your ears.
It’s been a bumper month or so, though, so I’m going to have to mention a few other things. Deer Leader have released a stunningly beautiful album that is getting nowhere near enough notice, Wiki has put out some of the best hip-hop of the year, and while I am still absorbing the whole of the W.H. Lung album, there can be no doubting that the tracks ‘Showstopper’ and ‘Calm Down’ are among the biggest bangers of 2021
Tom Burrows: Cruising down a night-clad M60 to the sound of fabric presents Overmono in early October, I was struck by the poetic Irish brogue suddenly emitting from my car speakers. “This is For Those I Love?”, I asked no-one in particular. I recalled Fran mentioning the album’s release on our WhatsApp chat earlier this year, but there was a lot of stuff coming out the same day so I didn’t pursue it. And mentioned in the same breath as bands like The Murder Capital and Fontaines D.C. in the February edition of this very column, I really wasn’t enthused by what I assumed to be yet another post-punk revival band.
But the second I pressed play on ‘I Have A Love’, and a stuttering Sampha piano sample soon revealed that this was spoken word house music, I knew I’d belatedly found one of my favourite albums of 2021. For Those I Love is at once ecstatic and celebratory, while deeply sad and moving – a pitch-perfect tribute to the people David Balfe has loved and, very painfully, lost. There’s something especially powerful about using dance music to explore these profound emotions of nostalgia and grief. It’s a genre that can really effectively use its joyful surface to explore the melancholy underneath. I love this record, and the way it ends, eschewing clean resolution for an honest expression of the pain that remains after tragedy, is a masterful gut-punch. As I discovered, it’s not too late to discover one of 2021’s highlights.
Lisa Whiteman: This month, I’ve reconnected with Songs of Faith and Devotion, arguably (or not, as I’ll hear no different) Depeche Mode’s finest work. End to end brilliance and I’ll challenge anyone to find me a more perfect opening three songs on any record. Ever.
I was 13 when this came out, still have the cassette I bought from Hitman Music in Newport as soon as I’d saved up enough babysitting dollars after hearing ‘Walking In My Shoes’ on Radio One. It’s darker, rockier DM and I am (still) very much here for it, 28 years on. Gorgeous. Go on, play ‘In Your Room’.
James Spearing: With three gigs in as many weeks, my October was the most exciting month in music in a very long time. Anna B Savage, Laura Marling and Billy Nomates were all fantastic. I don’t have the space here to give you three full gig reviews so here are three different songs that soundtracked the month just gone.
Charlotte Adigery, now working as a duo with Bolis Pupul, is back with yet another striking single ‘Thank You’. This time around she’s serving us her most sardonic take on all the unwanted advice and opinions aimed at musicians. So I wouldn’t dare say “hey you should make an album”, but it does feel more than ever before that she’s headed that way. Fingers crossed.
My faltering relationship with James Blake took another misstep when he finally released Friends that Break Your Heart. But at least the consistent pattern of one superb song, dull album continued. That superb song is ‘Life Is Not The Same’.
Ok so I know I said I wouldn’t mention the Anna B Savage gig (it was so good), but I do so if only to mention Rachael Lavelle. Rachael must be quite the most extraordinary support act I’ve seen since, well possibly ever. There’s only one song on Spotify, so go and listen to that. It’s called ‘Perpetual Party’.
Matt Paul: I also dived back into gigs this month. Well a gig. I went to see the indie rock trio Moontype. They are excellent. Full of energy and off beat rhythms. That said I am quite biased as the guitarist is family. So it will come as no surprise that I enjoyed the show.
What was a surprise was the support act Hypoluxo. This NY band have all the fun of mid-00s indie, but with extra substance that made me think of Devo and livelier Talking Heads songs. Several of their songs have wormed their way in to my head, with their bouncy and angular riffs. And they have not let up all month.