Best things we heard in April…

Will Collins: It has been a joy watching the journey Kae Tempest has been on from spoken word poet to 6 Music staple and borderline national treasure status. Following the move to music, each new record has seen them stepping more fully into their musical identity, exploring new avenues whilst refining and stripping things back. The newest record, The Line Is A Curve, is in some ways their most restrained, but also their most assured so far. The lyrics and delivery are as poetic, cathartic and heartfelt as ever, but the music is content to take a back seat. It is often spare and sparse, a skeleton providing just enough to hold the track together. This foregrounding of the lyrics has produced a powerfully emotional set that will be on rotation on my stereo for a long time. Listening to ‘Salt Coast’ as I walked over a moonlit Thames last week was a pretty special moment and testament to the powerful impact of the record as a whole.

Sam Atkins: There were a few singles that really caught my attention this month. Free by Florence and the Machine might be her best record in nearly a decade, while tracks by Megan Thee Stallion, Foals, Shawn Mendes and Lizzo were on heavy rotation for me. 

The thing that impressed me the most this month though was the surprise drop of Attention, a live album by Miley Cyrus. She’s always been a chaotic artist to follow, literally none of her music makes sense alongside the rest of it, but on this live album she out sings just about every other ‘Main pop girl’ both on her own songs like the incredible ‘Edge of Midnight’, and on killer versions of ‘Like A Prayer’, ‘Heart of Glass’ and ‘Jolene’. She deserves way more credit than she gets as a live performer and somehow a live recording like this ends up as her greatest work yet. Seriously don’t judge this before you give it a listen, this is genuinely one of the best albums of 2022 so far.

Kimberley Fernley: The new Spiritualized album, Everything Was Beautiful, is currently at the number one spot in my personal album chart. So I was very excited at the prospect of hearing some of my new favourites live at The Forum in Bath. I guess with this being the best things we’ve heard this month, it isn’t much of a spoiler when I say- it was brilliant! They played a great mix of old and new(er). I’m writing this fresh from the gig- my ears are a bit buzzy and I can’t stop incomprehensibly humming ‘Shine a Light’ (you know which bit- my husband said I just sound like a siren- not the seductive kind- but I can hear every stunning note in my mind). ‘I’m Coming Home Again’ was a highlight from their newest release- I love the gradual build up. And ‘Come Together’ sounded like a highlight for everyone in the room. If you’re going to any of the upcoming gigs, you’re going to love it and I’m a bit jealous! 

Tom Burrows: We’ve had loads of new albums in April but my two favourite moments of the month were found elsewhere.

The first came when Fran asked for a Do Believe The Hype playlist for Beach House while I was aimlessly watching TV one night. Revisiting their career was a joy – and an unexpectedly emotional experience. They’ve soundtracked more than a decade of my life and almost without realising they’ve become one of my favourite bands. From the explosion of sound on ‘Myth’ to the quiet beauty of ‘Bluebird’, their music is magic.

The second was watching Low perform last year’s Hey What in full at Manchester Cathedral. This was my first gig there, and I’d taken a punt based on a feeling that their sound would be perfectly suited to that setting. I was glad I trusted my instincts. As the silence was punctuated by angelic harmonies and visceral noise, I was completely enthralled.

Fran Slater: We’re being absolutely spoiled in 2022 so far, with albums that would normally win my Album of the Year prize coming out nearly every two weeks. It’s ridonkulous. In April, I have been gorging on great albums from Jill Lorean, Christian Lee Hutson, Aldous Harding, and Kae Tempest. All four are amazing.

If you were to ask me to pick out a standout moment from these four, though, it would have to be ‘Salt Coast’ by Kae Tempest. On every album they release they manage to create at least a couple of moments that soar above everything their contemporaries are doing and with this song they have done it again. It’s an emotional gut punch, a lyrical masterclass, and a beat as strong as anything they’ve put out so far in their career. What a song. 

Rick Larson: Parquet Courts came blasting out of the gate nine years ago with the first song, ‘Master of My Craft’ on their first album, Light up Gold. They have since created one of the deepest and most interesting discographies in music. After the wide acclaim for 2018’s Wide Awake! (I thought it was easily the best album of that year), last year’s Sympathy for Life seemed to get lost in the shuffle. It finds the band taking their sound in new directions still, this time into some EDM. I listened to it a lot lately in preparation for seeing them live last Wednesday. They did not disappoint. The packed house was a sweaty, exhausted, happy mess by the end. Parquet Court pits are energetic, friendly and fun. The band itself seems to have loosened up.

A shout-out to the opening band, Automatic, a trio from LA, who worked the crowd into a lather. I’m a sucker for bands with the drummer front and center. I’ll be keeping my eye on the

James Spearing: April was a month of surprises. First a Fran recommended album from a totally unknown artist: This Rock from Jill Lorean. It made an immediate impression on me from the drama of the strings and abrupt ending of ‘The Breaking Down’, to the Blur-like guitar of ‘Beekeeper’. The record, complete with hand-written note of thanks from Jill herself, arrived a few days later.

The next surprise for me was the new Kae Tempest album. I’ve always admired rather than enjoyed Kae, but everything changed for me with new album The Line Is A Curve. Can I say it’s a Kae Tempest album for people who don’t like Kae Tempest without it sounding pejorative? ‘No Prizes’ featuring Lianne La Havas is a personal highlight.

Finally, after a successful orchestral detour, Floating Points have changed their sound again. Yes it’s back to more familiar electronica, but ‘Vocoder’ is heavier, housier and faster than you might expect.

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