#Review: Fickle Friends – Are We Gonna Be Alright?

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Fickle Friends are a Brighton-based, indie-pop band who have gone from strength to strength, since their humble beginnings. Since their debut album, You Are Someone Else, the band have released a string of singles and EPs. However, 2022 sees the release of the band’s second full-length album, Are We Gonna Be Alright? And here’s what we have to say about it…

Fickle Friends - Are We Gonna Be Alright

From the offset, it is abundantly clear that with this album, Fickle Friends have been experimenting with their sound and made heavier use of guitars. Opening track, ‘Love You To Death’ kickstarts with a grungy into but quickly becomes recognisable as the band we know and love…but edgier.

Probably my favourite song on the album is the second track, ‘Not Okay’. I love the calm piano-led intro that quickly turns into a chugging, rhythmic song that oozes personality, making you want to let loose and dance. It’s wonderfully crafted and comprises of intricate details that make it a real joy to listen to.

Also continuing the rockier theme are tracks ‘Write Me A Song’ and ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’, the latter of which is probably the heaviest on the record. They’ve still got that pop tint to them but demonstrate just how this band have grown and developed into themselves.

This is an album to be proud of! The band have taken a leap of faith in trying out new sounds and songwriting styles and created something marvellous.

That’s not to say the old Fickle Friends has been lost by any stretch of the imagination, as singles ‘Pretty Great’ and ‘IRL’ still have that original Fickle Friends charm.

Other fantastic songs on the album include, ‘Alone’ with its echoing and dreamy vocals; the very funky and upbeat ‘Glow’ about finding someone who picks you up when you’re down; and the beautiful ‘Won’t Hurt Myself’ with its piano-led intro into a wonderfully powerful chorus.

Another couple of favourites include the disco-esque ‘Listen’ and the stunningly personal and altogether different from the rest of the album, ‘Are We Gonna Be Alright?’ with its ethereal feel.

This is an album to be proud of! The band have taken a leap of faith in trying out new sounds and songwriting styles and created something marvellous. It’s incredible to see what a few years between albums can do to the progress and development of a band and this is a fantastic achievement across 12 superb tracks.

I look forward to hearing what the band create next!

Rating
4.5


‘Are We Gonna Be Alright?’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/are-we-gonna-be-alright/1584979912


Are We Gonna Be Alright? on Spotify

Yeah Yeah Yeah (Official Video)

Alone (Official Video)

IRL (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s second album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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20 Albums Turning 20 in 2022!

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It’s a new year! It’s new you, new things to try and new starts. Unless you’re a millennial in which case it’s, “give me all the nostalgia you can!” We are the kings/queens of nostalgia and this list aims to wrap you in cosy 2000s comfort. So mix yourself up a snakebite black, attach your keys to a chain and pull on your baggy jeans, these are 20 albums turning 20 years old in 2022!

Happy New Year!!!

Matt & Rob


20. Finch – What it is to Burn

What does Rob say:

What it is to Burn introduced so many of us to the Post Hardcore genre and helped propel it more into the mainstream. Like so many Emo/Post Hardcore bands of the time, Finch never really lived up to the hype past this album, but What it is to Burn is an absolute classic of the time.


19. Alexisonfire – Alexisonfire

What does Rob say:

Three members of Alexisonfire were just 17 when they released their self-titled album! It brought a raw sound to the ‘scene’ beautifully complemented by Dallas Green’s melodic vocals. This album thrust Alexisonfire firmly into the lime light, and they went on to influence so many bands that it had to make our list!


18. Queens of the Stone Age – Songs for the Deaf

What does Rob say:

QOTSA rocketed to mainstream with Songs for the Deaf. Singles like ‘No One Knows’ and ‘Go with the Flow’ were brilliant rock anthems in their own right, but as an album Songs for the Deaf was wonderfully crafted with interlude tracks to make it a now old-school full, album listening experience.


17. Craig David – Slicker Than Your Average

What does Matt say:

Craig David returned with his second album in 2002 and whilst it didn’t reach Number 1, like his debut, this is actually packed with some pretty cool bangers; ‘What’s Your Flava?’ and ‘Hidden Agenda’ are my favourites on the record and some of the poppiest tracks but then you’ve got some real urban-influenced songs like ‘Fast Cars’ and ‘Eenie Meenie’ too.


16. Toploader – Magic Hotel

What does Matt say:

Magic Hotel was Toploader‘s second album and the follow-up to 1999’s Onka’s Big Moka – although it actually charted higher than their debut. The record is filled with big song after big song and is one of those albums that I just couldn’t get enough of. If you’re looking for stand-out songs, I’d say try ‘Time of My Life’, ‘Cloud 9’, ‘Only Desire’ and ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’.


15. Hundred Reasons – Ideas Above Our Station

What does Rob say:

We had to include this really as it epitomises UK alternative bands of the early 2000s. Hundred Reason’s debut album had emotionally felt lyrics spilled over upbeat guitar licks; it was a wonderful mashup. Twenty years on and I still find myself humming the opening guitar riff to ‘Silver’ because it is just that good!


14. Taking Back Sunday – Tell All Your Friends

What does Rob say:

How can I describe this album in such few words?! For me this is one of the most influential albums of the 2000’s emo scene. TBS’s clever writing got us either clambering to scrawl down our own clumsy metaphors or trying our best to chase down Adam Lazarra at ‘Give it a Name’ (just me, no?). Either way this album started a huge trend for the US emo scene to go global.


13. Vanessa Carlton – Be Not Nobody

What does Matt say:

Vanessa Carlton is often only known for the massive hit taken from this album, ‘A Thousand Miles’ (remember the video with the travelling piano too?!), however this album is actually packed with some pretty terrific songs, including ‘Ordinary Day’, ‘Unsung’ and a cover of The Rolling Stones‘Paint it Black’. It’s an album well worth a listen past the obvious hit.


12. Brandy – Full Moon

What does Matt say:

Brandy‘s Full Moon is actually probably one of my favourite albums on this list. I remember I actually bought it on CD whilst on holiday in France with my parents and remember listening to it on repeat the whole holiday. It’s actually quite a revolutionary R&B record with some seriously funky bass lines and synth sounds. Produced mostly by Darkchild, it’s a banger of a record. Besides the title track, other must-listens include, ‘I Thought’, ‘Apart’ and ‘What About Us?’.


11. Darren Hayes – Spin

What does Matt say:

2002 saw the release of Darren Hayes‘ debut solo album, following the split of Savage Garden and what an incredible record it was too! Still in a similar vein to his Savage Garden days on certain tracks, this wasn’t too much of a departure for him but there are some truly stunning tracks on the record, including my personal favourite, ‘I Miss You’. Others to listen to are ‘Crush (1980 Me)’, ‘Strange Relationship’ and ‘Creepin’ Up On You’ as well as the album’s lead single, ‘Insatiable.


10. Feeder – Comfort in Sound

What does Matt say:

Comfort in Sound is the fourth album from Welsh rock band, Feeder, (and the first following the suicide of their drummer, Jon Lee) and what an incredible rock album it is! It’s the perfect mixture of melodic vocals with grungy guitars and cool synth sounds too. ‘Forget About Tomorrow’ and ‘Find the Colour’ are definite favourites of mine.


9. Good Charlotte – The Young and the Hopeless

What does Matt say:

I can’t believe Rob didn’t let me put this higher on the list to be honest! This was certainly one of my favourite albums to come from 2002 as it not only propelled Good Charlotte into the mainstream but it paved the way for so many other pop punk bands to gain attention too. In fact it’s one of those albums that introduced me to the world of pop punk. The Young and the Hopeless was actually GC‘s second album but it‘s the one that really propelled them into the limelight with the singles ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous’, ‘The Anthem’ and ‘Girls & Boys’ but this album is so much more than that – it’s quite frankly incredible from start to finish!


8. Simple Plan – No Pads, No Helmets… Just Balls

What does Rob say:

It is quite simple, good old, jump up and down pop-punk. Everyone (even secretly) loves Simple Plan. Every track on this album is catchy as fuck and speaks to our inner 13-year-old, even to this day (I’m still a kid and life is a nightmare!). It graced every house party from its release until we all went away to uni or on to proper life and jobs. It still gets a spin whenever we meet up again.


7. Box Car Racer – Box Car Racer

What does Rob say:

Some say this was the beginning of the end for Blink (I’m team Mark btw, get well soon!) others, like me, say it allowed Blink-182 to write their greatest album. Box Car Racer was a strong departure for Tom and Travis from their usual comical stylings. Box Car Racer was serious, angry and spoke to many of us at the time. It’s a great album with many emotional tracks… and one ‘punk’ song.


6. The All-American Rejects – The All-American Rejects

What does Matt say:

The All-American Rejects originally released their self-titled debut album back in 2002 via Doghouse Records before re-releasing it on DreamWorks Records in 2003. The album was incredible and although production-wise it obviously wasn’t recorded on the highest budget, it was packed full of some real gems and wonderful quirks. It’s a stunning debut from another pop-punk band that I now follow and love.


5. Foo Fighters – One by One

What does Rob say:

Whilst the Foo Fighters need no introduction, they weren’t always the powerhouse of Rock they are considered today. Not saying that they weren’t popular before this album, but One by One was the driving force that allowed the Foo Fighters to stamp their influence on a decade and a generation of rock lovers. It’s just a straight up rock album and that’s why so many of us loved it. Done, and I’m onto the next one…


4. Justin Timberlake – Justified

What does Rob say:

I am no pop fan, anyone who knows me will testify to that, but a friend once told me to be less snobbish about pop music and shoved Justified into my ears. I love this album because every song is different but it still holds together as an album. It showed me and lots of others that pop music didn’t have to be shit, and the coming out of the 90s there was a lot of shit. This album, is full of great sing-a-long beauties.


3. New Found Glory – Sticks and Stones

What does Rob say:

Matt! Why isn’t this number one?! Ok I am bias when it comes to Pop Punk but this album influenced so many amazing bands that went on to even greater things than NFG managed at their peak. EVERY song is jump up and down excitement with great hooks and the introduction of breakdowns outside of metal. In a year where the other big hitters in pop punk weren’t releasing any new albums, New Found Glory stepped in and filled the void. It’s peak Warped Tour, Drive-Thru Records and giant skater shoes. If you know what those things are then 2002 was definitely your year!


2. Avril Lavigne – Let Go

What does Matt say:

Let Go was the debut album from pop punk princess, Avril Lavigne and was credited as the biggest pop debut of 2002; it was certified seven-times Platinum in the United States alone! Let Go had sold over 16 million copies worldwide becoming Lavigne’s biggest-selling album to date and the best selling album of the 21st century by a Canadian artist. It’s packed with huge tracks that are pure gold; from ‘Complicated’, ‘Sk8er Boi’ and ‘I’m With You’, to ‘Anything But Ordinary’ and ‘Things I’ll Never Say’ this is a massive debut album that has stood the test of time.


1. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head

What does Matt say:

Well, we’re at the Number 1 spot and who else could we have chosen but the superb Coldplay and their remarkable second album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. This record makes greater use of the electric guitar and piano than the band’s debut and scored the band 3 Grammy Awards. It’s packed to the brim with beautiful melodies and euphoric soundscapes from the likes of ‘In My Place’, ‘The Scientist’ and of course, the massive single, ‘Clocks’. This deserves top spot on our list for being so wonderfully crafted and such a brilliant album, from a cracking British band that have gone from strength to strength since their debut.


HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

We hope you’ve enjoyed our review of 20 albums turning 20 years old in 2022! What do you think of them? How would you have rated and ranked them? Are there any other albums you’d have included on the list? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Delaire The Liar – EAT YOUR OWN (EP)

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Delaire the Liar have been on a steady rise over the past few years, relentlessly gracing local scenes and touring alongside some great UK talent such as Creeper, Coldbones and The Young Hearts. However, it might be time for Delaire to step into the light for themselves with EAT YOUR OWN, which shows that they have smashed it!

Delaire The Liar - EAT YOUR OWN

To kick off, this EP skirts that fine line of feeling raw and edgy without also feeling like you recorded it using an iPhone and the headphones that came in the box, whilst sat in your mate’s car (don’t lie, we’ve all been there!). Vocally it’s a superb range of emotional breaking, like with the intro to ‘NO ENTRY’ and also ‘FURNACE’; whilst also falling right back to almost a whisper. Ffin Colley’s vocals are well complimented in ‘FURNACE’ by others in the band, just to further add a level of contrast in promoting an emotional record.

And that was also the aim here, Delaire are trying to purvey some deep-level issues. Lyrically, they are not clumsily trying to sew in unnecessary metaphors. It’s hard-hitting and straight-to-the-point, covering the suicide of a loved one, serious illness, love, loss but mostly sacrifice for the ones we care about. The record hits hardest in ‘NO ACCIDENT’, where we are introduced to just guitar and vocal, pulling us into a story of helping a loved one in crisis (I won’t give away the story). There’s no building here, you’re smacked straight in the face a euphoric crescendo of melody as if emotions have just burst, much like they would in the story described throughout the song. It’s the only place on the EP where the raw tone disappears and it’s used to great effect. It’s short and well-written into the track.

Instrumentally, it’s hard to notice what’s going on as the vocals sit unashamedly high in the mix. But if you dig deeper into the sound, you hear that there are some exquisitely crafted melodies across the guitar. They are often short flourishes which break the big block of sound that is used to sit the vocals. Overall though, the rest of the band sit as a canvas for the vocals on this record and they do it well. It’s not boring though, Delaire play with some interesting rhythmic ideas such as the chorus in ‘NO THANKS’ that falls off the beat to keep us intrigued. It’s the best way to showcase the talent of the musical writing without dominating the tracks. There is one guitar solo in ‘DOG’ which is messy and ratty and fits perfectly into the track. Writing guitar work like that, on purpose, can be a tough task, but it works so well!

Delaire the Liar have managed to squeeze album-levels of emotion into just 6 tracks.

Delaire aren’t shying away from their punk roots either. Punk needs to be catchy and every track on this EP has a great hook to embed itself deep into your brain for certain recall later (normally when you’re trying to sleep…thanks guys!). In particular ‘HALLOWEEN’ and ‘NO THANKS’ bring an almost pop element to their choruses. Very melodic and lyrically lead, which help to carry the EP through the heavier music and lyrical elements. Without this, the EP would be a tough listen and one you might only reach for only if the mood fit. Instead EAT YOUR OWN will be one of those records that will sit in your playlist on a loop whatever the weather, because it clicks in with however you are feeling.

If there is one thing we can criticise this EP for, is exactly that, it’s just an EP. This had the feeling of a full-blown album in the making. Lots of dynamics across the tracks, a story to be told across 10-12 tracks. However, to mark EAT YOUR OWN down for that would be unkind given how difficult it is to write, record a produce an album of high quality without creating filler. It just left me wanting more…but maybe that’s a good thing?!

Delaire the Liar have managed to squeeze album-levels of emotion into just 6 tracks. They’ve somehow crowbarred in the epic amounts of live energy they have from their shows, kept the raw touch they bring and produced an outstanding record. This feels like Delaire’s step up to bigger things, this record is thier statement piece for people to pay attention. This is an epic EP which has firmly put Delaire the Liar on my radar for future releases, as it should for you too.

EAT YOUR OWN is out now via Rude Records.

FFO: Holding Absence, At the Drive-in, Creeper

Rating
5


‘EAT YOUR OWN’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/eat-your-own-ep/1595619213


EAT YOUR OWN on Spotify

NO ACCIDENT (Official Music Video)

HALLOWEEN (Official Music Video)

FURNACE (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest EP? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

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Rob Manhire
http://www.twitter.com/RobManhire
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#Review: Chicane – Everything We Had To Leave Behind

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Chicane (aka Nick Bracegirdle) is a British musician, composer, songwriter and producer who has had a string of hits that have been massive on the Ibiza club scene, including ‘Saltwater’ (featuring vocals by Máire Brennan from Clannad), ‘Offshore’, ‘Don’t Give Up’ (featuring Bryan Adams) and ‘Stoned In Love’ (with vocals by the legendary Tom Jones). Now, 2021 sees the release of his eighth album, Everything We Had To Leave Behind (released through Modena Records and Armada Music); here’s what we have to say about it…

chicane-everything-we-had-to-leave-behind

Atmospheric is the only way to describe the opening, title track of the album with its rumbling bass, euphoric synths and haunting vocals from Maltese singer Joseph Aquilina.

In fact, atmospheric is an accurate description for much of the album. Having spent the past year writing and recording the record in his studio, there is a real sense of peaceful reflection, hope and even isolation – something so many people can relate to right now.

With this reflection come some tracks which reminisce of a more youthful Chicane yet still manage to show just how much he has grown over the past twenty years or so too. Such tracks include ‘Never Look Back’ with it’s heavy, Chicane-esque synth line and ‘One Foot In The Past, One Foot In The Future’ – a deep house cut that builds beautifully throughout.

This is an album with no fillers, only epic tracks that each have so much to offer. However, some of the standout songs have to be, ‘Sailing’ featuring vocals from Christopher Cross (Bon Ivor) which is an upbeat house anthem that evolves throughout; ‘Don’t Look Down’, an all-consuming, track of ecstasy that although never fully takes off, has highs and lows in all the right places; ‘Now Or Never’ is a rather commercial offering that begs the listener to get up and dance and ‘An Ocean Apart’ has some seriously soaring vocals that ride atop a juddering synth soundscape.

This is an album of epic proportions that is begging to be played loudly and in it’s entirety.

That’s not to say the rest of the record is not filled with gems; ‘8 (Circle)’ has some moments of pure serenity amid a wonderfully chaotic beat and echoing vocals and ‘Juno’ which is pure Chicane goodness that reminds of a crystal-clear summer’s day.

Possibly one of my favourite tracks on the album is the superbly diverse, closing track, ‘Hello, Goodbye’. It offers space for synths that reverberate through you before kicking into a chest-thumping bass-driven beat. It constantly adapts throughout the 7-and-a-half-minute epic whilst still remaining a euphoric daydream.

There’s a wonderful structure that lies at the heart of Chicane‘s latest album, and that’s that you could be basking in the sun one minute and feeling the call to the dance floor the next.

This is an album of epic proportions that is begging to be played loudly and in it’s entirety. It flows beautifully and wholeheartedly captivates the listener from start to finish.

Another wonderful album by a truly talented producer that leaves the listener fulfilled. It’s definitely one to have on repeat this summer!

Rating
5


‘Everything We Had To Leave Behind’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/everything-we-had-to-leave-behind/1553835994


Everything We Had To Leave Behind on Spotify

Everything We Had To Leave Behind (Official Music Video)

Don’t Look Down (Official Music Video)

Hello, Goodbye (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this producer’s latest album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Lucy Spraggan – Choices

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Lucy Spraggan is a singer, songwriter and all-round storyteller, from Buxton, England. She is most notable for her appearances on 2012’s series of X Factor. However, since then, she has built a huge, loyal following, from her debut, independent album release through to this, Choices, her sixth album. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Lucy Spraggan - Choices

Having recently gone through some significant changes in her life; a divorce, lost a significant amount of weight and become sober; there is a lot of material for Lucy Spraggan to write about throughout this record. Musically, it’s incredibly diverse too – this is an album that has a great deal to offer.

It all opens with the rather Western-sounding, ‘Flowers’, which sees Spraggan take on a more provocative tone than we’re used to. Having recently become single and lost three stone, she is keen to show that she’s not always about funny lyrics, but can be more sexy too.

Next comes the very singable ‘Roots’, which sees Spraggan tackle the topic of being unhappy about being told by many to lay down roots somewhere and do the “normal” thing of settling down. She very powerfully identifies this is not for her; for now she doesn’t have any roots and she’s happy with that.

Possibly one of the most powerful songs to ever come from her though, is ‘Sober’ – an acoustic-led track all about her decision to remove alcohol from her life – it’s beautifully honest and takes a real step back to assess her life.

Other tracks that really stand out include: ‘Run To The Hills’, a catchy and simplistic yet forthright song written about the falling apart of her relationship and wanting to get away from it all; ‘Heartbreak Suites’ was also written about the end of her marriage but candidly looks at how a relationship should not become a unit that revolves solely around each other, and in the process forgetting and losing those who matter to you; and ‘You’ve Let Yourself Down’ is a thoroughly different flavour from the rest of the album with its almost tropical house feel to it that I just can’t get enough of.

This is an album of diversity, both lyrically and sonically, and it’s just begging to be played on repeat.

That’s not to say the rest of the album is not incredible too – there’s ‘Animal’ with its Bollywood-style drums that are inspired by Spraggan’s love for working out to bhangra music; ‘I Spent A Night In The Desert’ – an ode to her best friends, that’s also wonderfully uplifting and then there’s ‘Run’ a song about metaphorically and physically running towards something she’s found that she was looking for. Also, ‘If I Had A God’ is an open discussion about what it would be like if she were religious and had a strong faith; it’s inspired by those devout Christians around her, however she has found a power within herself, rather than through an external God.

Title track, ‘Choices’ is a way of summarising the whole record really and sees Spraggan express her happiness at choices she has made and finding a new lease of life without being afraid to be herself – additionally, the harmonies are to die for and the acoustic-led backing track is stunningly intricate.

The album draws to a perfect close with the tale ‘Why Don’t We Start From Here’ – a song she describes as a sequel to 2013’s ‘The Tourist’ from her second album, Join The Club. It’s a song about taking a leap of faith to make a new start, whenever you want it, which is a real inspiration to others.

This is an album of diversity, both lyrically and sonically, and it’s just begging to be played on repeat. It’s exciting in every way and although a lot of inspiration is drawn from her divorce, there is something refreshing about the integrity of her writing and the fact that she has woven a diverse tapestry throughout the sound of the record too. This is a thoroughly strong release and makes for a truly engaging listen. I just can’t wait to see what she produces for album number seven!

Rating


‘Choices’ is out 26/02/21 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/choices/1534375882


Choices on Spotify

Coming Friday 26th February 2021.

Flowers (Official Music Video)

Animal (Official Music Video)

Sober (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the Lucy’s latest album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

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#Review: Normandie – Dark & Beautiful Secrets

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Dark & Beautiful Secrets is the third full-length release from Sweden’s very own Normandie. They claim this album is the true sound of the band with vocalist, Philip Strand (also a producer/writer for a number of pop artists & he even penned the Irish Eurovision entry for 2021), claiming that the album is much darker and delves more intimately into their personal lives than they have been before. Let’s see if it matches their ambitions…

Normandie - Dark & Beautiful Secrets

Overall the album is very pacy and it doesn’t let up often. Dynamically, it’s fairly steady in that it keeps up the initial pace of ‘Babylon’ and ‘Hostage’, which are very anthemic in their presence at the start of the album. Which is great. However, for an album claiming intimacy, it lacks interest in how it flows. It has more of a dance anthems playlist vibe than a gritty window into the soul. Having said that, there is some let up within the tracks themselves with stripped back choruses that then smash back into very catchy choruses. It’s the kind of thing we’ve seen from bands in a similar vein such as Don Broco and Thirty Seconds To Mars. Unlike those bands though, all the tracks feel pretty much the same, very driven and super catchy in the choruses, but that’s all.

Speaking of catchy choruses, ‘Jericho’ and ‘Holy Water’ are particular highlights on this record, but to be honest, any of the tracks would easily pass as a single release. Lyrically, the choruses are just straight to the point, trying to encompass the track as a whole with one or two lines. Again though, the album lacks imagination in its writing. The lyrics feel quite generic and although the use of some good concepts such as the idea of Holy Water drowning you (a reference to Strand turning his back on the church at the age of 14), it cannot shake some very over-used lines and clichés.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd.

‘Atmosphere’ tries to break both of the issues above. It is a much slower track than the rest and is a nice relief from the driving beats and heavy melodies on the rest of the album. It really is a standout track which is unfortunately lost amongst everything else. It’s a track about losing yourself and true to its title, really has some atmosphere about it. Lyrically, it feels much stronger than the rest, less forced and the production really adds to the feeling of the track as a whole. There are some heavier elements to the album too which are ear-catching. Most notably, is the riff in ‘Mission Control’, which really throws me back to some old Muse tracks, that I haven’t visited in a while and ‘Renegade’ feels influenced by the newer Bring Me The Horizon tracks of recent times. I would say these are the only varying elements to this album but it still feels quite ‘samey’ as mentioned before.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd. If you enjoy similar bands such as Don Broco, Bring Me The Horizon (later releases) and PVRIS then you will enjoy this, but I think you’ll forget about it a few weeks later. Add ‘Atmosphere’ to your favourite playlist and that will do you right.

Rating
3


‘Dark & Beautiful Secrets’ is out 19/02/21 on Easy Life Records and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/dark-beautiful-secrets/1539052326


Dark & Beautiful Secrets on Spotify

Coming Friday 19th February 2021.

Babylon (Official Music Video)

Holy Water (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

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Rob Manhire – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Bars and Melody – Carpe Diem – EP

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Bars & Melody (check out our 2017 interview with the guys, here) first rose to fame as contestants on Britain’s Got Talent in 2014. The pair were automatically sent into the semi-finals of the competition, when Simon Cowell pressed the “golden buzzer” after watching their performance of ‘Hopeful’ (later released as their debut single). The duo ultimately finished in third place in the series but since then have gone on to build a very loyal following and built up a big name for themselves, returning to feature in 2019’s, Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions. To date, they have released 3 albums and a couple of EPs but now 2021 sees the pair take on a new sound with the release of Carpe Diem. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Bars and Melody - Carpe Diem

What is immediately clear from the opening bars of ‘Santorini’ is that this is a new Bars & Melody. The pair have taken on a surprising new sound and one that’s clearly been itching to surface for some time.

Their 2020 album, Sadboi, was a mixture of pop hits and the start of experimenting with a new sound but ultimately was a successful crowd-pleaser in preparation for Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.

Since then though, the pair have taken the opportunity to go out as independent artists and create something new and altogether more mature in sound, in the form of new EP, Carpe Diem.

This is a mini-album that emanates a new-found confidence.

Throughout the EP, the auto-tune has been applied heavily and the bass and beats are booming, creating a more mumble-rap and at times, even trap-sounding beat – it’s their most credible and urban sound to date. It’s something new and exciting from the pair and undoubtedly shows the type of music they’ve been dying to make for some time, after now not being held back by major labels.

This is a mini-album that emanates a new-found confidence and sees the pair using explicit and at times, even risqué lyrics. It’s a clear departure from their former, squeaky-clean image and sees the pair rapping and singing about more adult concepts.

‘Santorini’ is a sure-fire hit for fans and the pair indicate it being one of their favourites on the EP too, despite it’s risqué lyrics. Meanwhile, ‘Little Missy’ showcases Leondre Devries’ rapping skills and Charlie Lenehan’s lyricism at their best. ‘Own Ways’ is another banger and a great way to end the EP with its thumping bass and its catchy hook.

Some of the lyrics could be thought of as being a little vacuous in places, like ‘No Type’s, “You a perfect 10, yeah” and that of the ‘Russian Model’ chorus but somehow the credibility of the beats and the fact it fits with the genre itself make up for it.

Whatever you think, Devries and Lenehan have demonstrated a new-found maturity and set of writing and rapping skills across the EP, showing that they are diverse and have the longevity to adapt and make something new of themselves. It would just be nice to hear Lenehan with a little less autotune on though as his voice is great without it!

Whilst it’s still somewhat of a shock to hear them now, this is the new-and-improved Bars & Melody and one that leaves me excited for their next full-length album! Let’s hope they don’t keep us waiting too long and continue to grow and develop in sound as they themselves continue to grow up and mature.

Rating
4


‘Carpe Diem – EP’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/carpe-diem-ep/1545462855


Carpe Diem – EP on Spotify

Santorini x Little Missy (Official Music Video)

Own Ways (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the duo’s latest EP? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Celeste – Not Your Muse

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Celeste is a British-Jamaican soulful singer songwriter who ahead of releasing her debut album, has already seen a string of successes with the likes of her songs being used in the John Lewis & Waitrose Christmas Advert 2020 and as the theme song for Sky Sports Premiere League. Not Your Muse is her debut album and here’s what we have to say about it…

Celeste - Not Your Muse

The album doesn’t kick off to the best start with a couple of slow, rather forgettable, albeit soulful, tracks and it isn’t until ‘Tonight Tonight’ that the album really kicks into gear. There’s something very Amy Winehouse about the backing track of the song, yet it still remains full of soul; modern soul.

Next comes single and theme to Sky Sports Premier League, ‘Stop This Flame’, an uptempo song with an almost locomotive backing track met by a wonderfully intoxicating vocal in the chorus.

Some of the highlights of the album include: ‘Tell Me Something I Don’t Know’ – an enchanting track with its catchy chorus and the introduction of a brass section towards the end, make it a truly captivating listen; ‘Not Your Muse’ is a beautiful song with its shimmering guitars and ever-evolving, almost chaotic backing track; and ‘Love Is Back’ is another Amy Winehouse-vibed tune that’s upbeat and just a real joy to listen to.

‘Beloved’ is also a beautifully written and intriguing track – it has real Hawaiian vibes to it and in places it’s like the soundtrack to an old romantic film with its string section. There are some seriously powerful falsetto vocals too.

This is a strong debut album, that the more you listen to it, the more you can appreciate just how beautifully crafted and intricate it is.

Unfortunately, ‘A Kiss’, like the first two tracks on the album, is also a somewhat forgettable song that had me reaching for the skip button. However, ‘The Promise’ is beautiful with bird song interwoven throughout.

Of course there’s ‘A Little Love’ which was written and recorded specifically for the John Lewis and Waitrose Christmas advertising campaign, spreading the message of positivity to “give a little love”. She is in fact the first artist to be commissioned to write and perform an original song for the ad, marking another milestone in her unparalleled ascent.

The album draws to a cute close with the acoustic-led ‘Some Goodbyes Come With Hellos’, the perfect closing song for the album.

About the album, Celeste herself said, “Not Your Muse is the power I found when I felt powerless…In making this album I have allowed myself to arrive at a place where I feel empowered, fiercely wide-eyed and fulfilled. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved on my debut album and to be in this position, after the year that has been, I feel nothing but gratitude and excitement.”

Having already achieved the double win of BBC Sound of 2020 and the BRITS Rising Star Award, Celeste has already had some career-defining moments that look set to make her a household name.

This is a strong debut album, that the more you listen to it, the more you can appreciate just how beautifully crafted and intricate it is. It can’t be helped but draw comparisons to Amy Winehouse throughout her debut due to her modern take on soul and occasionally similar style, but somehow, Celeste has created a modern masterpiece that I’m sure will be played on repeat, by many, for years to come.

Rating
4


‘Not Your Muse’ is out now on Polydor and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/not-your-muse-deluxe/1544501544


Not Your Muse on Spotify

Love Is Back (Official Video)

Stop This Flame (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this soulful singer songwriter’s debut album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: The Young Hearts – The Modern State

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The Young Hearts are an alternative punk rock band from Kent, UK. Recently signed to Year Of The Rat Records, the band have made a name for themselves by extensively touring and sharing stages with the likes of Can’t Swim, Mallory Knox, Junior, Bellevue Days and more. Having already released a string of singles and EPs, 2021 sees the band release their debut album, The Modern State. Here’s what we have to say about it…

The Modern State launches spectacularly with opening track, ‘Wild & Reckless’ – a fast-paced song which is the perfect opener to an album – an epic start with some killer, catchy vocals in the chorus. It’s also the perfect song to open a set with!

‘London’ and ‘Old Familiar’ are possibly the highlights of the album with their sing-along-ability, plus they really give you that urge to want to be packed into a crowded venue, jumping along with others in the audience and singing at the top of your lungs.

‘Cold Nights’ takes on a slightly slower pace in the verses but the chorus is still superbly powerful (like much of the rest of the album). ‘Still Wander’ has some great guitar breakdowns throughout whilst ‘Fool’s Gold’ is a nearly five-minute masterpiece that reminds me of the likes of The Fray yet entirely changes pace around 3 and a half minutes in, to something quite ethereal.

As far as debut albums go, this isn’t perfect, but it’s not far off!

Unfortunately, ‘Swim’ and ‘Anchors’ are somewhat forgettable and that’s not just because they’re slower-paced – they just don’t quite have the same edge as the rest of the album, which is the main reason for the rating below.

However, the album draws to a spectacular conclusion with ‘Don’t Tell A Soul’ – another monumental track that in its last minute, breaks down into a piano and guitar-led epic close that would make the perfect end to a perfect set.

As far as debut albums go, this isn’t perfect, but it’s not far off! It’s got repeat listenability and has a certain quality that keeps you coming back for more. It’s well-produced, catchy and has a diversity of tracks that are highly entertaining to listen to. I would strongly recommend a few listens of this masterpiece debut to really let it sink in, just how brilliant it is.

Rating
4


‘The Modern State’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/the-modern-state/1544490658

Or physical copies can be bought from the band’s website – https://www.theyounghearts.co.uk/shop


The Modern State on Spotify

London (Official Music Video)

Fool’s Gold (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s debut album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Less Than Jake – Silver Linings

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Less Than Jake are a ska punk band from Florida, who formed back in 1992. Now with 8 studio albums behind them, the band are gearing up to release their ninth record, Silver Linings. Here’s what we have to say about it…

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2020 has been a rubbish year for everyone but that’s where Less Than Jake come in, with their uplifting collection of upbeat ska-punk anthems.

On Silver Linings, the band truly do make the best of being both ska and punk with the right amounts of brass instrumentation and chugging guitars.

The album opens with the anthemic ‘The High Cost of Low Living’ – it’s a classic Less Than Jake track with a key change at its peak and some insanely cool vocal harmonies right at the end.

‘Lie To Me’ is next up with its punk rock breakdown, whilst ‘Keep On Chasing’ has a wonderfully catchy guitar lick and key change that make for an interesting listen.

Less Than Jake are not breaking any barriers with this record but maybe that’s a good thing.

‘Dear Me’ and ‘Monkey Wrench Myself’ keep energy levels to a maximum with their frantic, mosh-pit-inducing pace, whilst ‘Lost At Home’ significantly changes the tone of the record with its highly skankable vibes.

‘Bill’ is a superb punk rock anthem with its chugging guitars whilst ‘So Much Less’ brings the album to an apt close.

Less Than Jake are not breaking any barriers with this record but maybe that’s a good thing. They’re spreading positivity with their brand of bouncy songs and show us that in times of adversity, there are Silver Linings and hope that there will be good times ahead.

Rating


‘Silver Linings’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/silver-linings/1530304255


Silver Linings on Spotify

Lie To Me (Official Music Video)

Anytime and Anywhere (Official Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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