#Review: Placebo – Never Let Me Go

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Placebo are a British rock band who formed in London back in 1994. The band has had several line-up changes over the years, but currently consists of founding members, Brian Molko (vocalist and guitarist) and Stefan Olsdal (bassist and guitarist). Since their 1996 debut, the band have released seven full-length albums, but 2022 sees the band releasing their eighth studio album, Never Let Me Go. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Placebo - Never Let Me Go

It’s been 9 years since the band released their last studio album, so needless to say, excitement surrounding this release has been incredibly high…and rightly so!

The band have produced a record of epic proportions, packed to the brim with big songs and an extensive use of synths that has added a new-found diversity to their sound.

Never Let Me Go launches with the guitar-heavy and eerily synthesized ‘Forever Chemicals’ that instantly demonstrates the rock giants are back and mean business! It quickly flows into the epic single, ‘Beautiful James’ with its continued, heavy synth use and typical Placebo vocal from Brian Molko; yet the boundaries are clearly being pushed in respect of their musical style.

One thing’s for certain, the style of the album, whilst a comprehensive body of work, also offers a diversity throughout that is bound to prick up listener’s ears everywhere and have them coming back for more – there’s so much to take in, that you can’t help but revisit it, time and again.

Some of the standout tracks from the record include, ‘Happy Birthday In The Sky’ – a sombre and emotional song that reflects on the loss of people loved and sees a calm breakdown lead into a chaotic ending. ‘The Prodigal’ has regal-sounding and cinematic strings that remind of some sort of film soundtrack, whilst ‘Try Better Next Time’ focuses on the state of emergency the environment is in, on top of an anthemic, radio-friendly melody.

Never Let Me Go clearly demonstrates that the band are back and have used their time away to craft a masterpiece.

One of the best tracks on the record though, is the incredibly upbeat ‘Twin Demons’ that is just begging to be danced to live, at one of their upcoming UK tour dates! It has captivating melodies and all-encompassing instrumentals that are sure to draw in every listener.

Other tracks not to be missed, are the marching beat and grungy guitar-led ‘Hugz’ with its sincere lyrics – a very anarchic song. ‘Surrounded By Spies’ is sinister-sounding with its almost industrial melodies and bass-led breakdown that kick back into double-time drums and a chaotic descent to the end. Whilst ‘Chemtrails’ features shimmering synths and echoing guitars that ascend the melodies throughout, whilst singing about getting away from it all.

The ending of the album is a little more unique: ‘This Is What You Wanted’ is an aching, piano-led track that never fully kicks in, as you might expect; ‘Went Missing’ is very “spoken verse” – it’s poetic, repetitive and almost foreboding with echoing guitars that give it a sense of inner reflection, whilst closing track, ‘Fix Yourself’ borders on confrontational, choosing to focus on things that annoy Molko. It’s hypnotic and moody with processed beats that fade to the end.

Despite being nearly an hour long, the album does well to keep the listener’s attention as it navigates interesting soundscapes and controversial topics, whilst intertwining that familiar Placebo charm throughout. Never Let Me Go clearly demonstrates that the band are back and have used their time away to craft a masterpiece. It’s achingly beautiful and deeply thought-provoking. It’s an album that shows the band have what it takes to push themselves to continue growing their sound, over a quarter of a century into their career! Who knows what direction they will take next, but whatever it is, it’s bound to be captivating.

Rating
4.5


‘Never Let Me Go’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/never-let-me-go/1592498059


Never Let Me Go on Spotify

Beautiful James

Surrounded By Spies


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s eighth 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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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Bryan Adams – So Happy It Hurts

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Bryan Adams needs no real introduction, however for anyone who doesn’t know, he is a Canadian multi-talented singer, songwriter, composer, guitarist, record producer and photographer. With 14 studio albums already behind him, 2022 sees the release of his 15th record, So Happy It Hurts. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Bryan Adams - So Happy It Hurts

For his fifteenth studio album, Bryan Adams set out to create an upbeat, feel-good rock album, and that is just what he did. From start to finish, the record is unashamedly happy…which is where the title, So Happy It Hurts, comes into play.

From it’s opening, title track, to the closing ‘These Are The Moments That Make Up My Life’, which looks at all the little nuiances in his life that mean so much to him, the album is filled with a joyous positivity.

There’s a lot to enjoy about this record however there are times where it feels like a progressive step forward in sound wouldn’t have gone amiss. Additionally, lyrically it is quite simplistic (dare I say it, even a little cringey in parts, particularly on ‘Let’s Do This’) and some more poetic licence could also have been applied.

That said, it’s a triumph in that Adams played the majority of the instruments on the album, due to recording constraints during the global Covid pandemic. Also, his voice is impeccably strong and as powerful and raspy as ever, showing off that he still has a great deal left to give.

For people looking for some euphoric escapism in the form of feel-good rock, this is certainly an album for you.

There are some great tracks throughtout the record though, including single, ‘Kick Ass’ featuring a great introduction from comedy legend, John Cleese and a truly “kick ass” and catchy guitar riff; ‘Always Have, Always Will’ feels like a classic Bryan Adams track tinted with some underlying reggae vibes that lyrically touches upon a long-lasting love that’s survived the test of time and is greatly appreciated for what it is; and ‘I Ain’t Worth Shit Without You’ is a great guitar-led track that really packs a punch.

Possibly my favourite track on the record though is the 50s-esque, rock’n’roll inspired, ‘I’ve Been Looking For You’ – I particularly love it as it stands out so brilliantly from the rest of the album and offers something different than any of the other songs.

The collection of 12 tracks celebrates being happy in what has been a terribly dark time for many, and provides an escape from reality that so many have needed.

For people looking for some euphoric escapism in the form of feel-good rock, this is certainly an album for you. It’s not necessarily breaking any boundaries sonically but it does give you the lift you need on a down day and will have you bopping along from start to finish.

Rating
3.5


‘So Happy It Hurts’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/so-happy-it-hurts/1586975297


So Happy It Hurts on Spotify

So Happy It Hurts (Official Music Video)

Never Gonna Rain (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the singer’s latest album? 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: Dashboard Confessional – All The Truth That I Can Tell

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All The Truth That I Can Tell is Dashboard Confessional‘s ninth studio album. It poses as both a reinvention and a rediscovery of what made the band the big emo hitters. Returning to work with James Paul Wisner (The Swiss Army Romance, The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most), have Dashboard Confessional reignited the flame that lit so many fans over the past 20 years?

Dashboard Confessional - All The Truth That I Can Tell

It’s not always common for a reviewer to pin their colours to the mast about the band they are reviewing, but for the sake of clarity and sense I will declare that I’ve never been a huge Dashboard Confessional fan. Many of my friends loved them, but I just didn’t get the hype at the time of their breakout years. However, times have changed. I have matured (don’t laugh), or at least my tastes have, and I wanted to give Dashboard Confessional’s ninth studio album a try, to see if I can work out why they are a band that has managed nine studio albums. I’m going into this blind… (or deaf?!) having not really listened before…

All The Truth That I Can Tell is a very complete album that requires your full attention.

Initially I was surprised to find that the whole album is based on acoustic and it is all the better for it. It’s a mixture of acoustic rock like ‘Pain Free In Three Chords’ but mostly straight up ballads like the single ‘Burning Heart’ and the beautifully crafted ‘Young’. Having the whole album as an acoustic affair allows for the lyrics to steal the show and gives the record a very mature feel. Despite this, there are still some wonderful guitar flourishes such as those in the ‘The Better of Me’ to add some colour to the music, alongside the well-crafted lyrics.

Lyrically, the album has a very narrative feel. As someone who is approaching their mid-30s it did speak to me and again I was surprised. It’s touching on the usual stuff you would expect; love, loss and everything in between, but it also pulls on more mature themes such as becoming a parent (‘Me and Mine’) and letting go of the trivial past and appreciating the little things in life (‘Here’s To Moving On’). It shows that Dashboard Confessional are avoiding what many bands from the 2000s have failed to do, and that is keep themselves relevant to their ageing (and sometimes maturing) fans.

Chris Carrabba is writing about what I can only assume is his here and now. This is the aspect of the album I loved the most. I found myself going back to tracks that I wasn’t paying full attention to on the first listen so that I could delve deeper into the narrative. And that’s just it. No clumsy metaphors, just a long stream of thought written out over beautiful acoustic melodies. It’s very descriptive story telling over music that, as I already said, draws you into to listen more intently.

Overall this album should be appreciated as a whole, but there are some standout tracks that are worth their own mention here. Firstly, ‘Everyone Else Is Just Noise’ is a great example of how acoustic tracks can have a great dynamic range even when just a few instruments are utilised. Also, ‘Sunshine State’, a song about regrets and letting go of the past, has a great singalong factor, it’s simple chorus which is now living rent free in my head.

If I could have one small criticism of the album, it is that the stripped-back nature of an acoustic setup feels like it removes some of the emotion from the music. A good example of this is in ‘The Better of Me’, where there is a great build up in the music and some raw vocal emotion pushing through, but it feels a bit flat as it hits it’s climax. I feel that a full band on some of the tracks would really help to hit home, the emotions that Carraba is trying to get across in his vocals. But you can’t have it all and having a full band in other tracks would have the opposite effect of ruining some deeper emotional meaning from the lyrics.

All The Truth That I Can Tell is a very complete album that requires your full attention. It has great attention to detail in both the lyrical content and in it’s musicality. It needs your full attention because it’s trying to tell a story through a straight narrative, rather than setting a tone of emotion. It feels very direct in that sense and if the lyrics speak to you then you will love this album, if they don’t you’ll probably still enjoy some stand-out tracks.

Rating
4


‘All The Truth That I Can Tell’ is out 25/02/22 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/all-the-truth-that-i-can-tell/1580384081


All The Truth That I Can Tell on Spotify

Coming 25/02/22.

Here’s To Moving On (Official Music Video)

Burning Heart (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Dashboard Confessional’s ninth studio 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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Rob Manhire
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#Review: Frank Turner – FTHC

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Frank Turner is an English punk and folk singer/songwriter who started out his career as a part of the band, Million Dead. Since the band’s split in 2005, he has released a whole string of albums, EPs, compliation albums and more. Now, 2022 sees the release of his ninth studio album, FTHC (initials for Frank Turner Hardcore). Here’s what we have to say about it…

Frank Turner - FTHC

Frank Turner is actually not an artist I’ve listened to much (if at all) over the years but when I was invited to review this album, I thought I’d give it a listen and have to admit I was pleasantly surprised and utterly captivated by the record.

Turner is a very listenable, relatable and matter-of-fact lyricist. He’s poetic and whimsical yet not in an over-complicated way – he uses interesting language to convey his stories but in an easily understandable capacity. He’s punk meets folk, with even a bit of a country vibe in between.

The album launches with the high-octane, punk track, ‘Non Serviam’, that sets the pace for the album perfectly, before quickly flowing into ‘The Gathering’ – an epic track all about coming together after being kept apart through lockdowns for so long, following the global Covid pandemic.

Some of the best tracks on the album have to be some of his most personal ones; ‘Haven’t Been Doing So Well’ reflects on his mental health (something I gather he’s always openly struggled with) – it’s a folk-like tale with an almost ska-punk vibe to it…plus some great harmonica use too! ‘Fatherless’ (as the title suggests), is a story about not having a good relationship with his father, almost like growing up without one, whilst conversley, ‘Miranda’ focuses on his father’s transition to a woman and how they’re working on their relationship now, on top of an almost country-style backing track.

This is an album with many twists and turns and it certainly has a little something for everyone.

Possibly my favourite track on the record though, is the deeply emotional tribute to the suicide of his friend, Scott Hutchison (of Frightened Rabbit), ‘A Wave Across A Bay’. The song is honest and has the air of an open letter to his dearly missed friend – it must have been truly emotional to write and record.

Other tracks not to be missed are the fast-paced punk track, ‘My Bad’, the playful yet very talk-sung, ‘The Resurrectionists’, that looks at various people he knows and what they’ve done with their lives…and what they want to do to relive their lives going forward, as well as ‘Perfect Score’ – an upbeat song that apologises for past mistakes and looks at making amends.

It’s so hard not to mention each and every track on the album, as they are all so unique with something great to offer; ‘Punches’ is a great rock song with gang vocals in all the right places, ‘The Work’ is simply a nice little song with some wonderful vocal melodies, while ‘Little Life’ is a charming and airy folk song.

This is an album with many twists and turns and it certainly has a little something for everyone – it doesn’t confine itself to just one genre, but instead plays with punk, rock, country, folk and more. Whether you’re a long-standing Frank Turner fan or new to his work, FTHC is well worth a listen, from start to finish…time and again. It’s left me intrigued to check out his back catalogue and looking forward to what’s to come next.

Rating
4.5


‘FTHC’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/fthc-deluxe/1584829782


FTHC on Spotify

I Haven’t Been Doing So Well (Official Lyric Video)

The Resurrectionists (Official Audio)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the singer/songwriter’s ninth 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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Matt Wright – Muzik Speaks
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#Review: Years & Years – Night Call 🧜🏻‍♂️

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Years & Years is the now solo project from singer and songwriter, Olly Alexander. It originally started out as a band back in 2010, who found great success with two remarkable pop albums before Alexander decided to continue the project as a solo venture in 2021. Now, 2022 sees the release of Years & Years‘ third album (and first as a solo project), Night Call. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Years & Years - Night Call

The album launches perfectly with the funky-bass driven, ‘Consequences’ that aptly repeats the track title with a quirky robotic vocal. It’s an upbeat track which opens the album up in the way it means to go on.

From start to finish, Night Call is an album packed with massive, electro-pop tracks that has a wonderful diversity to its sound. From massive pop singles, like ‘Starstruck’ and the club anthem, ‘Sweet Talker’, with Galantis, to more ethereal and oddly satisfying tracks like ‘Strange And Unusual’, there’s a bit of something for everyone.

There are a couple of pretty sexy tracks on the record, including ‘Intimacy’ which is sexy in both lyrical content and the beat too and ‘Muscle’ with its rumbling bass notes underpinned by a shuffling drum beat. Both songs are growers and could be overlooked but on second and third listens, have a lot to offer to the diversity of the record.

This is undoubtedly a major pop record through and through… this is the new Years & Years.

Title track, ‘Night Call’ is a fun, upbeat song with a cool, telephone dial tone used throughout whilst hit single, ‘Crave’, sees club beats meeting drawn-out and altogether hypnotic vocals.

Some of the best tracks on the album include, ’20 Minutes’ with its falsetto, dreamy vocals atop a modest beat (probably my favourite track on the record), ‘Make It Out Alive’ which has catchy chorus vocals on top of shimmering synths and ‘Immaculate’ a superb, Arabian-esque sounding song, complete with funky guitars and a truly danceable chorus. It’s easy to get lost in these tracks, with their wonderful production quirks and interesting styles.

‘Reflection’ is an unusual close to the album, it has an eerie-sounding beat with some funky aspects to it and the vocals sound different than usual too. It’s not a typical Years & Years song and whilst it’s possibly not the best close to the album, it’s still a good song nonetheless.

This is undoubtedly a major pop record through and through and whilst it’s not quite the same style as the old Years & Years records, it’s an amazing first solo effort from the singer/songwriter. It shows just how much he’s developed as an artist and clearly demonstrates that he has what it takes to stay relevant and one of pop’s biggest hitters.

This is the new Years & Years and I can’t wait to hear what he has to release next.

Rating
4.5


‘Night Call’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/night-call-deluxe/1586653480


Night Call on Spotify

Sweet Talker (Official Video)

Crave (Official Video)

Starstruck (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the singer’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: 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.


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

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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