Album reviews: Sigur Rós | Lloyd Cole | Tim Odell

Although physically reduced to a rock power trio of drums, bass and vocals, the Icelanders’ assertive ambience continues to challenge, confound and sound like nobody else.

Sigur Ros

Sigur Rós


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XL, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

Keyboard player Kjartan Sveinsson has departed, but the remainder of the band sound as if they are bounding through pastures new. Brennisteinn is first out of the traps, hurtling along like a tune possessed, reinventing the notion of drum and bass in a most literal sense.

Isjaki bears a passing resemblance to pop perfection, its wistful “whoos” and “whees” circling around the chorus in minor celebration before being dragged off to Twin Peaks territory by Yfirborð.

Backwards speech and sound effects continue to weave a warped spell in the huge title song, which has the air of a science-fiction audiobook and a 1970s psychedelic rock freak-out.

It is not the sound of a band in transition but a group with a renewed sense of purpose and conviction, which is reflected in the singing of Jónsi, who sounds reinvigorated. There is less of the breathy wonderment and “wonder what he meant?” in the enigmatic choruses, with Hrafntinna and Rafstraumur again flirting with standard pop form. Overall, it’s more accessible without losing an ounce of credibility or romantic charm.

Colin Somerville

Download this: Brennisteinn

Lloyd Cole


Tapete, £14.99

Star rating: * * * *

Scotland’s favourite Derbyshire lad, Lloyd has finally grown into that smooth and suave voice. What sounded overly confident 30 years ago is now easily assured and lived in, as he glides through familiar territory in Women’s Studies and No Truck, lyrically sure-footed as ever. There is a more pronounced country tinge in places, most notably on Diminished Ex and Myrtle And Rose, but this is a wonderfully unconflicted collection of songs. They also number among the best he has released post the Commotions and Perfect Skin.

Cole’s elegant pop pontification is required listening, the oblique sophisticate of simple guitar styling to be cherished.


Download this: California Earthquake, It’s Late

Tom Odell

Long Way Down

Columbia, £14.99

Star rating: * * *

Talented, young, blonde, pretty, Brit Award-winning – what’s not to like about this twentysomething English lad? He cuts to the chase and doesn’t shy away from the hooks, diving straight into the business end of pleasant ditties such as Hold Me and Supposed To Be, selling the song like an old pro far beyond his tender years.

Tackling Randy Newman’s

I Think It’s Going To Rain Today is a mistake, overstretching him in the emotional depth department, but he does suggest he has what it takes on the title

song and the clean and simple Grow Old With Me, a simple sentiment honestly expressed.


Download this: Hold Me, Storms


Joe Locke

Lay Down My Heart

Motema 233725, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

This latest album from the prolific vibes player Joe

Locke is subtitled Blues & Ballads Volume 1 but that belies the funky swinging feel of some of the more memorable tracks by his quartet – notably the groovy opener Ain’t No Sunshine and the wonderfully catchy Bittersweet (a misleadingly named track), one of numerous tunes that showcases the rapport between Locke and his dynamic pianist Ryan Cohan.

Of the slower numbers, a laidback and bluesy Makin’ Whoopee and atmospheric Dedicated To You stand out against more contemporary, less engaging fare.

Alison Kerr

Download this: Ain’t No Sunshine, Bittersweet


Kevin Doherty

Seeing Things

Proper Records PRPCD109, £13.99

Star rating: * * * *

It’s the fourth solo album from Four Men and a Dog singer and guitarist Doherty, this time surrounded by the piano of James Delaney and the rich harmony of the Arco String Quartet, and even vocals from the Webb Sisters.

The Donegal singer’s unhurried delivery carries the emotional force all the way from the opener To Begin through to the lushly magnificent setting of the closing Red Sun. There may be a whiff of Cohen through the title song, but this uneasy cache of measured, reflective, loving lyrics is well worth hearing.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: Red Sun


Leonard Bernstein

Transcriptions For Wind Band

Naxos 8.573056,£6.99

Star rating: * * * * *

Leonard Bernstein’s music ranges from religious

themes to the cinema and show tunes. This bracing gallop through some of his more popular repertoire – from Candide, On The Town and On The Waterfront – captures both his free-spirited style and more thoughtful moods.

Scott Weiss conducts the University of South Carolina Wind Ensemble in a finely balanced performance. What particularly holds the attention is the versatility of Weiss’s musicians and the carefully nuanced approach he coaxes from them. Even in the opening Fanfare No.1 For The Inauguration Of John F Kennedy, there is an evident sense of control alongside the elation.

Finely crafted music played with precision and style.

Alexander Bryce

Download this: Candide: Overture