Album reviews: Arcade Fire | Tinie Tempah

Arcade Fire. Picture: Getty
Arcade Fire. Picture: Getty
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With production from sometime LCD Soundsystem controller James Murphy, Arcade Fire’s fourth album may just be the point at which two defining creative forces of the late-2000s North American underground become pan-generational musical icons.


Arcade Fire


Merge, £18.99

Star rating: * * * *

But like most great double albums, there’s one astonishing single album in there, married with ephemera, experiments and the like. But at its best – the house-tinged title track, the Talking Heads-like Here Comes The Night Time, and Afterlife, a danceable meditation on mortality – it’s a record which pushes at the boundaries while clinging to its humanity. David Pollock

Download this: We Exist, Afterlife

Tinie Tempah


Parlophone, £13.99

Star rating: * * *

The follow-up to Tempah’s 2010 debut Disc-Overy looks set to confirm him as the UK’s premier urban crossover artist, perhaps with the exception of Dizzee Rascal. Its extended gestation certainly lends it a rich production sound, together with a wealth of guest talent including Emeli Sandé on the breakbeat ballad A Heart Can Save The World and most rewardingly, Laura Mvula on the Bond-style

Heroes. Yet for all its certainty of success, marrying the flatpack emotion of The X Factor with often ugly masculinity (Trampoline is a great party track, disregarding the lyrics) doesn’t say much for pop culture in 2013. DP

Download this: Don’t Sell Out, Heroes

Various Artists

Virgin Records 40th Anniversary Compilations

Virgin, £15.99 for each three-disc set

Star rating: * * * *

Launched by Richard Branson as a repository for early 1970s prog curios, Virgin Records ended up helping to bring punk to the mainstream. Now 40 years old, it should be congratulated for cultivating an output that bears breaking down into five three-disc box sets, documenting five different eras and experiences.

Losing Our Virginity: The First Four Years 1973-1976 commences with the label’s first iconic success, an excerpt from Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. The rest cuts a wayward but largely absorbing path from prog originators Gong and Steve Hillage to German psych masters Can and Faust and the pleasingly outré presence of Ivor Cutler’s The Dirty Dinner.

This set, and the next two chronologically, are the most richly comprehensive and redolent of their time. Never Trust A Hippy: Punk & New Wave 1976-1979 boasts three Sex Pistols tracks (amusingly including EMI, a spiteful tribute to the company which bought Virgin in 1992), one by John Lydon’s next project PiL and cuts from Magazine, XTC and the Skids, as well as modern reggae originators such as U-Roy. New Gold Dreams: Post Punk & New Wave 1979-1983 revisits PiL and Magazine, while adding evocative key tracks from the era by artists such as Simple Minds, OMD, Heaven 17 and Rip Rig and Panic.

Methods Of Dance: Electronica & Leftfield 1973-1987 puts Sparks, Cabaret Voltaire and John Foxx uncomfortably alongside Jermaine Stewart and Hue and Cry. It speaks of a golden age, but flags up the relative poverty after the EMI takeover.

Fascinating Rhythms: Sound Systems & Dancefloor 1988-2013 features some big hitters (Soul II Soul, Massive Attack, Chemical Brothers) but is a pick and mix of several unrelated scenes and sounds strangely disconnected as a result. DP

Download this: Tubular Bells, God Save The Queen


Houston Person

Nice ’n’ Easy

HighNote HCD 7257, £15.99

Star rating: * * * *

American tenor saxophonist Houston Person is known for his warm, laid-back personality and those aspects of his character shine through on this aptly titled album, which pays homage to the Sinatra classic only insofar as it includes that title track and conjures up the spirit of the original. Gently swinging throughout, this quintet CD – which features the saxophonist’s regular trio plus vibraphonist Chuck Redd – boasts several rarely played numbers (including the recording debut of Tadd Dameron’s Sweet Life), but is missing some of the fire and funk that’s usually to be found in a Person session. Alison Kerr

Download this: If It’s The Last Thing I Do




Goat Island Music GIMCD003, via internet only

Star rating: * * * *

They’ve changed their line-up – original members Angus MacKenzie (Cape Breton piper) and Gabe McVarish (Scottish fiddle from USA) and Ross Martin (guitar from Morar) – by adding Eigg man Damian Halliwell on mandoline and banjo, and the atmospheric Gaelic singing of Argyll/Ballachulish’s Griogair Labhruidh. And this is the best album yet from the band of musical brothers from around the Atlantic, formed 14 years ago. There’s no respite from the band’s celebrated West Highland idiom of Gaelic song with astute instrumental fluency and accuracy, here added to by half a dozen guest musos.

Norman Chalmers

Download this: Mo Ghleannan Taobh Loch Liobhann


Andy Pape

An Amerikaner In Danmark

Da Capo 6.220567, £12.99

Star rating: * * * * *

US-born composer Andy Pape has been resident in Denmark for the past 40 years, and that mix shows in his musical output, including a children’s opera, Sigurd The Dragonslayer, and a street opera, Houdini The Great, as well as works in collaboration with Danish actor-director Erik Clausen.

This surprisingly fun recording features a Gershwin-inspired musical tribute (the title track) and two works for orchestra and solo instruments that tend to be under-represented in the concert repertoire, Suburban Nightmares for tuba, and Traces Of Time Lost for bassoon.

Full of colour and life, the latter works are highly challenging for the soloist but reward repeated listening. The Gershwin tribute is more obviously tuneful, but with references as well from Danish sources, including Pape, it’s a lighthearted yet seriously thought through work that is more than mere pastiche. Alexander Bryce

Download this: An Amerikaner In Danmark