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M. Brown (Cardiff United Kingdom)
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Ultraviolence
Ultraviolence
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £4.76

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not exactly an unalloyed pleasure, 20 July 2014
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This review is from: Ultraviolence (Audio CD)
Surprised people haven't reacted to the lyric of the title track, and it's somewhat reprehensible promotion of domestic violence as something glamorous and desirable. I understand her need to be provocative, and I'm devoted to the woman, but she certainly went too far with this one, although one could to point to a scene from Blue Velvet as perhaps inspiration for this piece. As for the album itself, it's a touch underwhelming considering the material she delivered on the Paradise Edition of Born To Die. But it is in fact a very fine work, especially within the current pop genre, it's almost suicidal in its brave approach, but one pines somewhat for the seared into your brain melodies of Video Games and Born To Die. This is probably as uncommercial as Lana is capable of being. One of her greatest gifts is her ability to conjure magical melodies seemingly out of nowhere, but that gift is absent to a certain degree on this album. The first track is also way too long, and the tracks in general stay around too long. West Coast is spoiled to a degree by the tempo of the drums being too slow on the chorus; I keep wishing I had a device that could speed the damn thing up. I would also criticise her decision not to print more than fragments of her lyrics, as it smacks a bit of cowardice (or lack of confidence), one or the other. On the plus side there's the exquisite Shades of Blue, where Lana again channels her inner Liz Fraser (see also, Bel Air from Paradise). If I was being harsh, I would say she was kind of stealing stuff from Cocteau Twins, but I really like the fact she would even go there with her voice. Her vocals are generally superior on this album to those on Born To Die. It's also agreeable that she's dumped the whole hip-hop shtick, as entertaining as it was. I really love the playfulness and coolness of Brooklyn Baby (which is the only true single on the album in my view), though I would question the accuracy of her satire here. Speaking of satire, it is largely absent from this album, although F'd My Way Up To The Top is very amusing (I can't believe she wrote a song with that title; it's a classic). The album really reaches its pinnacle with Old Money, which is an incredibly personal and intimate ballad, one of her very best songs, even if the melody is not exactly original. You find here the core of what makes Lana unique. Some may argue what does a wealthy person have to feel melancholy about? But the very fact that she was materially blessed but is clearly maladjusted is what makes her such a vital and original artist. Nobody else could have written this song. Some have criticised her vocal performance on the cover version, The Other Woman, and admittedly when I first heard it, I thought it was over the top and a bit ridiculous, but my view has changed since then, so much so that I can't help thinking that she should do an album of cover versions next. Finishing the album in this way is eccentric and genius, and yes, despite what anyone says, Lana is a genius. It's a bit regrettable though that she no longer co-writes with the guy who helped her conceive Video Games and Born To Die. As for the bonus tracks, only Black Beauty is worth having in my opinion. The other two are B-sides at best. In conclusion, Lana is still one of the most remarkable women on the planet, but she's no longer pretending to be a hit-maker. I guess she's making music for herself, which is all she should ever really be doing. But it isn't exactly an unalloyed pleasure, and I have some sympathy for those who preferred Born To Die (although the Paradise recordings were really the peak of her work to date). The album requires patience, more than anything.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2015 6:54 PM BST


Motivational Jumpsuit
Motivational Jumpsuit
Price: £7.47

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The most consistent one, 2 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Motivational Jumpsuit (Audio CD)
I disagree with the other reviewer about the previous four GBV albums. I'm convinced that Let's Go Eat the Factory is the one that is truest to the GBV spirit, and contains more of that spirit than the subsequent albums. Song for song it may not have been the strongest, but as an overall experience I enjoy it the most. The second album in the sequence, Class Clown, was somewhat disappointing in comparison, The Bears For Lunch was pretty strong for the most part, but not quintessentially GBV in its feel, fine work though it is. English Little League again was a touch disappointing, mainly due to the way it tails off over the second half with at least one too many lo-fi piano pieces (you could cut both of them off, and it would be a better album). Fans can't really find fault with this latest effort, as it's strong from start to finish without any noticeable throwaways. But I don't necessarily thing the album contains any true GBV classics (the closer, Alex And The Omegas, probably comes closest to getting that honour). The past few albums suffer somewhat from the fact that Tobin performs and records his tracks on his own, so they tend to sound pedestrian in performance, in contrast to the full band recordings. A minor complaint, because Tobin is a key figure in the GBV picture, it's just a pity he couldn't integrate more with the rest of them, to create a consistent sound and attitude (and these latest songs of his are far from his best, in my opinion). Pollard is the master of course, and he delivers his usual excellence here, although not in his very top gear (some others may disagree, but that's due to temporary amnesia). Like I say,a very consistent and satisfying collection. But I don't know that I would put it in the top five of GBV albums.


When Machines Attack
When Machines Attack
Price: £14.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Psych excellence, 2 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: When Machines Attack (Audio CD)
Of the two Circus Devils albums released simultaneously (the other being My Mind Has Seen The White Trick) this is easily the better and more listenable of the two. It's better because the sound is less ugly, the content is more texturally colourful, and the songs - if they can be called songs - are more entertaining. The album is also significantly more psych than the other one. Pollard is significantly funnier on the Circus Devils material than elsewhere, and ultimately more playful. The melodies are kept to a minimum on both albums, which is no doubt a shame for those who thought Gringo was their best album and a new phase for Circus Devils music (I don't personally think it was the best one, despite the handful of very fine songs it contained, because it also featured some substandard guff). The real Circus Devils identity can be found on albums like Sgt Disco and Mother Skinny, and this album too. All challenging but focused albums, which mix humour, psych, dark interludes and experimental sounds. If you like the Circus Devils catalogue, you will like this album.


Blazing Gentlemen
Blazing Gentlemen
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Robert on semi-auto-pilot, 2 Mar. 2014
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This review is from: Blazing Gentlemen (MP3 Download)
This is another middling entry in Pollard's solo cannon, but better than some of them (for instance Elephant Jokes and Space City Kicks). The album suffers somewhat from a lack of slow numbers, although it conversely benefits at times from a crisp and zippy approach; but I can't help feeling that some of the shorter tracks are too short for their own good, and the title track goes on a minute longer than is necessary. It is in fact one of Robert's shortest albums (a guy who specialises in short albums, as a rule). For some reason Robert splits the album into two groups of songs (Blazing Gentlemen and My Museum Needs An Elevator), and I suppose it makes sense to the degree that the first group of songs, excepting the opening number, feel like Robert on auto-pilot. Very accomplished in their way, the songs fail to grab the listener, or at least this listener. The second group of songs highlights the slightly lacklustre quality of the first group of songs, as there's more energy and confidence in them, and you remember what Robert can do when he finds his mojo. Unfortunately the album finishes in slightly lacklustre fashion, and the overall impression is that not quite enough was offered (not just in terms of duration, but in terms of memorable songs). But as Robert is a true genius, I have to give four stars, rather than the three stars the album probably deserves, since even Pollard on an average outing is far better than most other music artists. The new GBV album is significantly better than this, but then that's only to be expected. If you're an admirer of the great man, you will buy this and not complain; even his lesser albums exert a power and influence over time. He is more prolific than ever, and for that we have to be grateful, and hope it continues for another couple of centuries at least.


Honey Locust Honky Tonk
Honey Locust Honky Tonk
Price: £7.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Erroneous title sequence, 6 July 2013
For those buying the mp3, the title list is in the wrong order. I think it's just the first seven tracks are muddled. The correct order is: He Requested Things, Circus Green Machine, Strange And Pretty Day, Suit Minus The Middle, Drawing A Picture, Who Buries The Undertaker, She Hides In Black. You'll have to type in the correct titles when you've downloaded the tracks! As for the album itself, it's typical Pollard, half a dozen excellent songs, and the rest somewhat mediocre. I've given it an extra star because it's Robert. I particularly recommend the following for download (albeit from elsewhere, as the sound on the amazon mp3 is noticeably inferior!): She Hides In Black (track seven), Her Eyes Play Tricks, I Killed A Man Like You and Airs.


Born To Die - The Paradise Edition
Born To Die - The Paradise Edition
Price: £6.00

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully confounding, 17 Dec. 2012
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Lana remains the only interesting artist in popular music (popular music as opposed to other more interesting genres). She represents a peculiar but fascinating conundrum. Who is she? Why is she allowed to put out such fresh and original music in this stale and tired music industry? We may never know, but we can only be grateful. And the audience is obviously there for her, despite what head honchos in the industry think we need. A track like 'Gods and Monsters' shows why she is not that easy a proposition, as she neither lives up to the pop doll ideal or the inoffensive ballad singer. Her 'character' in the song is told God is dead, and is happy with that; she is also not exactly a feminist role model, since she will do anything that moves (the character, I hasten to add). Of course her lethal weapons are her chameleon-like vocals and compulsive melodies. Bel Air is probably the most beautiful melody heard since Cocteau Twins split up, and shows her visionary gift in all its glory. One of the compelling and frustrating aspects of her lyrics is whether or not we are take her proclamations as genuine or ironic or cynical or something indefinable. When she sings, 'be young be dope be proud, like an American' is she being scornful, or patriotic? The fact that you're unsure is part of what fascinates. Blue Velvet was an obvious move, but a successful one all the same. (Congratulations to those who actually saw Lana's advert in which it featured, as it was barely shown). Cola blew me away, mainly because of Lana's operatic backing vocals, which took me by surprise, and I can only hope she does more stuff like that in the future. Personally I've always been a Coke man, but if anyone change my mind, I guess it's Lana. There's no doubt she plays around with Americana in a very calculated fashion, but it's wholly seductive nevertheless. Perhaps the British are more susceptible to this kind of thing than Americans themselves. I get the impression that listeners here have been more sympathetic than in the States, but I could be mistaken. We can only hope that she gets as much opportunity as she needs to release her music in abundance, for as long she's breathing. Where would popular music be without her? Dead.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2015 7:06 PM BST


Bish Bosch
Bish Bosch
Price: £9.89

15 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarity Ensues, 3 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Bish Bosch (Audio CD)
The first thing to say is that this probably the funniest album ever made - the funniest musical album anyway. I was in stitches throughout. Maybe some people won't get the jokes, but that's their loss. Is this album difficult? Somewhat. But perhaps less so than The Drift. It's also the most original album in existence, though less original due to the prior existence of Tilt and The Drift; it has more similarity with the latter than the former. There are some obvious parallels in the sequence of pieces, and in terms of the approach to sound. Occasionally it's a touch too much like The Drift (the opening of Dimple is a bit too similar to the opening of Jesse). Dimple is one that had me in stitches in particular, as I couldn't help but imagine Scott possessed by a Teletubby (in much the same way he was possessed by Daffy Duck on the last album; or was it Donald Duck?) It's possible to mourn the absence by and large of Scott's former lyricism, although it's not entirely absent if you look for it. But the twenty minute Zercon is strangely affecting, is possibly his finest masterpiece, and is a beautiful portrait of stoic individualism in the face of mob rule. The journey from scorned repulsive dwarf, to flagpole sitter, to dwarf star is literally sublime. There's so much here, it's impossible to go into; it's like an encyclopedia. We all find flatulence amusing don't we? So does Scott. We find observations like 'grinding upheaval/always affects the genitals' both amusing and illuminating don't we? Mischievous hijinx is everywhere. Scott dispatches his punchlines like a stand-up in hell. Blowing up bullfrogs with a straw is bound to be the latest craze among the disenchanted youth of today. There's acres of this entertainment on show. 73 minutes of it. All for a tenner. Can't go wrong can you? And he even signs off on a festive note, which is appropriate, and considerate.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 16, 2012 6:33 PM GMT


Born To Die
Born To Die
Price: £6.83

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A few thoughts on Lana, 19 Feb. 2012
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This review is from: Born To Die (Audio CD)
There seems little point in reviewing an album that has already been reviewed by so many people, but a few thoughts are perhaps worth writing down, given the whirl of misinformation and hype and hating that has gone on. With just a couple of songs Lana Del Rey has completely rejuvenated and revalidated the whole of popular music. That may seem an overstatement, but I'm speaking as someone who wouldn't listen to the Top 40 if you offered me a large sum of money. I only had to listen to a snatch of one of Lana's songs, and I knew she was something special, something exciting from a musical realm that has been entirely stale for the past decade. Firstly the image: yes, she is striking to look at, but it is anything but an easy look, it's a confrontational look and a mysterious look; she doesn't smile, she looks like she could maybe kill you, given provocation. Everything she does flirts with the conventions of pop music, but all at one remove. In her songs, she plays a certain character, arguably several different ones. You sense that she doesn't feel any limitation on what she will do. She will quote Nabokov's Lolita, because she feels like it. She will write a song entitled 'Born To Die', she will call her album it, as no other calculating pop star would do. She sings about doomed love and death, as no other pop star would do. She mixes pungent reality with seductive fantasy. All her songs are shot through with a sad, wasted glamour that it's impossible to shake from your mind, once you've heard it. She is to pop music now what Springsteen was to pop music in the seventies and eighties. She is arguably one of the best lyricists at work today, in any genre. She presents to us 'a freshman generation of degenerate beauty queens'. The portraits she paints are old-fashioned portraits of young women and young women grown old, who have never heard of the word feminism, and blindly pledge their hearts to useless and violent and masculine men. Listen to the sadness in her portraits, rather than having some knee-jerk reaction to the un-PC characters. This is no advert for female empowerment, but it portrays these doomed and sincere women with great fidelity and affection. Del Rey doesn't sneer; she empathises with her characters, she becomes her characters. There is as much depth in her portraits of superficiality as you would find in a Matt Berninger lyric. Dark Paradise is one of the most subtly powerful and devastating portraits of living after the death of a lover that you will find. Carmen is a heartbreaking portrayal of a woman who everyone envies the false image of, while the woman herself is living in hell. Million Dollar Man is a perfect indictment of a certain kind of flashy man who women will fall for, only to be mistreated. Del Rey's women are victims, yes, but it's the sincere tragedy of their situations which makes for such memorable music. The tunes, of course, are entirely sublime. The sort of tunes you thought had died out with pop's heyday. You remember Madonna circa 'Like a Prayer'? Born To Die itself is one of the most majestic pop songs ever written. She is in the same league as Prince when he wrote 'Nothing Compares 2 U' and 'When Doves Cry'. Her voice is not a perfect instrument; there's a hitch in her voice which is occasionally disruptive, but she manoeuvres around it pretty well, and her ability to move from deep sophisticate to adolescent wanna-be is frequently striking. Buy the fifteen track version. Lucky Ones is classic.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2015 7:14 PM BST


Pulse
Pulse
Price: £14.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Miraculous, 21 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Pulse (Audio CD)
Miraculous in that it follows on from what was undoubtedly her creative nadir (Here Come the Vikings). Maybe she realised she had lost her way musically, as she pulls out all the stops here, delivering what is by some distance her best work. The combination of experimentation and melancholy is something of a revelation here. This is the album she should have made after Boy For You. Every track displays her melodic mastery, albeit in a more reflective and abstract setting than ever before. There's an off-kilter beauty in the recordings which is rarely heard in contemporary music. There's quite a strong electronic element, but it does not prevent the album from being a timeless wonder. Connected and Pulse are terrific examples of melancholy pop music, as good as it gets. Cherry has the weird beauty of prime period Cocteau Twins. Underwater doesn't sound like it was recorded underwater (that would be silly), but it's given a suitably echoey production to make you feel the sensation at least. Miracle is the most commercial song, but even this is swathed in atmosphere and resonates deeply. The final track, Paperbacks, is a delicate lament that should be played around the Christmas tree of all depressives. The album is a gem, from start to finish.


Ritual
Ritual
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £4.75

4 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Laughable, 25 Jan. 2011
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This review is from: Ritual (Audio CD)
Has anyone actually read the lyrics of this album? They're truly excruciating. It's hard to believe a human being could write things this bad (Holy Ghost is the best example with its 'moth in molasses' and 'yelled spanish like an out of date acid'). But the last straw is the percussion on 'Turn The Bells' which is lower than K-tel standard, and brings back horrific eighties memories. And by the way, how do you 'turn' a bell? It's all quite alarming after what was a decent if completely unoriginal debut album. And the first track in fact suggests promising progression, but the album just gets gradually worse and worse till you feel like a moth in molasses yourself. Veering towards electro pop is not a sign of progression, sadly, only of desperation. In ten years time people will struggle to remember who White Lies were, and those who do will chuckle at such po-faced idiocy. This is the first CD I've ever thrown straight in the bin and not felt any guilt in doing so. I advise any other intelligent person who doesn't want to be embarrassed in retrospect to do the same.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 1, 2011 4:39 PM GMT


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