Albums of the week

23.01.12 Words by: Ruth Saxelby

Every Monday, Dummy’s staff roundup the most important albums of the week, summarising records by the world’s biggest stars and pointing you in the direction of ones the world may have passed by.

This week has something of a “palatable” tinge, with four of the week’s five best records sounding dinner-party-worthy. Two work well, two less so, but it’s up to TI’s attempt to reassert himself as King Of The South to bring a much-needed touch of bad taste to the table.

Album of the week // Chairlift – ‘Something’

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New York duo Chairlift have made a straight-up pop album, and a very good straight-up pop album at that. Big choruses? Sing-a-long verses? Hooks up to their elbows? Tick, tick, tick. The biggest moments are undoubtedly I Belong In Your Arms, Amanaemonesia and Met Before. There are slow-burn numbers too: Guilty As Charged, Cool As Fire and Turning. But, funnily enough, the biggest earworm on ‘Something’ is Wrong Opinion, with its angular off-beats and regret-filled vocal. Sadly, this album seems to be slipping under the radar, and it’s actually more a reflection on the way the music industry works than the music itself. Pop rarely offers two bites of the apple. Which is why so many returning artists and bands come back with a different name. New name, new chance! Of course, as Lana Del Rey could tell you, that path is strewn with potential jibes over authenticity but that’s the risk many are willing to take. While Chairlift found moderate success with their terribly named first album ‘Does You Inspire You’, its biggest claim is that Bruises featured on an iPod Nano ad. Which, quite refreshingly in this time of grudging acceptance for brands’n’bands, doesn’t exactly scream cool. What I’m trying to say is that it was a brave move by Chairlift to resist the urge to reinvent and ‘Something’ genuinely has plenty to offer and enjoy. [RS]

Porcelain Raft – ‘Strange Weekend’ [Secretly Canadian]
Mauro Remiddi, a singer-songwriter in his 30s who has lived in Rome, New York and London, once told me an interesting thing about the way he makes his pretty, free-ranging folk music. No song takes longer than an afternoon, because if an idea is allowed to sit and stew waiting for a final touch or another take, it’s taken away from the genius of the idea, he said. It’s what I loved about his previous work, most notably for Acephale on the ‘Going Blind’ EP. Dust settles on things, and settles fast, and the best music succeeds in capturing the dust floating in the light, rather than lying on a song. The best songs on this lovely album – Is It Too Deep For You?, Backwords, The End Of Silence succeed in capturing this instantaneous, romantic working method, though sometimes the scale of a big indie debut album, as this is, swamps the beautiful weirdness that makes Porcelain Raft such an interesting musician. [CRJ]

TI – ‘Fuck Da City Up’ [self-release]
TI’s mantle as King Of The South has been overtaken many times over since his ‘Trap Muzik’ [self-release, 2003] heyday, but his first mixtape since leaving jail merits attention. ‘Fuck Da City Up’ shows TI’s two strengths – picking great productions and his muscular, mighty flow – and his one, clunking weakness, his weird insecurity. There are terrific moments on the mixtape – the straight-trap of Loud Mouth, the linguistic twinkle of In A Nutshell being particular highlights, and there are no clunking moments. But the sheer number of collaborators – 2Chainz, Pusha T, Nelly, BoB, Pimp C, Dr Dre, Trouble, Future and Trey Songz are just some of the guests on the payroll – drowns out TI’s personality, and too many beats just don’t quite jump, often torn between the brutal minimalism of TI’s past with the Lex Luger-style maximalism of trap rap’s present. Still, it’s a pretty great tape, filled with better than decent tunes. [CRJ]
Download TI – ‘Fuck Da City Up’ from Datpiff.com

First Aid Kit – ‘The Lion’s Roar’ [Wichita Recordings]
They might be a couple of years older but, going by the worldly sentiment of this follow up to their 2010 debut ‘The Big Black And The Blue’, it would be hard for Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg to get much wiser. While their voices are as bell-clear and stirring as ever, the lion’s share of ‘The Lion’s Roar’ lacks the fiery freshness of early songs like Hard Believer. That said, I Found A Way and King Of The World have enough kick and sting between them to satisfy First Aid Kit’s promise. [RS]
Listen to First Aid Kit – ‘The Lion’s Roar’ on Spotify

Francois & The Atlas Mountains – ‘E Volo Love’ [Domino]
Domino’s first French signing, Francois & The Atlas Mountains make that sort of Platonic-ideal folk music that the French do so very well, matched with rather interesting Moroccan elements. On their second album now, their sound is palatable in the extreme, yet has a sincerity and a heart that makes it really quite lovely, helped by the light touch with which they marshall such portentous influences as Blood On The Tracks-era Dylan or Moroccan jazz. It’s this, along with their loveable, phlegmatic personality that lifts it so far from the phone ad fodder it sounds like on paper. [CRJ]
Listen to Francois & The Atlas Mountains – ‘E Volo Love’ on Spotify

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