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Reviews

Music round-up: May 2010

Jude Mason

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As we go to press the sun has finally broken through the persistent chill of The-Winter-That-Wouldn't-Take-The-Hint, and cherry blossoms are bursting out over the neighbourhood. A perfect accompaniment to the explosion of spring comes with Go from Sigur Rós front man Jónsi. Where Sigur Rós err on the ethereal side of beauty, Jónsi's solo effort is an eruption of joy, with a driving percussive force that lifts his unmistakable voice to new heights and takes your heart with it.  It is, quite simply, glorious.

Also getting less ethereal by the release are Goldfrapp.  Allison's voice still has the effortless range and otherworldly mystery that wowed me a decade ago, but these days they are firmly mainstream. Head First simmers, pulsates and… sounds a bit like Abba sometimes.

On the folk side of things is Laura Marling who is stepping into the fullness of her talent with I Speak Before I Can. Separating herself from the London nu-folk pack her second album is more Joan Baez than Jonny Flynn.

Delighting from the tru-folk camp is The Unthanks' Here's The Tender Coming.  Adding layers to their previous sound has only granted more depth to the sweet Geordie harmonies of the lead sisters.

She & Him, the pairing of indi-film queen Zooey Deschanel (pictured) and indi-music king M Ward, return with Volume 2.  Floating in a pool of reverb and summer guitars it's the best kind of background music:  Pretty, sweet, unobtrusive and smile inducing.

This month's more bizarre delights are an album of Hall & Oates covers from The Bird & The Bee, and a 22-track concept album about the life of Immelda Marcos by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim.  The former is a sweetly re-imagined reminder (for those who need it) of the wonderful songwriting of the 80s duo and an excuse to have 'Maneater' stuck in your head for a week. The latter is an oddly wonderful musical journey, with each song performed (brilliantly) by 20 different female artists including Cindy Lauper, Tori Amos and Martha Wainwright.  Worth a listen… before you go and put the Jónsi album back on just one more time.

Jude Mason