Matt James: If 2010’s glitzy All You Need Is Now was a time travellin’ Rio successor, Duran are now seemingly redialing their DeLoreans towards 1986’s Notorious. A ‘Get the funk out’ rumpshaker with Co-Pilot Nile “Goldfinger” Rodgers (back! Back! BACK!) again sprinkling a soupçon of Chic magnifique. Le Bon struts around hollering about “The Future!” with such fizzy abandon you suspect it was recorded the day Duran signed their new swanky ‘Daddy Warbucks - Champagne Breakfast - Enormodomes ‘Ere We Come’ deal with Warner Bros. Sure it’s all a bit daft, slightly “Duran dumbed down” for “The Kidz” but we’re promised forthcoming album Paper Gods will honour their “Dark, weird experimental side” so it’s worth sticking around. Le Bon’s got rid of his dodgy Captain Birdseye beard too which is a bonus. [6/10]
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Having grown up in a North Dakota town of 50 people, Ana Egge‘s music is seemingly spare at times, which makes you wonder if that geographical vastness has influenced the similar sparseness of her music. If you’ve ever spent time in a tiny town on the Plains, though, you’ll know there’s a lot of heart underneath such seeming harshness and isolation, and you feel it in the title track for Egge’s latest album, a song that’s also very near and dear to her as well.
No longer one half of country duo Steel Magnolia, and coming off a run on The Voice that saw here place second, Meghan Linsey has undergone a transformation from mainstream country chanteuse to pop/soul belter. And judging by what you hear on her new EP Believer below, the new sound suits the Louisiana-raised, Nashville-based singer to a tee. Produced by Ashley Monroe collaborator Tyler Cain, Believer retains enough country influence to attract listeners from that side, but make no mistake, this is one assertive, sassy little pop record with strong crossover appeal, highlighted by the Southern-tinged rocker “Counterfeit” and thunderous ballad “Best of Me”.
Comprised of former members of West coast indie bands P:ano and Lost Lovers Brigade, synthpop duo Fake Tears heads in a much more different direction, not only finding warmth in artificiality, but juxtaposing a pop aesthetic with a strong experimental mindset. Larissa Loyva and Elisha My Rembold create smart electropop, their rich vocal harmonies meshing beautifully with the vintage sounds of analog synths. It’s a beautiful, classic sound but with a modern perspective, and Nightshifting, their debut album for Mint Records, highlighted by the title track, achieves a kind of Giorgio Moroder-meets-Tangerine Dream feel.
Plumbing the depths of early Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Joy Division, Olympia, Washington band Dark Palms bring a welcome gothic tinge to indie pop, a little garish darkness to an often rigid style of music. Not too shabby for a band that only formed earlier this year.