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MUSIC Album reviews with Mik Sabiers: August 18, 2020

Latest releases from Taylor Swift, david newton andStephen EvEns

Taylor Swift

RELEASED with no advance promotion but shifting 1.3 million copies on its first day of release, folklore is the surprise eighth album from Taylor Swift that delivers a stripped-down and different musical take on her usual upbeat confessional electropop.

Marking a shift from her more mainstream back catalogue, folklore primarily pares everything back to guitar, piano and vocals but it’s all in the lyrics that blur reality and fantasy over an almost indie-folk sound.

Lead single Cardigan is a folksy ballad that is probably closest to Swift’s traditional style, Seven is a subtle, sad and sweet call to a fading childhood friend, Mad Woman tackles rage face on, while The Last Great American Dynasty is a luscious take on being an outsider.

An enticingly odd mix of the morose and the chilled-out, it’s angry and loving, waspish and wistful. But it’s always intriguing and benefits from repeated listens.

david newton and thee mighty angels
a gateway to a lifetime of disappointment

THE MIGHTY LEMON DROPS were a central part of the 1980s C86 scene that saw a simple cassette tape compiled by the NME define a whole music genre — or damn it, depending on your viewpoint.

Some 35 years on, their guitarist and chief songwriter David Newton has released his latest album and it’s very much in the tradition of jangly, guitar-driven pop with a slight psychedelic edge.

Opening with In Love and War, it takes you right back to the post-punk pleasures of the mid-1980s, channelling Lightning Seeds-like tunes and observational takes on life.

Highlights include the uplifting and poppy Paint The Town and the more mordant The Kids Are Not Alright, while Everything Is Just So evokes early Primal Scream.

For fans of The Wedding Present, The Soup Dragons and the like, this is not-so-shambling indie that has matured and improved with age.

Stephen EvEns
Employee of the Month

WONKY pop, indie-punk and a dash of noise and distortion all feature on Stephen EvEns mismatch of an album Employee of the Month.

There’s the good — opener Dustbin Man, a welcome post-punk paean to public-sector workers who have borne the brunt of cuts, gets a good groove going — and then there's the bad: George & Kathleen comes across as a trite love song lacking depth.

But mostly, there’s the derivative. Claude has close echoes of the Kaiser Chiefs, The Crystal Palace has a major nod to reimagined Beatles-lite psychedelia and overall there’s a good dose of the delight that is David Devant and his Spirit Wife but perhaps lacking his magical nuance and twisted lyrics.

Good guitar riffs, pretty piano, some wry observations and a nice beat but primarily this comes across more as a musical end-of-the-pier show rather than the magnum opus it aspires to be.





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