01
Mar
17

MUSIC REVIEW: At The Drive-In – Incurably Innocent

If you were a fan of the post-hardcore boom of the 90s and early 00s, you’ll know that there were countless different flavours to sample.

For many, the main draw of this kind of music was the balance between melody and noise. Some bands would tip that balance heavily in one direction or the other, and one band that loved their screaming were At The Drive-In.

Having reformed in 2012 after an acrimonious split a decade before, they toured to a hero’s welcome before threatening new music.

Unfortunately there were was one sad observation to be made about Cedric Bixler-Zavala – he can’t really scream any more.

Compare this 2012 live footage of ‘Arcarsenal,’ one of the most powerful songs in punk history, to the album version.

Okay, so sometimes there are vocalists who simply can’t do onstage what they can do in the studio. Screaming can be extremely taxing, especially if you aren’t trained; Henry Rollins ruined his voice that way, and wasn’t even the only Black Flag vocalist to manage that.

In December, the first new music from ATD-I emerged, ‘Governed By Contagions.’

Not a great deal of harshness there either. The guitars still skitter away from melody at a moment’s notice, but the vocals are all clean. Just this week, another new song followed, ‘Incurably Innocent.’

Admittedly, this is a much better song. Some of the velocity of their heyday is there, the drums flail, the guitars shriek, the vocals don’t, but luckily, the lyrics really do.

As a vocalist who so often obfuscates his lyrics behind bizarre imagery (‘an abortion that survived/a lineage of bastard mastication’ anyone?) Bixler-Zavala here covers an enormously hot button topic; child molestation.

Highlighting such a sensitive issue is a brave move from a brave band. They may not be as heavy as they used to be, but if the only boundary they can push is lyrical content when so few people are able or willing to do so, maybe we are still lucky to have ATD-I around after all.

31
Jan
17

RANT: Review of the year 2016

So 2016 sucked. It sucked out loud. It was a pair of old clown shoes in a dumpster fire at the bottom of the barrel.

But there was also music, wasn’t there? Isn’t there something to cling onto? Well funnily enough such a small number of great albums came out that I’m only bothering with a top five.

So what didn’t make it? Chance The Rapper released Coloring Book, an album I slept on for a while due to lacking in an Apple Music subscription. A rare note of positivity in a year of darkness, it nevertheless didn’t hit the same peaks as last year’s Surf.

Several of the old guard came back to drop unembarrassing new albums; Primal Scream shamelessly aped themselves with mixed results on ChaosmosisWeezer similarly weren’t anything to write home about this year but were pleasantly insular to the problems of the real world. Iggy Pop showed why he’s been enjoying a renaissance of late by drenching Josh Homme’s guitars in sarcasm.

Dexys made up for 1999’s loathsome My Beauty by covering a set of soul classics, traditionals and LeAnn Rimes. No, really. Not to be outdone, New Order covered themselves by spinning out their last record into largely disappointing ‘extended’ mixes.

At the heavy end of things, after making their crowdfunding fans wait for two years, American Head Charge made a comeback with the justifiably panned Tango UmbrellaBilly Talent on the other hand started incorporating prog affectations into their music, which somehow worked.

Drake got super paranoid and slightly funny while Kendrick Lamar was happy to chuck eight songs that couldn’t cut it on To Pimp A Butterfly onto the internet and call it a releaseRun The Jewels dropped their new album for free on Christmas Day way too late to get it reviewed in time for this list, while Kanye West and Frank Ocean made their albums all but unobtainable to this writer. Blonde at least eventually showed up as a purchasable download, but without its companion piece Endless it’s a Q without a U.

5. Wilco – Schmilco

It takes guts to make a grower these days, especially an acoustic one. The dawn-lit comedown to follow Star Wars‘ vibrant sugar highs, Schmilco was another quiet triumph. Sarcastic, funny and concise, there were hidden depths in both the lyrics and instrumentation.

4. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

A Radiohead with nothing to prove is a Radiohead that just kind of gets on with making great music and they did just that, finally recording live favourite ‘True Love Waits,’ and adding lush string arrangements to an already graceful collection.

3. David Bowie – Blackstar

Bowie isn’t the first musician to write their own obituary, but after a 21st Century of victory lap albums and disappearances, Blackstar revived Bowie the artist. A man able to reinvent himself time and again, to find the bleeding edges of music and build on his legend from beyond the grave.

2. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

Shorn of any of the rock or even balladeer posturing of any previous Bad Seeds album, parts of this record don’t even sound musical. Cave is in a pit of static and despair here, inviting you into its centre. Yet in that centre is a loving embrace and angelic soprano vocals.

1. Beyoncé – Lemonade

Who would’ve thought that the album as monolithic work of art would be maintained by the woman who wrote ‘Bootylicious’? Her personal life smeared all over the papers, her husband unfaithful and her talent peaking, the Beyoncé of Lemonade is frightening, dominant and stadium-sized. While not as musically innovative as its predecessor, its scope is wider; by the time Lemonade dips its toe into African-American politics, a guest verse from Kendrick Lamar is just gravy.

Too busy to listen to entire albums? How about ten of the year’s finest songs?

1. Beyoncé – Freedom feat. Kendrick Lamar (Lemonade) – Two of the biggest talents in music cross swords at the height of their powers, this song is a revelation.

2. David Bowie – Lazarus (Blackstar) – Guitar strings scrape past like a death rattle and you can hear the dust fly off the cymbals; as eerie as Bowie has ever been.

3. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Distant Sky (Skeleton Tree) – After an album of solitary, crushing sadness, a beam of light pierces through.

4. Cigarettes After Sex – K. (single) – To date only the sixth song released by these obscure ambient-poppers, ‘K.’ brings the dreamy groove into focus for the first time.

5. Chance The Rapper – All We Got feat. Kanye West (Coloring Book) – It all seemed so promising on this joyous opening track. If only it had maintained this momentum…

6. Drake – With You feat. Partynextdoor (Views) – His long-mooted masterpiece may have been a letdown, but it had moments of wonder like this airy, bouncy bit of electro-dancehall.

7. Iggy Pop – Gardenia (Post Pop Depression) – With a hangdog expression and a slouched vocal delivery, this is Pop feeling his age and getting cantankerous.

8. PWR BTTM – New Hampshire (single) – While their second album is as-yet-unannounced, PWR BTTM have released a single or two and ‘New Hampshire’ may be their biggest tearjerker yet.

9. Radiohead – The Numbers (A Moon Shaped Pool) – A circular guitar groove underpins this, but it steadily spreads out into the rest of the band and eventually an entire orchestra. Buy the album for a real version, here’s a live one.

10. Weezer – King Of The World (Weezer) – Goofy and disposable it may be, but this is what we all loved about Weezer in the first place.

23
Oct
16

ALBUM REVIEW: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree

When Nick Cave’s teenage song Arthur passed away a few years ago, I wasn’t sure we would ever hear from him again.

He had achieved the more or less ideal level of fame, where he could make a living as a musician and had legions of screaming fans but was able to pop into an off-licence in Brighton unmolested.

He never really needed to work again, so after suffering such a shocking personal tragedy I figured he was gone forever.

But then, Cave’s 21st Century career especially has been defined by confounding expectations. With Skeleton Tree he has done that yet again. Somehow his music has become even darker, even more tragic and even more minimalist and somewhat alarmingly this is despite being all but complete before Arthur’s death.

Skeleton Tree is brief, pitch black and sounds like it’s broken. If you’re expecting ‘The Mercy Seat,’ ‘No Pussy Blues’ or even ‘Jubilee Street’ you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Push The Sky Away saw the almost total disappearance of guitars from Cave’s music. Here, I couldn’t tell you for definite where the sound of a guitar can be heard. Traditional rock instrumentation is almost entirely off the table; piano is mostly out the window, at least half of the songs don’t even have drums. Cave frequently sing-talks (remember ‘Finishing Jubilee Street’?) and at one point even gives up the mic entirely but we’ll come back to that later.

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in traffic with your radio tuned incorrectly, you’ll have some idea of what the aural atmosphere of Skeleton Tree is. Synthesisers are the order of the day, programmed by head Bad Seed Warren Ellis, giving the effect of being surrounded by static. It sounds like a nightmare – but not the kind that scares you, the kind that leaves you under a heavy, grey cloud for a day. It’s exhaustingly sad, claustrophobic and at times even unmusical.

‘Jesus Alone’ shows you its outlook bluntly and brutally with the line ‘You believe in God, but you get no special dispensation for this belief now.’ On ‘Magneto’ he intones ‘The urge to kill someone was basically overwhelming.’ For a man with such a high body count in his lyrical history, the breeze-block realness of that line still startles.

‘Rings Of Saturn’ is powerfully strange. Rhythmically slightly similar to 1997’s ‘Lime Tree Arbour,’ it floats on major key piano and a creepily upbeat, wordless backing vocal; but it’s distant and sour and somehow unsettling.

As is becoming customary with modern Nick Cave records, the album has a centrepiece. In this case it’s ‘Distant Sky,’ a song that even by this record’s standards is simply otherworldly.

Cave takes the verses, then as the chorus arrives so does Danish soprano Else Torp and her jaw-dropping voice. As a professional critic, there are simply no words. Just listen.

Nick Cave has always stood alone as an artist, the Bad Seeds following his muse wherever it went. But the evolution he has shown this past decade is ludicrous. Yet again, he goes against what is expected of him, and yet again it pays off in spades.

Skeleton Tree may not be the undeniable masterpiece that a lot of his recent albums have been, but it’s an alarming, disquieting, fascinating, chilling window into absolute blackness. As has been asked so many times before, all we can wonder is just where there is for him to go from here.

06
Oct
16

RETRO MUSIC REVIEW: The Hold Steady – Boys And Girls In America

In my days as an actual music journo, I formed a somewhat eccentric collection of music; often just having the third or fourth album by some band I’d never heard of, which I then feigned an in-depth knowledge of in order to review.

One such band is The Hold Steady, who ten years ago today released Boys And Girls In America, the best album Bruce Springsteen never made.

I’ve been meaning to investigate their earlier and later work ever since, but first of all none of it seems to be as well loved and second of all it seems to basically sound nothing like this one, great record, a record I’ve now spent ten years living in harmony with.

Originality is often the name of the game in music, and the only place you’ll find that here is in the lyrics – on opener ‘Stuck Between Stations,’ Craig Finn sings ‘you’re pretty good with words/but words won’t save your life.’

If you’re unfortunate enough to follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that’s pretty much my mantra these days.

Musically the album is E-Street Band with a hint of punk – generous, open-palmed piano, chunky, melodic guitars and hooks to die for.

It’s a surprisingly catchy album considering that Finn often favours sing-talking through his nose, but it forces his by turns witty, dark, insightful and inane lyrics to lodge themselves in your brain as words and thoughts rather than simple melodies. Finn is the kind of songwriter that crafts characters and then catalogues the realistic struggles they face with life, love, jobs, booze, drugs and dancing.

BAGIA is an album of warm thrills, but Finn doesn’t let his poor muses completely escape their comedowns. This is best illustrated in ‘Party Pit,’ a joyous romp that rides along on a a drumbeat that always seems like it’s about to fall apart.

As the piano crashes into minor chords at the bridge, even without lyrics you can hear the dread setting in – what alcoholics sometimes call that moment of clarity, before the chorus returns, pushing away the dark thoughts so that the party can continue.

Their punk fury even lends bite to what might otherwise be ridiculous topics, like ‘Chips Ahoy!’, named after the horse that wins the narrator some cash at the racetrack.

The band were so on fire that they even nail something dangerously close to a power ballad – ‘First Night,’ the kind of beautiful, closing-time swoon that seems to sound significant and weightless simultaneously.

Signing the album off is ‘Southtown Girls,’ a graceful, stop-start tearjerker about the comforts and contradictions that go with a love of your hometown.

One of these days, I’ll get around to delving into the rest of the Hold Steady’s catalogue. But frankly, I never really need to – whatever else they’ve done before or since, this one record means more to me than they’ll ever know short of me writing them a creepy letter.

10
Sep
16

WRESTLING REVIEW: Cruiserweight Classic Episodes Eight and Nine

Gran Metalik def. Akira Tozawa

It’s a strange complaint to have, but having the CWC every week has created a sort of inflation for great matches – so many of the competitors in this tournament have been so physically gifted that it’s the matches with real story that have stood out. Drew Gulak trying to out-muscle Sabre Jnr., Brian Kendrick taking every shortcut, Tommaso Ciampa hesitating too much to destroy his best friend. Both Metalik and Tozawa went over guys I liked better than them, and while I don’t dislike either one it gave this match an oddly airless feel. Both men clearly have more to offer, but here they just seemed like a letdown compared to what could have been and the match was largerly forgettable. The one exception is Metalik kicking out of Tozawa’s German Suplex finisher – finisher-kickout-itis had so far been avoided in the CWC, and hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come.

Kota Ibushi def. Brian Kendrick

Can one truly ridiculous spot spoil a great match? Two of the hottest talents in the CWC squaring off absolutely lived up to the hype outside of it. Kendrick, the scumbag veteran, outclassed in every physical sense, slowly needling away at Ibushi when he gets a chance to breathe. He hooked Ibushi’s food into the guard rail to try to steal a countout, and at one particularly cringeworthy moment gave him a neckbreaker over the steel hooks behind the turnbuckle. Once again Ibushi let an opponent work his surgically repaired neck, coming back from the brink of death to once again break out his jaw-dropping top-rope Pele kick. It’s a real shame that Kendrick had to go out at all, because his run as one of few true heels in the tournament has been fantastic. The objectionable spot in question was Kendrick giving Ibushi the Burning Hammer – stupid enough in itself for a man who already seems to hate his own neck for some reason, but that Ibushi then kicked out of it killed the spot’s significance. After the match, and episode, was over, Bryan and Kendrick embraced in the ring to a shower of applause as they both cried.

Zack Sabre Jnr. def. Noam Dar

Noam Dar’s gimmick is that he likes Star Wars and Oasis, right? He seems to just keep getting blander, and this time around he managed to drag down Sabre along with him. After a great match with Tyson Dux and his astonishing outing against Gulak, Sabre’s shtick ground to a halt when faced with WWE’s favourite Scottish Israeli. Dar spent the whole match working on Sabre’s leg, a leg that Sabre frequently failed to sell. Sabre, in turn, worked on Dar’s arm. Logical storytelling perhaps, but when both guys are just trying to grind down a limb it kills the flow a little bit. Dar eventually submitted to a hold that Sabre applied with both of his legs which is an odd choice to say the least. Sabre has better in him. Dar almost certainly hasn’t, but he’s already been signed to Raw’s cruiserweight division.

TJ Perkins def. Rich Swann

In a turn up for the books Perkins, who I’ve previously not cared for, and Swann showed Dar and Sabre how to work a leg. Swann tweaked it on a moonsault off the apron, and Perkins took advantage, breaking Swann down bit by bit. The selling was low-key, but obvious – he avoided hitting moves that required a lot of spring in his step, those he did hit were lacking in snap. Bryan and Ranallo on commentary sold one slightly botched DDT as Swann being unable to give the move properly. Perkins excelled here with his work on the knee, getting some of his flashier spots in but largely taking the match seriously even as Swann made fun of Perkins’ own taunts. The nicest touch was that when Swann tapped out, Perkins immediately broke the hold to embrace his friend of many years. That leaves the final four as Metalik, Perkins, Ibushi and Sabre. Just what the hell is Metalik still doing here?

08
Sep
16

BACKLOG: Wilco

Tomorrow, Wilco release their second album in two years, Schmilco. Even if you’ve read this blog for a while, you might not know much about them. Allow me to be your guide…

After years as the lesser partner in Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy formed Wilco in 1994. Few eyebrows were raised by the radio-ready country rock of 1995’s AM (***). Amiable and chirpy, every single one of its brothers has outstripped it, leaving its smaller but absolutely genuine pleasures overlooked.

A year later came Being There (*****), and everything changed. Jay Farrar, the senior member of Tupelo, and his alt-country stalwarts Son Volt suddenly weren’t the band to watch any more.

Inspired in equal parts by absurdism (it’s named after a Peter Sellers movie) and iconography (very obviously a White Album tribute), it’s a two disc treasure trove that drops giant, clanging hints of every direction they would take for years to come. There’s enough melodic country to avoid scaring the horses, but there’s also the speed-fried march of ‘Misunderstood’ and as its astounding centrepiece, the acoustic noise of ‘Sunken Treasure.’

In 1998, the family of Woody Guthrie asked Wilco, along with Billy Bragg, to put some of the legendary songwriter’s words to music. Mermaid Avenue (****) was the result, a collection that’s by turns moving, patriotic, seething and bawdy. Unfortunately Bragg ‘got’ it more than Wilco did, so the better moments mostly belong firmly to him.

A second volume followed in 2000 (***), a wonderful but still slightly inferior record. Someone finally got their act together in 2012 and gathered every completed song into Mermaid Avenue: The Complete Sessions (*****). Despite having even worse quality control, the well-rounded picture it presented of Guthrie’s work captures his spirit better than even the sole first volume could.

It was in 1999 that the band started gaining their reputation as being the American Radiohead, with third proper album Summerteeth (****). Now so tangentially related to country as to be unrecognisable, they discovered a vein of horror in their music and draped it with searing keyboards and misleading Beach Boys harmonies. Songs like ‘She’s A Jar’ and ‘Via Chicago’ broke your heart, but had a startling twist in the tail.

After 2002’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (*****) marked their commercial and critical peak, the band was left in disarray. Longtime multi-instrumentalist, writer and producer Jay Bennett had departed, leaving a newly sober Tweedy as the sole ideas man. Luckily producer Jim O’Rourke, fresh from a stint as a full-time member in Sonic Youth, was on hand to make A Ghost Is Born (****) into a confusing, daring but rewarding mess. Multiple songs flamed out into guitar wig-outs, and the infamous fifteen-minute ‘Less Than You Think’ was (literally) meant to sound like a migraine. Fans and critics were divided.

After another seismic lineup shift, with guitar god Nels Cline coming on board, the group would remain consistent until the present day. Almost as if celebrating this, 2005 marked their first live album, Kicking Television: Live In Chicago (****), a sprawling double disc with a heavy emphasis on their 21st Century material. Songs from both Yankee and Ghost came alive away from the studio atmospheres, cementing the band as a live act to look out for.

Anticipation built to fever pitch for 2007’s criminally underrated Sky Blue Sky (****), a gentle, autumnal album of self-acknowledged ‘dad-rock.’ After pushing the envelope so far, the band pulled back, instead crafting sweet melodies and delicate productions.

Except ‘Impossible Germany’ of course, which is 90% epic guitar solo.

Having gone all the way out there and then come all the way back, the band seemed paralysed for a little while. Wilco (The Album) (***), meta as it was, brought nothing new to the table except some excellent songs and a whole lot of duds.

The Whole Love (***) did something different entirely – its central ten tracks could be from anywhere in their catalogue. But it’s bookended by two masterpieces. ‘Art Of Almost’ is frustrating for being such a red herring – a glitchy, electro-rock epic on an otherwise acoustic album. But ‘One Sunday Morning’ would be worth the asking price on any album however ropey; twelve, perfect, gentle minutes. It might just be their single high water mark.

The band took some time off, and Tweedy collated a huge chunk of their rarities, b-sides, live tracks and other nonsense for Alpha Mike Foxtrot (*****), a truly staggering four-disc box that’s a must for any fan once you’ve exhausted their studio records. Absolutely inessential is What’s Your Twenty? (**), a truly shoddy hits collection that avoids anything remotely dangerous in favour of their more lightweight, shorter material, robbing all of it of its power. Kicking Television is so much better as a hits collection it’s not even funny.

Finally, last year, the band re-emerged with Star Wars (****). Seemingly creatively renewed, it found Tweedy and co burrowing a completely new furrow – barely thirty minutes long and absolutely free of fat, it’s a confusing, bemusing but absolutely joyous album.

Hopefully they’ve managed to maintain that inspiration for Schmilco, because the American Radiohead seem like they’ve got plenty of gas left in the tank.

30
Aug
16

BACKLOG: Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams has been tweeting a lot lately, touring with his new band The Shining, with the distinct impression that a new album is coming.

If you’re unfamiliar with his work, allow me to catch you up on his career so far so you know where to dive in.

It all started in 1995, with alt-country pioneers Whiskeytown and their debut Faithless Street (***). Far from classic, it’s more democratic than their later work as violinist and co-founder Caitlin Cary snatches a lead vocal on ‘Matrimony.’ It’s heavy on the alt, and soft on the country.

Strangers Alamanac (****) is an enormous step up, an autumnal, watercolour record. There isn’t a bad song on it, but also precious little originality. A deluxe edition in 2008 showed how much material Adams had stocked up at the time.

The band fell apart in 1999 and Adams’ stone-cold classic debut Heartbreaker (*****) followed. Pretty much Adams’ entire reputation rests on these fifty divine minutes. The clue is in the title, as Heartbreaker is the quintessential breakup album. It doesn’t just cover the teary-eyed moments, but the release of being on your own again, the delirium of denial and the alcohol used to sterilise your wounds.

Adams moved to New York, took an alarming amount of drugs and started gearing up for making something heavily commercialised; in the interim, Whiskeytown’s swansong Pneumonia (*****) was finally released. Despite or perhaps because of constant lineup changes, it’s an eclectic, country-pop cornucopia and features one of his very best songs, ‘Easy Hearts.’

The public’s appetite suitably whetted, the tumbling, overlong but mercilessly catchy Gold (****) marked the commercial height for Adams, as well as the beginning of his self-indulgence. At 76 minutes, it’s way longer than it needs to be, but it sets out its stall within the first ten songs.

Here, Adams went off the rails and started releasing records at an alarming rate, leaving many fans pining for the quality control of Gold. First was 2002’s Demolition (**), a collection of demos for various albums that never came out. Calling it patchy would be overly complimentary but it can boast a handful of gems.

The year after came his lowest creative ebb, Rock ‘n’ Roll (*), an album draped in irony that still can’t save it from being terrible. Adams recorded it out of spite after his label rejected what he actually wanted to release, but somehow while not trying Adams added a classic to his oeuvre with ‘So Alive.’

The album Lost Highway had rejected was Love Is Hell (****), originally snuck out as two separate EPs but recombined in 2004. It finds Adams taking the echo chamber production of Rock ‘n’ Roll and covering it in Morrissey-esque loneliness, and reviews still underrate it to this day.

Throughout all this, critics said Adams needed to slow down and self-edit – his response to this, in true maverick style, was the ridiculous excess of his 2005 trilogy. With his new backing band The Cardinals, first came the double-disc Cold Roses (***) which in true Adams style was an album’s worth of Neil Young-aping, swooning rock plus a load of unnecessary filler, not helped by the fact that it could comfortably fit onto one CD.

After forgetting about country music entirely for Cold Roses, Adams bought some hipster glasses, grew a terrible beard and zoomed off in the opposite direction for Jacksonville City Nights (****). For an artist so often (semi-justifiably) criticised as insincere, he does an amazing job slipping into the character of a lonesome bar band leader weeping into his lap steel. It’s much, much better than it has any right to be.

Sidelining the Cardinals for a moment, he rounded things out with 29 (*****), his best solo record since Heartbreaker. More convincing than Cold Roses, more emotional than Love Is Hell, he swims in a sea of melancholy through ballad after ballad. It’s stunning.

He took time out to get sane and sober for a couple of years before bouncing back with Easy Tiger (****). The Cardinals aren’t credited on the cover despite playing on all of it, it’s a tight, punchy set of radio-ready country rock. He could do this in his sleep but the hooks are too irresistible and the instrumentation too tasteful to resist it, even as it deliberately dips into self-parody.

Bless the Cardinals – a sensitive, intuitive group, they could play whatever Ryan wanted them to play. Of course if the material sucks they’ve got nothing to work with. Cardinology (**) is the blandest thing Adams ever wrote, its songs blowing away in the wind like dust. Cardinals III/IV (***) is a mild improvement but still largely forgettable and only churned out as a stopgap while Adams found himself again.

Ethan Johns produced Heartbreaker, and his father Glyn had produced The Who, so Ryan upgraded for his first legitimate solo album in many years on Ashes & Fire (****). Touted at the time as a ‘return to form,’ in truth that just means that it sounds a lot like Heartbreaker production wise albeit without its range and nuance. The songs are strong, though, and Glyn could make a monotone reading of the phone book sound lush.

The bizarrely self-titled Ryan Adams (****) found a Tom Petty influence – piles upon piles of gloriously jangly guitars, tart, brittle production and in ‘Gimme Something Good,’ the best song he’d written in years.

Perhaps feeling he was risking becoming too boring, his last studio album to date was his album-length cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989 (***) which is far better than it has any right to be. It’s not a joke record – he takes it absolutely seriously and wrings out the melancholy, fear and anger of the originals with complete aplomb.

In a career of peaks, troughs, maverick behaviour, drugs, country, rock, Mandy Moore and Taylor Swift, Adams has proven that you can never quite predict what he’ll do next. Who knows what his next album will sound like?




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