September was a month whose sonic soundscape was dominated by the release of a few choice albums for me. CHVRCHES’ new album Every Open Eye was an absolute triumph and similarly Disclosure’s second album Caracal managed to produce a few good tunes that added to their catalogue of house masterpieces.
So I’ll kick off with the one tune that stood on its own two feet for me before picking over the highlights of those two fine albums.
Major Lazer – “Get Free”
If you’re familiar with Major Lazer, or his other moniker Diplo, you’d be expecting a high octane song fusing together dance, house and world music but this one takes a completely different tack.
A slow, steady and considered tune, it’s an unbelievably relaxing song that has a fantastic melody and great vocals too. Perfect for when things are a bit hectic.
Disclosure – “Hourglass” (feat. LION BABE)
Perhaps the most “traditional” Disclosure song on their new album, this features the classic sound of the beat clicking into life before a confident and assured soul vocal that carries through to an uplifting chorus.
Disclosure – “Magnets” (feat. Lorde)
Lorde is fast becoming one of the best vocal talents around, and it’s hard to believe she’s only 18. This is the highlight of Caracal, with the slow and vocal-orientated approach of the album really hitting its stride with a killer melody and catchy lyrics that make it work so well. This would be the best choice for their next single, and one that’s sure to do better than the few they’ve released off the album already.
CHVRCHES – “Keep You On My Side”
Channelling the same spirit as the upbeat songs of Bones this is the first song on Every Open Eye that kicks things into the higher gear in which the rest of the album is mostly set. It’s energetic, it’s fun and it has the sonic sense to take it down a notch too to underscore the chorus that’s perfectly catchy. This is where the album hits its stride, and it gets even better from there…
CHVRCHES – “Clearest Blue”
“Clearest Blue” is perhaps the focal point of the album, with its slow build towards an epic energy-fuelled drop that explodes in your eardrums being the album’s highlight. This blows apart the traditional song-writing structure that most CHVRCHES songs have and manages to convey lyrics about anxiety and panic and do it in a way that masks it in a saccharine haze that completely belies the true intentions behind it. That’s what “The Mother We Share” did so emphatically, and that’s why this is the honorary successor to that song and an absolute must-listen.
CHVRCHES – “Empty Threat”
If Every Open Eye was shooting for an 80s feel this is the song that nails the ideal perfectly. Starting off with a quick drum beat that you’d be forgiven for thinking was a complete lift from an 80s dance tune, this is CHVRCHES’ most high energy song on the album and just sparkles with pop brilliance all the way through. The way Lauren Mayberry’s words hang on just a little longer at the end of the verses, the bouncy sing-along brilliance of the chorus and the quick paced bridge that adds a certain character to the song are all ingredients of an amazing homage to an era of music that does something entirely new at the same time – and that’s almost quintessentially what CHVRCHES are about.