Album Review: Straining Hard Against the Night – The Blessed Isles

Straining Hard Against the Night is the debut album of The Blessed Isles. It reminds me of nothing so much as the music of the late 80s and 90s coming out of Brit-pop and new wave – groups like The Cure at their peppiest, When in Rome, Big Country and the like.

In fact, The Blessed Isles have all the same virtues and faults for me that new wave displayed – crisp, upbeat songs that can bring dancing, some what muddled slow songs that are over-layered, a mix of great and really stupid lyrics – they are almost the perfect amalgam of new wave brought into the shoe gaze era.

Recommendation: Stream It


Songs I have a Playlist for: Caroline, Round and Round, Confession

Clunkers I will Thumbs down: Winter Moon

Album Review: Debutante – FEMME

Debutante is the self-released debut album of British solo artist FEMME (Laura Bettinson). It is unabashedly pop. What kind of pop, however, is often in flux.

FEMME’s influences seem to be all over the place to me. There’s synth pop, drum and bass-inflected Afropop, and a heaping helping of 60s bubblegum pop in there.

Lyrically, there is lots of boy/girl angst, but there is also a lot of pro-girl standing up to the shitty relationship to break free.

There are some really great songs on this album like Gold and the absolutely brilliant Dumb Blonde.  Overall, the album is pretty good, and I will happily listen to many tracks again.

Recommendation: Stream It

Songs I have a Playlist for: Bring It Back Round, Shout Out Loud, Gold, Dumb Blonde, Sirens

Clunkers I will Thumbs Down: Romeo, Light Me Up

Quick Hits: Wire, Andy Stott, The Coathangers

None of these albums are poorly written or performed. They just weren’t for me. YMMV.

Recommendation for all of them is Stream.

Nocturnal Koreans – Wire

This is a pretty straightforward rock album, but it ultimately wasn’t terribly memorable or engaging for me.

Too Many Voices – Andy Stott

This is a Dance/Electronica album that started out pretty good for me, but really petered out by the end for some reason I really can’t identify. I just completely lost interest in it.

Nosebleed Weekend – The Coathangers

On this album, The Coathangers strongly remind me of the Romantics, but with less shouting. Still, kind of an 80s punk sound that could be pretty engaging if I were in the mood for it. But I’m not right now and don’t know that I will be in the foreseeable future.