British indie rockers Blossoms are back with their third album Foolish Loving Spaces, while this week we also look at new releases from US singer-songwriter Halsey and pop icon Kesha.
BLOSSOMS – FOOLISH LOVING SPACES
Foolish Loving Spaces could be a billboard advertisement for Blossoms 2.0.
The Stockport quintet’s seven-year evolution from hirsute Pink Floyd acolytes to spirited pop maestros is complete. Their third album is proof of this.Gone is the shimmering albeit simple indie of 2016’s self-titled debut and 2018’s Cool Like You. Both records were cool amalgamations of Blossoms’ myriad influences (from The Stone Roses to Abba).
Foolish Loving Spaces sounds different. It’s an album that oozes personality. Blossoms are one step closer to being unique.
Their sound may still, at times, veer towards the derivative – My Swimming Brain has more than shades of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. But it’s hard to argue with delightfully straightforward pop gems like Sunday Was A Friend Of Mine.
And The Keeper sets the gospel experiments of Primal Scream on a collision course with the blissed-out pop of Spiritualized, to extraordinary effect.Foolish Loving Spaces is the sound of a band hitting full stride.
9/10 (Review by Alex Green)
KESHA – HIGH ROAD
Sixteen tracks packed with energy, emotion and the F word – Kesha’s fourth studio album bursts opens like the singer-songwriter is desperate to burn off some energy and has chosen music rather than a punch bag to clear her head.
Party song Tonight, anthemic My Own Dance and Raising Hell feat Big Freedia start the album with a series of songs about living life to the full.
Things calm a little by song four, the impressive title track, High Road, which pairs a melodic chorus with fast rapped verses, but there’s still plenty of attitude in the biting lyrics about haters and betrayal even as things slow with Shadow and Honey.
Kesha’s childhood in Nashville influences Cowboy Blues and Resentment, feat Sturgill Simpson, Brian Wilson and Wrabel, while things turn saucy and fun with Little Bit of Love, Birthday Suit – scattered with arcade game bleeps – and Kinky feat Kesha.
The oompah tune and jerky marionette sound of Potato Song (Cuz I Want To) is an unexpected triumph before Kesha gets sentimental with BFF feat Wrabel and then Father Daughter Dance.
There’s a huge variety of songs on High Road. Sometimes raw, sometimes polished, with light and shade – you might not love every song but there’s something for almost everyone.
9/10 (Review by Beverley Rouse)
HALSEY – MANIC
The third album from electro-pop songstress Halsey is appropriately titled Manic, suggesting she’s offering a window into her own mental state, following her well-known struggles with bipolar disorder.
But it’s more of a reflection of how multi-dimensional Halsey is, as the poet first, singer second, creating stunning visuals from lyrics that are straight out of the mind of a normal, 20-something-year-old woman.
She’s introspective, questioning all aspects of her life, her flaws, as her inner thoughts cross topics of co-dependency, loneliness, sex, feminism, love, loving the opposite sex, loving yourself, and being your own person – not just being a fragment of a man’s world.
But Halsey reminds us that it is still a man’s world – something that she’s smashing through, fists clenched as she angrily picks fights with ex-lovers in You Should Be Sad, then serenades her current ones in Finally // Beautiful Stranger, while retaining her softness and vulnerability, as she sings to her unborn child in More. Seemingly, the shift in lyrical themes is reflected in the constantly changing mood of the music, making the album’s genre difficult to place.It might not be a conversation about mental health but it’s a celebration of womanhood, and Halsey is true and unflinching.
7/10 (Review by Sophie Goodall)