After the excitement of getting Happier Than Ever in July, August just kept on giving with lots more inspiring musical releases. In a month that saw the opening of the Tokyo Paralympics, the start of the new Premiership season and the return of Extinction Rebellion protests to London the U.S. ended it’s presence in Afghanistan, Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake and ‘Ida’ left one million in Louisiana without power. Kanye came back with his long awaited 10th studio album, Donda, Reading & Leeds returned to put on the biggest UK festival in two years to the ecstatic delight of tens of thousands and multi-million selling breakthrough artist Olivia Rodrigo had to continually defend plagiarism claims surrounding her global number one album, SOUR. Britney came one step closer to freedom, rumours ramped up about the possibility of a new Abba record following teasers on TikTok and not one, not two, but three more Little Mix’s were brought into the world. As well as all that going on there was also our top five favourite releases, here they are.
Halsey: If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power.
After giving birth to her first child, Enders, on July 14th, Halsey has wasted no time at all in bringing her next creation into the world with the delivery of her fourth studio album, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power. The Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (Nine Inch Nails) produced album has already garnered a lot of critical acclaim for the 26 year old New Jersey singer-songwriter. The 13 track album is an empowering exploration of sexuality, motherhood and ultimately love. It’s a change of direction and a bold, strong statement from the Closer singer and we love it.
Lorde: Solar Power.
Lorde’s return was a very welcome one when earlier this year she released her first single in an age – the title track to her new album, Solar Power. The Auckland native had been largely off our radar for some time and the prospect of a new album had fans in a lather. Not since 2017’s excellent Melodrama had Lorde released a full length album. When she followed up Solar Power with the beguiling and captivating second single, Stoned At The Nail Salon we knew that the wait had been well worth it. When you hear Lorde sing, “Cause all the beautiful girls, they will fade like the roses, And all the times they will change, it’ll all come around, I don’t know” you can’t help but be won over. Lorde’s new 12 track album is a wonderful and evocative piece of work, delicately crafted but bound by the strength of it’s character.
Self Esteem: How Can I Help You.
Rebecca Lucy Taylor seems to have taken the enforced lockdown restrictions and run away with a new, unflinching and unapologetic creativity. After the release of her first new single of the year, I Do This All The Time, the former drummer and singer with folk duo Slow Club has subsequently released the title track from her forthcoming second solo album, Prioritise Pleasure, and more recently, on August 23rd, How Can I Help You. The powerful song is a strong statement, that sees Taylor give an impassioned performance that is a far cry from anything on her debut album, Compliments Please. Speaking about the new record RLT said that it was “13 songs of cleansing myself of the guilt and fear of being a woman who is ‘too much’ and replacing that very notion with a celebration of myself, of you, of being a human and the way that isn’t always easy or perfect, and that’s ok”, adding that, “I think it’s maybe my finest hour!” We couldn’t agree more.
CHVRCHES: Screen Violence.
The fourth full length album from Glasgow synth-pop trio CHVRCHES follows 2018’s Love Is Dead with a polished and piquant set of ten songs that stretch the sound of the band into a broader more cinematic style that suits the epic sounding nature of the new material. The band’s lead single, and near perfect piece of electro-pop – He Said She Said, released back in April, was a brilliant appetizer to the main course. The inspired inclusion of The Cure‘s Robert Smith on the album’s second single, How Not To Drown, and the evocative retro production on the 80’s sounding Good Girls are just a couple of the added delights on the new album.
Maisie Peters: You Signed Up For This.
It would be easy to dismiss Maisie Peters as lightweight, insignificant or maybe even throwaway. Peters’ blend of folksie pop is a difficult market to crack, it’s overcrowded with many pretenders to distract you from the quality that can be found within the ever popular genre. Olivia Rodrigo has lead the way this year with her incredibly successful breakthrough album ‘SOUR’ but Maisie Peters is not OR, or even trying to be. Peters is her own singer-songwriter, developing her writing and honing her style. She’s far more savvy and intuitive than many of her peers and her lyrics point to even better stuff to come in the future. Maisie is more Phoebe Bridgers or Courtney Barnett than Rodrigo or Bella Poarch and her songs have an underlying character that brings about some great story-telling. You Signed Up For This is a very credible debut album from the 21 year old former YouTuber.