Galoshins - EP1/EP2 (****)
Recorded separately but released concurrently, EP1 and EP2 work well in combination as a single, album-length introduction to Galoshin’s peculiar brilliance. Shake Up opens the first, its rolling drums, restless organ lines and distorted howls initially resembling punked-up merseybeat before visiting more abstruse territories. As the remainder of EP1 unfolds – from The 4th Chord’s driven art-pop to the off-kilter creep of Mink – the band’s chameleonic qualities sharpen, their nervy eclecticism keeping listeners on their toes.
EP2 repeats the trick, tailing opener Chank’s adrenalized post-punk with a jazzy coda that adds further hues to an already busy palette. Devil in Us is another highlight thanks to vocalist Mark Macphail’s frenetic delivery, while final number Get Me out of This Hole ups the mania with cackles and moans, ending on a high. Further EPs will follow later this year, but these twin releases offer more than enough to be getting on with.
Out 4th February
Christopher Owens - Lysandre (****)
Despite quitting last summer, it seems Christopher Owens isn’t quite ready to leave his time in Girls behind, with his solo debut loosely inspired by his former band’s first tour. Running just 28 minutes (that’s two minutes shorter than Girls’ Broken Dreams Club EP), Lysandre is an undeniably slight work from the prolific songwriter, but it’s fecund with ideas and charm.
It opens with the brief but integral Lysandre’s Theme – a pretty flute motif that establishes the record’s wistful, sometimes whimsical, tenor. If the theme’s medieval undertones are a turn-off, however, brace yourself: variations resurface with bold regularity (a sax version on the Eels-like New York City, a keys take on the yearning A Broken Heart, and so on). But while some will consider the melody excessively deployed, others will toast its unifying effects; weaving through tales of introspection and self-doubt, it fosters a winsome and captivating sense of harmony.
Acres of Lions - Collections (**)
Over a year since its Canadian release, the second album from British Columbia’s Acres of Lions arrives in the UK tripping over its own peppiness and oozing calculated heartache from every gloss-clogged pore. Though smartly presented, with buffed-up choruses and radio-friendly polish, Collections is a limp, generic and bland set that solves an equation no one ever posed: what might Jimmy Eat World sound like if they took inspiration from Scouting for Girls?
Lead single Reaction carries a particularly strong flavour of the latter thanks to finger clicks and bouncy piano lines, while everything about Kids, from lyrics (“we were young and we were bright / with diamonds in our eyes / you kissed me on the summer’s edge”) to production (including mid-song crowd sing-along) strains unsuccessfully for the relative respectability of unit-shifting millennial-emo in the Saves the Day vein. The results sound cynical and watered down; undeniably proficient, but difficult to warm to.