The Pure Conjecture - Gendres (****)
With its electric pink colour scheme and handwritten font, one would be forgiven for approaching Gendres with thoughts of Kavinsky and satin scorpion jackets in mind. If so, you’d be advised to quash such wayward associations, for The Pure Conjecture offer retro pleasures of a very different fashion. This is sophisticated, soulful night music in which lush production and bandleader Matt Eaton’s measured croon evoke everyone from The Zombies to Curtis Mayfield to Teenage Fanclub.
As on debut Courgettes, Eaton’s backed by a raft of musicians including fellow Armellodie artist Johnny Lamb (Thirty Pounds of Bone), plus members of British Sea Power, Electric Soft Parade and The Hazey Janes. Together, this super-ish-group provide a rich array of instrumentation, with cinematic strings, warm brass and some gorgeous glockenspiel lines all bubbling up at different junctures. Thankfully, any potential for a broth-spoiling surfeit of cooks is nimbly avoided, with subtlety reigning throughout and all elements balanced beautifully.
Out 7th October
Young Aviators - Self Help (***)
Born in Northern Ireland but embraced by their adopted home of Glasgow to the tune of a place on the Electric Honey roster, Young Aviators offer strong introductions on debut Self Help. Stow College’s student-run label has a decent ear for commercial prospects, and though stylistic similarities are slight, you wouldn’t discount Young Aviators following past signees (and fellow Irish émigrés) Snow Patrol into the big leagues, with their catchy choruses built to fit larger venues than those they currently inhabit.
While their default position is upbeat and bouncy, a couple of more sedate numbers (namely apocalyptic ballad Deathrays in Disneyland and AOR finale Sunset on the Motorway) introduce pleasant contrasts; there’s enough lyrical finesse, meanwhile, to add depth to the evident surface pleasures. Running to just nine tracks (including a semi-reprise) it remains to be seen whether Young Aviators have the legs for the long-haul, but for now they’re flying.
Out 7th October
Your Loyal Subjects - Austerity Measures (***)
Led by guitarist and vocalist Doug MacDonald, one-time duo Your Loyal Subjects return 50% larger, using an additional six-string to open out their sound. Their interest in dynamic riffage remains (as does their eye for a striking sleeve design) but otherwise second full-length evidences a diffusion in MacDonald’s musical interests, offering considerable variety across its 10 tracks.
Arguably, the band’s principal selling points are technical, with MacDonald and cohort Benn Smith equally comfortable whether tackling crisp afro-beat grooves or crunchy metal-tipped fretwork. Behind the kit, meanwhile, Kirsty MacConnell proves similarly versatile, her restless rhythms enlivening standouts like Hypersleep. Less distinguished are MacDonald’s vocals (more than passable in a live context but blighted by limited range on record), while errant quality control means it’s not only genre that varies from one track to the next. Consequently, while exhilarating, it ultimately falls short of the heights it hints at.
Out 7th October