Now it’s the end of year again, time to review some albums released in 2014 from our beloved so-called Britpop scene. This year’s release activity is not as heavy as 2013, though there are some new singles thrown to the floor such as by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and The Charlatans, which may indicates some greater Manc albums to anticipate in 2015. Therefore supposedly, these 8 LPs could bring a fresher air into your playlist (in case they haven’t been there). Check them out here, listed in alphanumerical order:
1. “48:13” by Kasabian
Tell me how does Kasabian manage fans’ expectation on their albums’ sequence. If you pay attention on the progress from West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum (2009) to Velociraptor (2011) to 48:13, it’s obvious to see that Kasabian have done too much experiment on electronic ambient and dump them all inside this shocking-pink no-cover art album. While ‘Bumblebee’ still can be considered as Kasabian’s classic rocking beat, turns out disco-ish “Eez-Eh”, for example, will drive you thinking that this band is slightly on the edge of jumping into something people will loathe but it’s still acceptable on live stage performance.
2. “A Flash of Darkness” by Mark Morriss
Even though The Bluetones has disbanded years ago, you may expect its debris to be reconstructed again brilliantly in their vocalist’s solo project. Not too far from sounds of Bluetones, but less exploration on guitar now. As you can hear in “Consuela” which is a classic pop break-up song, but delivered with melody repetition played in a safe way. In “Space Cadet” Mark is mixing acoustic guitar with simple synth a la Supergrass in a catchy bright-colored Britpop tune that surely will satisfy “Return to The Last Chance Saloon” lovers. Try his cover of The Shins’ piece “Pink Bullets” here and compare it to the original version. It is definitely one of this album’s highlights.
3. “Everyday Robots” by Damon Albarn
Finally it’s a Damon Albarn’s solo album that was NOT extracted from the opera act or involves any super-group collaboration. Well matured like a fine wine, this eclectic piece of art is a collage of Albarn’s lifetime music journey. “Everyday Robots” intro reminds you to Gorillaz, “Hostiles” is typical The Good, The Bad and The Queen, “Mr. Tembo” is a fragment of Africa Express, and short yet simple “Parakeet” type can be found in some tracks at Dr.Dee, et cetera, et cetera. Forget Blur’s young angst Britpop mode and let’s agree that “Heavy Seas of Love” will someday soon bring him into NME Godlike Genius reception.
4. “Futurology” by Manic Street Preachers
As exactly today last year I wrote that Manics would release another album after 2013’s “Rewind The Film”, this is it, their 12th album that was recorded alongside the eleventh; Futurology. Such a right decision, since “Rewind The Film” was more calmingly nostalgic, this is a comeback of their Britrock riffs and beats, though lyrically they both delivered the same message of disappointment and longing for everything undone. The track “Futurology” itself that opens the album with a chasing drums scenery and layers of James Dean Bradfield’s high voices, then a bolder Manics statement continued with “Walk Me To The Bridge” that has powerful chorus part and “Sex, Power, Love and Money” that reminds you well to “Generation Terrorists” era. Uh.. Are we missing Richey Edwards here?
5. Inspiral Carpets self-titled
Welcome back, one of Madchester seniors! After a comeback in 2003 and Stephen Holt rejoining the crew in 2011, Inspiral Carpets is back with a new self-titled album after 20 years absence of album release. Listen to “Let You Down” and expect some “Saturn 5” feelies all over the song (except the chorus part). After you listen to “Human Shields” and “Forever Here” you’ll realize, from the way of the consistency of organ sounds, Inspiral Carpets has never changed even a little bit.
6. “La Petite Mort” by James
Another Mancunian legend, competing with Manics in term of number of albums, here’s James’ 13th studio album with a no less than 7 minutes track opening called “Walk Like You”. La Petite Mort is a James just-right-album. If you listen to “Moving On”, you’ll get yourself humming “I’m on my way! I’m on my way!” instantly as easy as you caught “Say something! Say Something! Anything!” in the first place. Yes, that’s the way to describe almost all tracks through the whole album, it’s that classic!
7. “Playland” by Johnny Marr
Just like Damon who is finally done his first album after a long list of other projects, so did Johnny Marr last year. It takes only one year later to get him released his second masterpiece “Playland” after 2013’s “The Messenger”. While on last year’s review I criticize on comparing Marr’s songwriting style to Morrissey’s, I have to admit that this year, it turns out Marr wins the battle completely. This is an album where he brought back the post-punk breath of The Smiths in “25 Hours” and “Boys Get Straight” tracks. “Easy Money” is an easy catch as a first single to this Mancunian laddish attire album, a right choice to grab both sides of Smiths fanatics, either it’s Moz side or his, both I bet will accept it gladly.
8. “World Peace is None of Your Business” by Morrissey
2014 is just another remarkable year for Morrissey. It’s marking his 25th year of solo career since “Viva Hate” release in 1989, as well as the launch of his 10th album “World Peace is None of Your Business” (WPINOYB). Two teasers were released before then, one featured him and Pamela Anderson on a rooftop (which categorized in one of 2014 Weirdest Music Moments by a particular media) another was him in a monologue of WPINOYB lyrics. As cynical as ever before, WPINOYB as the first single explains bluntly about the how government tends to make rich people richer and poor people poorer. Don’t forget to add some animal-loving tunes here “The Bullfighter Dies” and “I’m Not a Man” is aligned well with “Meat is Murder” theme. Favorite track goes to “Staircase at The University”, read Chapter 1 of his 2013 autobiography and you’ll know why he gave up education as a bad mistake.
Should there be any more albums to be put into the list? Let us know in the comment box! (Thakis)