Rock, May 2022

hfnalbum.pngTears For Fears
The Tipping Point
Concord 7240412; LP: 7240413

Tears For Fears are no strangers to collaboration, but a management plan to have their first album since 2004 written with other songwriters, 'almost by committee', stalled the project. Starting afresh, they recorded the rather uncharacteristic, rootsy opener 'No Small Thing', but what follows has the mix of structural complexity and sweeping melodies and harmonies that characterised the duo's heyday. This comes across strongly on the title track, which is based on an intricate electronic template by Charlton Pettus. Roland Orzabal sings lead on the urgent, synth-driven 'My Demons' and Curt Smith's voice soars sweetly through the wide-open spaces of 'Stay' on this impressive return to form. MB


Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard
Backhand Deals
Communion COMM462; LP: COMM464

The young Welsh band were due to support Noel Gallagher at the Royal Albert Hall in 2020; then the pandemic struck. Now, with their debut album, their star is back in the ascendant. Recorded in their own studio, with a vivid live sound, this is a confident statement, full of finely crafted tunes and headed by charismatic singer Tom Rees. 'On The Kill Again' is a gnarly, melodic rocker, but most songs are in an energised power pop style, with roots tapping back to the '70s, to Badfinger and Big Star, and up through Britpop and compatriots Super Furry Animals. Some might say they hark back to the past: in fact they breathe new life into those old forms. MB


Sea Power
Everything Was Forever
Golden Chariot GCR020CD; LP: GCR020VII

British Sea Power always seemed an odd name for a group, but two decades on they've slimmed it down to avoid nationalistic associations. That aside, the group have always allied songwriting skills to conceptual ideas, a strong connection with the natural world, and a love of sound texture – which at its most lush here feels like balm applied to songs that address the unease of our times. On 'Transmitter' they nod back to '80s bands such as New Order and The Cure. They also evoke the sonic swirl of the '90s 'shoegaze' scene and the album closes with the anthemic 'We Only Want To Make You Happy' with its Jacob's Ladder of guitars. MB


Anna Von Hausswolff
Live At Montreux Jazz Festival
Southern Lord LORD297

Historically, jazz festivals have offered homes to acts who aren't jazz but don't fit in elsewhere, and so in 2018 Anna von Hausswolff was invited to support Nick Cave at Montreux. The young Swedish musician is a singular talent whose first love is playing the pipe organ. But for her live ensemble here she uses keyboards, guitars and ominous, tolling bass and drum figures, as a springboard for her astonishing voice – soaring out somewhere between Elizabeth Fraser and Diamanda Galás. Her songs build dramatically from drones to climaxes of unholy intensity. And on 'The Mysterious Vanishing Of Elektra' she sings as if the very Furies had been unleashed. MB