Rock, September 2021

hfnalbum.pngThe Go! Team
Get Up Sequences Part One
Memphis Industries MI0684CD; LP: MI0684LP

The Go! Team's sixth album begins with 'Let The Seasons Work', an overture of bleeping synths, Zappaesque brass figures and flute arpeggios, all buoyed up by a funky rhythm section. Ian Parton's arrangements brilliantly dovetail samples and played instruments – part finely crafted structure and part multi-stylistic mash-up. On 'I Love You Better' harpsichords borrowed from John Barry dance around revved-up My Bloody Valentine-style guitars and vocalist Ninja's sweet, primary coloured melodies. 'World Remember Me Now' is the highlight, a hybrid of big grinning synths, brass parps and steel drums, all surmounted by an irresistible pop tune and ethereal backing vocals from the Kansas City Girl's Choir. MB


Stephen Fretwell
Busy Guy
Speedy Wunderground SWP004CD; LP: SWP004VS

The former Ivor Novello Award nominee's first album for 13 years is a song cycle of sorts, played on acoustic guitar, with electric guitar and cello overdubs. Fretwell – an excellent name for a guitarist – draws the listener into these enigmatic tales, with their dreamlike, cinematic flow. He surveys the strangeness of London from his window on 'Oval', and on the kaleidoscopic 'Almond' he sings, 'Gripping the railings in Tavistock Square/A paper lantern steals breath from the nitrous air'. 'Embankment' is narrated from the perspective of someone whose body has just been dragged out of the Thames and, like a good detective yarn, will take some unravelling. MB


Gary Kemp
Columbia 19439863462; LP: 19439863461

If anyone had said, back in Spandau Ballet's '80s heyday, that in 40 years' time Gary Kemp would be singing 'See Emily Play' with Saucerful Of Secrets, they would have been considered insane. But Kemp reckons that his spell in that group has improved his reputation as both guitarist and lead singer. His first solo album for 25 years is soul-infused pop with subtly deployed strings, brass, vocal harmonies and his own psychedelic guitar. On 'In Solo' Kemp offers poignant observations on time passing and trying to make sense of the present. There are nods towards Ray Davies and Paul McCartney, and on 'Waiting For The Band', Dark Side Of The Moon-era Floyd. MB


Snapped Ankles
Forest Of Your Problems
Leaf BAY126CD; LP: BAY126LP

Onstage, Snapped Ankles present themselves in shamanic garb, or like more streetwise versions of the Ents from The Lord Of The Rings, or disguised in homemade masks. They make a propulsive, twitchy, techno-infused rock with drums, sequencers, keyboards and bleeping synths. It all fits conceptually, though, embodying a desire to be close to nature even if that entails driving failing technology into it like a wedge. 'It's a great time to be alive if only you've got some funds' they state laconically on 'Shifting Basslines Of The Cornucopians'. This album is about ecological and economic collapse but also having fun before all that happens. MB