It’s album season! This week, the reigning Queen of melancholy pop Lana Del Rey is back with the highly-anticipated Norman Fucking Rockwell! We also have the latest record from Ezra Furman, which is one I’ve personally been super excited for. In the new singles, we have big names like Charli XCX and the legendary James Blunt in the playlist this week. What a perfect way to end the week!
Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell!
The world has been really hyped for the release of Norman Fucking Rockwell!; Lana Del Rey has been releasing singles from the record since the end of last year, so fans have been waiting an age to hear the record in its entirety. Well-loved by critics and listeners alike for her distinct vocals and classic sound, we see some changes on the latest album, but nothing that compromises the Lana we know and love.
The title track has quickly became a fan favourite for its hard-hitting lyrics depicting the complexity of love and relationships. Other songs like ‘Venice Bitch’ show us a musically different side to the singer, being her longest track to date at over 9 minutes long.
A real highlight of this record is her cover of Sublime’s ‘Doin’ Time’, a song that perfectly matches her sound and artistic identity, so it’s no surprise that fans have received it with nothing but positivity. Another fantastic track is ‘The Next Best American Record’. Lana’s greatest asset is her vintage sound and vision, taking listeners back to classic Hollywood, mixed with a seedy underbelly and a hint of Southern gothic. Her music transports the listener to a more glamorous world.
I couldn’t possibly forget to mention ‘Hope..’ (no, I’m not writing out the whole title), which is lyrically, the strongest song on the record. Lines like “Don’t ask if I’m happy, you know that I’m not / But at best I can say I’m not sad” will catch you off guard and possibly send you into an emotional spiral.
Although Norman Fucking Rockwell is lyrically infatuating, I can’t help but wish the vocals were more of a priority. The soft, layered style here doesn’t live up to the stronger vocals of ‘Young and beautiful’ or ‘Video Games’ – I was always expecting a little more from Norman Fucking Rockwell in this regard. But there’s no doubt that this is one of the most impressive albums of the summer.
Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell is out now via Polydor Records. Check out ‘Doin’ Time’ below:
Ezra Furman – Twelve Nudes
I’ve been really excited about Twelve Nudes since the release of my latest obsession, ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’, but the album is still a pleasant surprise, with a harsh punk sound that was mostly hidden on the last single. It’s sharp and emotional, and quite possibly one of the most interesting records of 2019.
Twelve Nudes opens on ‘Calm Down aka I Should Not Be Alone’, a short and snappy opener, setting up the harsher punk sound that we can expect in the rest of the album. Other tracks like ‘Evening Prayer aka Justice’ introduce a more folk oriented alternative sound, while still maintaining Furman’s biting vocals. It’s a shame it’s only a 27-minute album; this is a sound you could listen to for hours.
‘Trauma’ is without a doubt one of the most powerful tracks on Twelve Nudes. It has all of the anger of a classic punk track with all of Ezra’s unique musical style. ‘Thermometer’ maintains this raw energy with its distorted vocal style, heavy guitars and pounding drums. These two tracks in particular are a shining example of modern punk, proof once and for all that the genre is not dead. Although the heavy distortion becomes less accessible in the likes of ‘Blown’, the album as a whole is a great listen.
My favourite by far is ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ (see my thoughts here), and I wish we had been offered a little more of this sound on the album. Nevertheless, Ezra Furman’s mix of the personal, the political and the musical are have come together to create a refreshing alternative album.
Ezra Furman’s Twelve Nudes is out now via Bella Union. Check Out ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ below:
Hunting Hearts – Pride Not Prejudice EP
This is an extra special addition to our weekly round-up; Pride Not Prejudice is the debut EP from local band Hunting Hearts. After almost a year of making their name in local music venues here in Southampton, the band have put together their first record, which was released on 24th August.
It’s emotional, a true demonstration of the power of positivity and punk, from a group dedicated to creating a space in the music industry for LGBT people. It’s a celebration of pride and the power of standing up and owning your identity. My personal favourite tracks are ‘Answering Machine’ with its stunning vocals, and ‘From Underdog Kids To Every Rad Fem’ – an anthemic battle cry against exclusion and transphobia. This is the local band that needs to be on your radar.
Hunting Hearts’ Pride Not Prejudice EP is out now via Ad Fundum Records.
Charli XCX feat. HAIM – ‘Warm’
Charli XCX’s upcoming album Charli inches closer and closer as she releases another collaboration, this time with HAIM. At this point I’m assuming it’s a collaboration album, a concept that has perhaps already been overshadowed (or ruined) by Ed Sheeran’s latest record. This isn’t the best of what we’ve heard from Charli XCX lately, standing as one of the more forgettable releases. Maybe I’m just really tired of collaborations.
Charli XCX’s ‘Warm’ featuring HAIM is out now via Atlantic Records UK.
James Blunt – ‘Cold’
I didn’t mean to choose ‘Warm’ and ‘Cold’ this week but here we are. Absolute legend James Blunt is back with a new single, and, of course, some brilliant tweets to go with it. It’s an upbeat tune, and quite classically James Blunt. He’s said that this is one of the most open and honest songs that he’s written, and as well as that it’s super catchy. Viva James Blunt.
James Blunt’s ‘Cold’ is out now via Atlantic Records UK.
Circa Waves – ‘Something More’
Circa Waves have been quickly rising to the top in the indie rock scene, and recently released a couple of tracks, following on from their album that came out in April 2019. They’re working hard, between the sheer speed at which they’re putting out music this year, as well as extensive touring. ‘Something More’ is classic chilled-out indie that gains momentum as it goes. It’s simple and memorable, and will no doubt please fans of the band.
Circa Waves’ ‘Something More’ is out now via Prolifica Inc.
Other Selected Releases
Alphabeat – ‘I Don’t Know What’s Cool Anymore’
A$AP Rocky – ‘Babushka Boi’
Bebe Rexha – ‘Not 20 Anymore’
Bombay Bicycle Club – ‘Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You)’
Cigarettes After Sex – ‘Heavenly’
Emeli Sandé – ‘You Are Not Alone’
Jax Jones, Tove Lo – ‘Jacques’
Post Malone – ‘Circles’
The Sherlocks – ‘Waiting’
Kano – ‘Hoodies All Summer’
Natasha Bedingfield – ROLL WITH ME
TOOL – Fear Innoculum
The S.L.P – The S.L.P
This Week In Records: Playlist Edition
Keep up to date with all of these releases and more in our genre-spanning weekly playlist! Updated every Friday with the latest tunes.