News Column

ALBUMS OF THE WEEK [Birmingham Mail (UK)]

October 25, 2013


KERRY PERRY: Prism ? KATY Perry has harnessed the darker elements in her life, like her divorce from funnyman Russell Brand, for this fourth album, Prism, but in true Perry style, it's never going to be all doom and gloom. Prism opens with the anthemic Roar, with the 28- yearold singing, "You're gonna hear me roar, louder than a lion, 'cos I am a champion...". Legendary Lovers features stomping beats and drums, while new single Unconditionally is all about love. Prism shows Perry (born Katheryn Hudson) is still sugar and spice, and everything nice.

BOY GEORGE: This Is What I Do ? 1980s icon Boy George has been through some tough times battling drug dependency and prison sentences, but his new album finds him singing, "I think I've got my sparkle back". Certainly, the 52-year-old gleams and looks lean on the cover and the music has a fresh sound, with radiofriendly rock song King Of Everything offering an open-hearted sing-along refrain. The new style suits the singer's voice, which still has that striking combination of honeyed tones coated in a rasping reverb.

CHAS & DAVE: That's What Happens ? BEFORE teaming up with David Peacock, Charles Hodges said he toured the US with a band and felt like a fraud singing in an American accent. Thus, the concept of Chas & Dave was born, which continues with That's What Happens, their first album in 27 years since 1987's Flying. The rootsy, relaxed sound here is so chilled that at times it sounds improvised, and is the better for it. Several tracks are skiffle or cockney bluegrass, and they work well because of the duo's top-notch musical abilities.

LILY & MADELEINE: Lily & Madeleine ? IT'S perhaps surprising to learn from listening to Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz's eponymous debut album that the singing sisters are just 16 and 18 years old respectively. Album opener Sounds Like Somewhere is a melancholy meditation on loss, full of harmonised vocals and offset by the soft tinkling of a piano. Things pick up with Nothing But Time, a song apt for two teens. Elsewhere, the American duo showcase their beautifully blended vocals in Spirited Away and the haunting Disappearing Heart.

MATT CARDLE: Porcelain ? WHILE hardly setting the charts alight, 2010's X Factor winner Matt Cardle has still used the exposure the show gave him to carve out his own pop-rock space. He leaves power ballads behind him, only slowing down for the understated, piano- led Not Over You and final track Porcelain. Gentle beats and basslines link the rest of the tracks. The Southampton singer has said he wanted to expand his range, which manifests as a pleasantly lower pitch. All in all, not a bad offering from a music contest alumnus.

UNION J: Union J ? JAYMI Hensley, Josh Cuthbert and JJ Hamblett were Triple J before George Shelley was added to the mix and they became Union J and finished fourth in the 2012 series of The X Factor. The boy band's self-titled debut opens with the upbeat single Carry You, as well as ballads Beautiful Life and Amaze Me, the cheeky Head In The Clouds and Where Are You Now with its heavy dance beats. Comparisons to One Direction are inevitable, but musically, they have more dance influences than Niall, Zayn et al.

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