News Column


November 1, 2013


Tinie Tempah: Demonstration (Parlophone) WITH both eyes obscured by a smearing of red paint on the cover, Tinie Tempah, wants to make the music the sole focus. Gone are the snappy specs and smart suit for Tempah, named Britain's best-dressed man in 2011. Coming three years after his debut Disc-Overy, Demonstration features collaborations with Ella Eyre, 2 Chainz, Labrinth and Laura Mvula. There are references to fame - on Children Of The Sun, Looking Down The Barrel and Lover Not A Fighter - but the hip-hop beats and cool rhymes throughout show off his evolved sound.

.... Shereen Low James Arthur: James Arthur (Syco) NOW in its tenth year, ITV's show The X Factor has offered up some of the best (and worst) talents in the country. Last year's winner James Arthur is arguably one of the most popular and credible. His self-titled debut features an amalgamation of influences, as the blues intro of You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You flows through grime and alt- rock elements. Supposed and Smoke Clouds also have an urban-pop vibe that suits the 25-year-old's gruff vocals, while Emeli Sande's duet Roses gives a beautiful balance. But the fusion of genres becomes confused at times, with some tracks jarring and showing a lack of focus.

... Holly McKenzie Levin Minnemann Rudess (Lazy Bones) TWO years ago, inventive Peter Gabriel/King Crimson bassist Tony Levin made an instrumental album with Yes drummer Alan White and Bowie guitarist David Torn. It was an entertaining blast, with White's revelatory playing leaving his recent work for his own band in the shade. Now Levin's back with two new sideman, ambidextrous drummer Marco Minnemann and Dream Theater keyboards man Jordan Rudess. It's a far slicker affair, with some extraordinary musicianship but less of the grit of the previous record. Even so, faced with the blazing all- out assault of Scrod or the invention of epic closer Service Engine, it's impossible to resist the trio's verve.

.... Sean Hewitt Icona Pop: This Is... (Atlantic) THE Swedish electropop duo's single I Love It was unavoidable this summer, with its brash catchiness ensuring gradual, and eventually huge, success. Now Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo unleash their debut international album, and if you loved I Love It, there is a lot more of that here. They capture the spirit of Spice Girls and Bananarama and make you want to jump on the bed and not do your homework. But there is little variation. Just Another Night is a departure with gentler vocals, but the pace soon resumes. There is no doubting their energy and lust for life on This Is..., but it's not clear the pair can progress beyond being one-hit wonders.

... Lisa Allen

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