New music reviews fresh out of the box

LILY ALLEN
No Shame (Parlophone/Warner)
4.5 stars


BRITISH singer Lily Allenís fourth album is not only her most personal to date, itís the most brutally honest record from an A-list pop star in recent memory.

No Shame serves as a post-mortem to her marriage, a document of self-medicating with alcohol and some very public self-shaming over her parenting and infidelity.

Refreshingly Allen remains one of the few modern musicians who is as open in her music as she is in her interviews and social media. Authentic has become a hijacked buzz word, especially in a very beige world, but itís also been Allenís MO from day one.

No Shame is also a celebration of new love, lessons in female empowerment for her daughters (Cake) and a manual on surviving your life and identity imploding.

Opener Come On Then sets the scene of a fragile state of mind, not helped by Twitter trolls: ďIím a bad mother, Iím a bad wife, you saw it on the socials, you read it onlineĒ.

Musically itís an update of the emotional synth work Marianne Faithful was doing on Modern English.

Trigger Bang, up there with the long-list of Allenís finest moments, is another zero-effs-to-give acknowledgement of triggers in the singerís night job: ďit fuel my addictions hanging out in this whirlwind.Ē

The dub-tinged What You Waiting For? serves as an apology to her husband (ďI turned a strong man weak, Iím hoping somehow he will forgive meĒ), followed by Your Choice which seems to dare him to leave ó ďDonít be upset, Iíve always said that a man canít own me...if you want to go thatís fine, thatís your choice not mine.Ē

As sheís done in the past (The Fear, Not Fair) Lost My Mind is a trojan horse pop tune with a hidden message inside - basically the post-mortem of a marriage breakdown. Higher taps into the same time frame, but you can almost literally hear Allenís heart break through her resigned and bruised vocals.


The utterly devastating Everything To Feel Something is a musical IV line directly to Allenís lowest point ó itís the new The Drugs Donít Work. ďSex, alcohol and drugs, itís a long way off amazing but I canít ever see it changing,Ē she sings.

Family Man merges John Lennon and Massive Attack for a truly stunning ballad that takes a raw snapshot during the death throes of her relationship.

Three, written from the perspective of her daughter wondering why her mother isnít home (ďyou say itís work but Iím not sure...please donít go, stay here with me, itís not my fault, Iím only threeĒ) is enough to make even the coldest heart gasp.

Apples is so unflinchingly honest you feel like youíre listening to her diary (ďtowards the end we were not even having sex, I felt like I was only good for writing the chequesĒ) before comparing her divorce to that of her parents. Ouch.

Yet her loss is our gain ó Allen snaps out of the creative autopilot mode that sunk some of previous album, Sheezus.
The emotion in her voice and the precision and pain in her lyrics are the perfect antidote to an increasingly safe music world. No one writes lyrics like Allen, something she rarely gets credit for. Plus thereís tunes for days ó pop music doesnít have to numb or dumb it down and Allenís worked with more edgy, underground producers than her previous records without being self-indulgent or self-sabotaging.

Itís not all grim ó Party Lily is back on My One (admittedly her admission to infidelity, but still a banger) and Pushing Up Daisies is the sound of a healed heart ó the happy ending the album needed. Welcome back. /CAMERON ADAMS
VERDICT Raw power

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKE... Marianne Faithful, Nick Cave

KANYE WEST
Ye (Universal)
3.5 stars


Kanye has long been a meta artist ó commenting on the commentary. But this micro-album, made inWyoming, offers less insight into the cultural polymathís recent political controversies than his family life and mental wellbeing ó and with oft-misconstrued sardonic humour. Ye opens with the stark spoken word I Thought About Killing You. The pinnacle is the John Legend-blessed Ghost Town ó a corrosively deconstructed Runaway. Ye is a strangely compulsive work from a man in flux. /CYCLONE WEHNER

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKE ÖTaylor Swift

THE BAMBOOS
Night Time People (Pacific Theatre/BMG)
3 stars

The Bamboos are indefatigable. Lance ďfunky fingersĒ Ferguson and his squad present us with their eighth album, a sun-soaked good time that suffers from a sugary aftertaste (Lit Up, Golden Ticket, Backfired) then rescues the situation with a late hip-hop injection, three different versions of Broken with rappers Teesy, J-Live then the best last, Urthboy. Itís a strange, weirdly appealing concept and credit to the band seeing this idea through to a logical, edgy conclusion./MIKEY CAHILL

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKE ÖKatalyst, Chic, ELO

THE PRESETS
Hi Viz (EMI)
4 stars


Itís a stroke of accidental genius.

The Presets became known as a band known for slamming disco rock (My People, Talk Like That) and melancholy house (This Boyís In Love) then pulled the ripcord and freefell into sea-shanties and anti-EDM actual-songs on 2012ís thumb-biting Pacifica. The genius part?

Returning to their strong suit.

Their fans are hanging out for Hi Viz and, in 2018 tweet parlance, The Presets see you.

Knuckles is an odd, anxious, skittering Atari-bleeps opener, then Do What You Want pulls you on to the dancefloor and tears your belt off with its teeth. Itís like Rammstein and Skyhooks punching each other with kisses. Martini is a more straightforward 4/4 in-between club track, shades of Plump DJsí Fabric-made Eargasm album.

It clicks into the vicious tech-house of Beethoven, Hamilton taking a sip on his glass of milk as he becomes A Clockwork Orange character. NB: they hold back a Mozart sample until the coda. Downtown Shutdown is the piece de resistance, this yearís Chameleon, replete with bright, local African voices.

Itís the jam that will forge peace between both Laurel/Yanny and North/South Korea.

Gear-shift, Alison Wonderlandís guest spot on Out Of Your Mind fires up the Pyro punk attitude. It singes as it slams ó definite single. Tools Down is a tradie knock-off banger that features Jake Shears. He kills with his shrills.

Are You Here feat. DMAís sees The Presets elicit an original, sweeping vocal take. Pretty impressive. 14U+14ME uses vocoder (make it stop) then things get nasty in the best possible way with Until the Dark closing all the doors of the club and cancelling your Uber. The Presets hold a lock-in. They know you donít really wanna go home yet. /MIKEY CAHILL

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKE... the Chemical Brothers, Chromeo

FATHER JOHN MISTY
Godís Favorite Customer (Sub Pop)
4 stars


The sadder he gets, the gladder we get. Father John Misty is almost levitating, he canít put a verse wrong because heís a smart, sullen dude who is honing his craft. Hangout At the Gallows is Aimee Mann calming Supertramp down. Date Night sees him in form: ďDo you wanna go to the park? Iíll get you ice-cream if you give me your card.Ē Like Arctic Monkeysí recent work, it has a snarky, svelte sense of humour. Mr Tillman is a glimmer of hope (and he ainít that sad). Donít fight him. /MIKEY CAHILL

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKE.. Jeff Buckley, TISM

NICOLE MILLAR
Excuse Me (EMI)
3.5 stars


Sydneyís Nicole Millar broke out as a vocalist/writer with her guest turn on Peking Dukís mega-hit High. Ironically, sheís dropping a debut album before them. Prefaced by 2016ís single Signals, Excuse Me is all Friday night bangers with lyrics fostering female freedom and empowerment. Though Millar leans towards sleek post-EDM, Gimme a Break evokes Rudimentalís drum Ďní bass and Sign Me Up (featuring rising US rapper Heno) is glitch-hop. Millar just needs a summer festival to perform at. /CYCLONE WEHNER

TRY THIS IF YOU LIKE...Dua Lipa, Rita Ora