First music reviews of 2008

‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ by We Are Scientists – I am a big fan of their second album ‘With Love And Squalor’, but this is much better. Since that album they’ve lost their drummer (the aptly-named Michael Tapper) and continued as a duo. Where ‘With Love And Squalor’ was a fairly straightforward vocals / guitar / bass / drums in-your-face offering, ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ is more intricate, varied, catchy and ultimately more interesting.

Tracks like ‘Let’s See It’ and ‘Impatience’ are lively echoes their first album but are just better all round. ‘Lethal Enforcer’ is a clever mix of all the hallmarks of an ’80s pop tune, ‘Spoken For’ is nearly their first ballad (not quite, but it’s slow by their standards), and ‘Dinosaurs’ is the album’s grand epic offering. Best track is a toss-up between the next single ‘Chick Lit’ and the jazzy melodic ‘That’s What Counts’.

Listen to the two albums back-to-back and you could be forgiven for thinking you’d missed a few and they were ten years apart. ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ is a giant leap forward… and it’s so damn catchy, it’s been in my head all week.

‘Diamond Hoo Ha’ by Supergrass – I think Supergrass are one of the most under-rated yet consistently great British bands… ever. Especially when you compare them to the current crop of British bands I hear on the radio (Scouting For Girls I find particularly irritating).

After their previous rather short offering ‘Road To Rouen’ (eight proper tracks plus one throwaway instrumental) it’s nice to see them serve up eleven full very strong tracks. And thus the equation is simple – if you like Supergrass you’ll love this because it’s probably their best album. ‘Road To Rouen’ was fairly mellow, but with ‘Diamond Hoo Ha’ the guys return to what they do best – lively pop / rock. Occasionally they sound like the Rolling Stones, on ‘Ghost Of A Friend’ you can hear echoes of Mott the Hoople, and the final track ‘Butterfly’ reminds me of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’.

At the risk of a bad pun ‘Diamond Hoo Ha’ is an absolute gem.

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