Review: Inspired initially by the likes of Screaming Jay Hawkins, Tom Waits and Nina Simone, the Wicklow-born Andrew Hozier-Byrne nurtured his own unique voice, taking soulful gravitas and bluesy grit and using them to sculpt songs with both a soul-searching approach and an unusual earthiness. His first single Take Me To Church was a surprise hit, its existential crises and potent melancholy striking a chord via their intensity of delivery, and this debut shows that it was no flash-in-the-pan. In a world of young artists overly obsessed with overstating their own authenticity, it doesn't take long to work out you're in the presence of one with raw talent to render such concerns redundant.
Review: Few people adhere so gloriously to the old-fashioned idea of a pop star than Brandon Flowers, who more often than not comes across - in classic Ziggy Stardust fashion - much like an alien emissary who's landed on the planet designed solely for this purpose. By no means a master of understatement, he nonetheless maintains a positively effortless expertise in making the kind of stadium-ready barnstormers that many others struggle to create. Moreover, he's excelled himself on 'The Desired Effect', producing an uplifting, refreshingly unselfconscious selection fashioned entirely from bombastic pure pop glory; the influences of Pet Shop Boys and Springsteen may be manifest, but this confection is Flowers' and his alone.