Review: You may already know 22-year old Norwegian pop singer Aurora Aksnes for her rendition of Oasis' "Half the World Away" for a John Lewis Christmas advert in 2015, but if not, she's the biggest thing since Robyn. This latest record, following A Different Kind Of Human (Step 1) from last year, presents a third album to date and one that forms the second part of last year's surprise release. Fast-paced, hopeful, dancey and nordically folkal music, (Step 2) sees Aurora deliver something more experimental than before with its themes said to focus on ecological crisis and societal concepts of individualism. Syncopated basslines, staccato vocals and criss-crossing rhythms hit all the right spots in "Apple Tree" while our other pick "In Bottles" combines '90s pop sensationalism with breakbeats made to fit house tempos. Tip!
Review: Three years ago, teenager Claire Cottrill became a viral sensation via her song "Pretty Girl", a bedroom produced slice of lo-fi pop perfection that earned her a legion of online fans. Now 20, Cottrill has delivered a debut album that's as intimate and confessional as her earlier work, but a little more polished production wise. As critics have pointed out, "Immunity" offers the best of both worlds and is packed with arresting, interesting songs. Check, for example, the drowsy, other-worldly dream pop of "Alewife", the R&B-influenced indie-pop shuffle of "Closer To You", the rock-fired growl of "North", the glistening, pedal steel-sporting goodness of "Safely" and the glitchy late night sweetness of "Sinking".
Review: Upbeat, upfront and wholeheartedly unapologetic, the return of Friendly Fires is about as proud as an album can be. After eight years off whatever soul searching took place has clearly paid off, even if only to give them the confidence to make these tracks. There's a pure 80s chart-disco vibe throughout the track list. From the breathiness of that "Baby I" line on "Can't Wait Forever" to the sexy and sleazy "Offline", which might as well be an homage to George Michael. It's no cheap parody, though, with enough accomplished musicality here to ensure that an instrumental pack would have club DJs with penchants for yacht pop chomping at the bit. Not least the frantic pace and punching kicks of "Almost Midnight", synth accents taking us closer to the outfit's debut than anything else here, perhaps with the exception of closer "Run The Wild Flowers".