Review: Britain's most successful synth-pop duo might now be in their early sixties, but the Pet Shop Boys are still capable of crafting near perfect songs - as their forthcoming album "Hotspot" proves. There's plenty to enjoy on this taster single, which like the rest of the album was co-produced by Stuart Price. "Burning The Heather" is a warming and autumnal affair, with their usual bright synths being toned down in favour of jangly acoustic guitars and the kind of bittersweet electronic sounds that dominated their superb 1990 album "Behaviour". Flipside "Decide" is a more upbeat and throbbing affair that includes a rare vocal from the sometime "third sexist man in pop" Chris Lowe (albeit one drenched in auto-tune).
Review: For the first decade of her career, Caroline Polachek was known as a singer/songwriter for hire - an artist who added her distinctive vocals (and sometimes lyrics) to tracks by the likes of Sebastien Tellier, Washed Out and Jorge Elbrecht. "Pang" is her debut album and is strong enough to suggest that she may soon be in the spotlight as a solo artist. Made with the assistance of a range of low profile - but undeniably talented - collaborators and co-producers, the set fuses evocative electronics and tuneful synthesizer leads lines with rhythms and instrumentation that variously doff a cap to classic, string-laden torch songs, indie-rock, bass music, early '80s Kate Bush, ambient, trip-hop and glassy-eyed AOR disco-pop.
Review: The latest edition in Universal Japan's cheery 'Pops Best 100' series of reissues is Katy Perry's Prism, the 2013 set that effectively defined the American singer-songwriter's glossy, EDM-influenced power-pop sound. Largely producer by DJ Cirkut, Dr Luke and Max Martin, but featuring contributions from Benny Blanco, Stargate and Greg Kurtin, the set is an action-packed pop-romp that mixes and matches elements of R&B, synth-pop, electro-house, pop-rock and - more occasionally - hip-hop to create one excitable, radio-friendly whole. This edition also boasts two bonus editions of mega-hit (and album opener) 'Roar', including the fizzing, fidgety EDM heaviness that is the Gazette Remix.
Review: This special 180g, peach-coloured version of Sign O' The Times is a faithful reproduction of the original, but there is also a super expanded reissue due that unveils a real wealth of unheard songs that are sure to send fans wild. That said, the original from 1987 is already classed as a masterpiece amongst many fans of The Purple One. As well as the well known singles, it serves up cold minimal funk, party jams, musings on the bleak realism of life and all manner of impossible fusion of jazz, soul, rock, pop, synth and gospel that only this most special of artists could have pulled off.
Review: New mum Katy Perry's legacy is already pretty much assured. Whatever she turns out now will likely get her back in the charts, and the headlines, whatever it sounds like. He latest album 'Smile' is not as jam-packed with pop hits as past works have been, but it is still a competent collection of big tunes that will strike a chord with fans. It's packed with jaunty arrangements, self-reflective commentary and plenty of allusions to her private life and musically it touches on classic candy pop, trap influences and forlorn anthems, as well as some of the cartoon-ish styles she has been associated with since day one.