Review: Damon Gough's millennial-era massiveness was never going to be easy to maintain. Such was the strength of his first record, preceding singles, that score to British smash hit movie 'About A Boy' and LP three, 'Have You Fed The Fish?', the Manchester maestro could have hung up his yarns then and retired comfortably. He didn't, and gradually moved towards 2010's 'It's What I'm Thinking Pt.1 - Photographing Snowflakes', a far more introverted work you needed to spend time with. So a return to the release schedule after the subsequent hiatus, perhaps presumed retired, was never going to be predictable. Take it from us, though, 'Banana Skin Shoes' is another Badly Drawn Boy album and a career landmark for more reasons than a comeback. Lyrically never more confident - even forsaking subtle metaphor for brazen emotions at times - and instrumentally innovative, intriguing hooks and curveballs abound, it could be his best to date.
Review: Donny Benet is many things to many people - but everyone agrees you want him at the party, where he's likely to be the last one standing. Glossy, over-produced 80s pastiche disco pop is always going to be divisive, but despite the overbearing commercial feel here the Australian curio is one of the most honest and real artists out there. Real enough to include a karaoke DVD with his first album. The balding and mustachioed synth master is on fine excellent here, although the context is different to previous outings. Made in hotel room isolation at a time when a world tour was postponed due to a global pandemic, it encapsulates the need for optimism and fun at a time when nobody really knows where the planet, or modern society, will be in 12 months. Indulgent, open and smooth beats to take the blues away.
Review: When Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess dropped 'Empathy For The Devil' back in February it burst onto playlists like the scorching sunshine it sounds like. A jaunty, carefree slice of summer pop, complete with proclamations of "What will be will be", it marked the return of a Britpop hero who is one of the era's most talented, likeable and consistent - his work after those heady days has remained highly original and varied. Those looking for more of the same on this, his fourth solo album, will be pleased to know it's hardly lacking in good vibes. 'Sweetheart Mercury' follows the aforementioned single and album opener, and it's equally sublime and bouncy. In fact, anyone looking for something subdued must wait for 'Undertow' and its piano and vocal build, which is still a track of strength rather than vulnerability. Packing a powerful punch while never failing to explore new ideas, it's exquisite, timeless and essential.