Listen Up: This week's album reviews
This week's album reviews.
Album of the week: Pusha T - King Push (Def Jam)
Terrence 'Pusha T' Thornton first came to prominence in Clipse, the rap duo he formed a decade ago with his brother Gene, aka No Malice. They parted ways, creatively, after three well-received, but weak-selling albums, and since then T has been the busier of the two. Signed to Kanye West's label, GOOD Music, the Virginian who once called himself the "new Jay Z" now moonlights as its president.
Subtitled Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude, it's being billed as the first of two linked albums - the other to be released late this year. Clocking in at a lean 33 minutes, it's an intoxicating collision of minimilist beats, brooding basslines and surefire word play. Lead single 'Untouchable' finds T rapping appreciately about Bono and the Edge on a self-aggrandisment anthem that's co-written with Timbaland, who's listed as one of the album's many producers. It samples Notorious B.I.G.'s 'Think Big' to impressive effect. Elsewhere, the predicament that world football's governing body finds itself in lends the Q-Tip-assisted 'FIFA' its most startling line: "Drug money kicking around like it's FIFA."
His boss, West, pops up the album's most commercial track, M.P.A. but the pick of a strong collection is the urgent, arresting 'Got Em Covered'.
Daughter - Not to Disappear (4AD)
The second album from the London trio is no less gloomy than its first, but there's something bewitching about Elena Tonra's bleak world-view. 'Doing the Right Thing' is a painful mediation on loss as she sings "I have lost my children/ I have lost my love/ I just sit in silence", while 'Alone/With You' evokes an unhappy relationship. Atmospheric and beguiling, it's an album to get under your skin.
Dylan Leblanc - Cautionary Tale (Single Lock)
The Alabama-raised LeBlanc finds his voice on this accomplished third album with a title that hints at how he went off the rails after his first flush of success. Several of the tracks, including 'Easy Way Out' channel the Laurel Canyon songwriter scene of the 70s and in places his singing is not too dissimilar from Neil Young. Sweet arrangements and keenly observed lyrics make the album a winner.
Cass McCombs - A Folk Set Apart (Domino)
The Californian troubadour is prolific - seven albums in 10 years - and this collection of rarities underlines his songwriting gifts. He's comfortable in either confessional mode ('Bradley Manning', about by the former US soldier and trans woman, now known as Chelsea) or full-on punk attack ('AYD'). All over the place, but in the best possible way.
Classic album revisited: Dr Dre - The Chronic (1992)
An exhilarating, furious and profound album from the future billionaire in the wake of his departure from NWA, it's one of the most influential rap albums ever. Every track is like a sucker-punch, not least 'The Day the Niggaz Took Over' with its incendiary line, "It's time to rob and mob and break the white man". Always one for unearthing new talent, it gave the world Snoop Dogg.