Yaaaaaaay! it’s time for Penny to share her acid sharp and smart thoughts on this months fresh February music releases. I always love hearing what she suggests but this month is a bumper one and might just solve your V-day problems when it comes to getting a little something for the boy.
They say music is the food of love, so with Valentine’s Day fast approaching I am here to feed your soul with another hearty plateful of audible treats. The following records are all romantic in their own little way, so whether you like your loving on an expensive yacht, in a log cabin in the woods, in a slinky boudoir, on a heaving dancefloor, or if (like me!) all of the above because you’re just not that picky, then there will be something for you to delight in here. Listen up, lovebirds! Here we go…
Lana Del Ray – Born to Die
If you’ve escaped the hype so far, give yourself a gold star. Lana Del Ray burst onto the internet last year to overwhelming critical acclaim, billing herself as the “gangsta Nancy Sinatra”, purring sultry anthem ‘Video Games’ and looking a million dollars. Mere months later it turns out she does more than just look expensive – she’s millionaire’s daughter Lizzie Grant whose previously flopped career is having a very PR savvy revamp. Her authenticity tainted by the whiff of record company invention, the critics start to turn on her. Lana Del Ray’s star has risen and plunged, and all while you’d popped out to make a cup of tea. The internet, eh?
This is still THE hotly anticipated album of 2012 so far, and it’s not bad at all. The sensuous, heady ‘Video Games’ is the best thing on here by a mile, but the first four songs all stand up to scrutiny, especially the brooding swagger of ‘Off To The Races‘. The production is lush and epic, Del Ray’s rich voice swoops and swoons over the beautiful orchestration. The repeated motifs of material glamour and doomed romance get a little overplayed and the quality tails off a bit towards the end, but there’s no denying the hooks are all here and it’s very stylishly done.
First Aid Kit – The Lion’s Roar
However if you’re after real emotion, there are better records out this month to spend your money on than the ones getting all the press. First Aid Kit are two Swedish sisters who also found fame on the internet when their cover of a Fleet Foxes song went viral in 2008. This is their second album, and it’s truly gorgeous.
This is folk music with a big spoonful of country, although for the most part you won’t care what it is. The sound has a fresh, modern twist which saves it from drifting into pastiche -even on the twanging ‘Emmylou‘, which goes as far as name-checking Johnny Cash. Johanna and Klara’s mournful vocals are locked in a relentlessly sweet harmony that skips over simple, plaintive guitar, singing bittersweet stories of sorrow, heartache and love that’s long settled into a weary dance. This is a wistful album crammed full of history that still manages to feel brightly inventive and authentic at every turn. They’re touring the UK this month too, with the equally impressive Samantha Crain – not to be missed.
Goldfrapp – The Singles
I’m not a normally an advocate of greatest hits collections – they tend to give me flashbacks to that scene from Alan Partridge: “favourite Beatles album? I’d have to say ‘The Best Of’!” However, when you get a cult band like Goldfrapp who have been popping out chart hits every now and then over the best part of a decade, it’s a canny way to get them all in one place. This is slick, sexy electro-pop, and when you gather all the big tunes together it’s consistently good fun.
Don’t be put off by unfamiliar song titles either – it’s surprising how many of these tracks you’ll already know. “Ooh La La”, “A&E” and “Number 1” have all been used in TV and advertising before now – I guarantee these and more are lurking around in your subconscious and you‘ll be singing into your hairbrush from the first listen. Perfect music for getting ready to go out with the girls.
2 Bears – Be Strong
When it comes to love, popular music is largely preoccupied with heartbreak and pain. Not the 2 Bears. This duo (featuring Joe Goddard of the brilliant Hot Chip) have created a record entirely concerned with the pure joy found on the dance floor.
The debt owed to the 1990s dance music scene is overwhelming – you might as well dress this album up in an over-sized smiley tee and give it a dummy to suck – but the tunes are enormous and it’s all done with a knowing wink and a true passion for the genre. Pretty much every track will have you reaching for the lasers – from the sweaty groove of ‘Bear Hug‘, through the 90s piano euphoria of ‘Work Harder’ to the anthemic house stomp of ‘Be Strong‘. This is a truly awesome dance record that you won’t be able to avoid this year. Get it now – you’ll be bear-hugging a stranger before you know it.
Thanks Penny – I’ve already started listening to these
Have you got any of these or are you thinking of making a purchase? (All of them are available along with all of Penny’s previous suggestions in Florence’s Amazon store) Do share your thoughts as always readers.