2021 Albums/EPs: Week 5 (January 29 – February 4)

Welcome to Week 5 of these increasingly out-of-date round-ups of what I’ve been listening to during each week of 2021. A real mixed bag of stuff hit my ears on the last Friday of January.

Goat Girl – On All Fours (Rough Trade)

I’ve never quite worked out how much I like Goat Girl. I saw them live once on thought they were ace – energetic, moody, captivating. On record, I’ve never quite thought any more than “I like bits of it”.

I’m no surer on the back of second album On All Fours. If anything, they’ve maybe lost a bit of that quirkiness that drew me to them. Still, it’s a solid album, with ‘The Crack’ standing out for its pulsing, grinding qualities.

Their songwriting is no doubt maturing and becoming more radio-friendly, with a blues and soul nurturing shining through, but I still feel like I’m waiting to be really bowled over by these girls.

The Notwist – Vertigo Days (Morr Music)

I haven’t heard much of The Notwist. I vaguely remember some sort of animated video of theirs being on heavy rotation on MTV2 about 15-20 years ago, but that’s about it.

It’s probably time that changed as this is a fine album. Mournful and eerie, and in the vein of Sigur Ros in points, there’s a haunting xylophone/glockenspiel refrain that keeps repeating in the album, and there are certain hooks that just get into your head and stay there. The elegiac one in ‘Loose Ends’ jumps out, as does the murky trip-hop of ‘Oh Sweet Fire’.

Best record of this week for me – really enjoyed it.

Weezer – OK Human (Atlantic/Crush)

“All my favourite songs are slow and sad,” sings Rivers Cuomo on the opening track of Weezer’s fourteenth album. And I can go with slow and sad, but as an opener to this record, “all my favourite songs are cheesy and annoying” would be more accurate.

Weezer have never been a favourite band of mine but, like most people, I enjoy their best-known songs like ‘Buddy Holly’, ‘Hash Pipe’ and ‘Undone (The Sweater Song’). In recent years, they seem to have adopted an attitude of doing what they want and say “fuck the critics”, and fair play to them I suppose. They’re in a position where they’re able to do that. The last thing I heard by them was 2019’s Teal Album, which was a collection of pretty corny pop covers. Now, they’re shunning guitars completely and have gone full-on orchestra pop, seemingly to pretty good reviews, but I’m afraid I’m firmly on the “what the hell is this?” side of the fence.

For a start, what a terrible name for an album! If it were some some sort of riposte to Radiohead’s OK Computer, or had an obvious element of humanity (maybe it does and I’m missing it) behind it, I might think it was acceptable, but it just seems like taking the name of one of the most influential albums ever written and using an unfunny play on words.

Instantly, the name makes me not want to like the album, and the music cements that. Soft and bland as anything, with tedious “oh-woah-oh” type vocals. I’m sure there’s a market for it, but personally, I couldn’t get through more than a listen and a half of this album. Horrible!

Portrayal of Guilt – We Are Always Alone (Closed Casket Activities)

Something totally different and not normally up my street, but I have fostered a bit more of an appreciation for death metal in recent times, so would I enjoy this new second album from Texas hardcore punk/black metal fourpiece Portrayal of Guilt?

Hmmm…in parts, maybe. I think where I struggle with this sort of stuff is that I find it very hard to differentiate between one band and another, or even remember which track is which. And because it’s all so intense, it’s hard to take much from it other than the intensity itself.

They do their best to make a soundscape of it, to their credit. Surprisingly, the most brutal track, ‘Masochistic Oath’, is the one I like best, along with the grimy, post-punk elements of ‘Garden of Despair’.

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