New releases for 10 March 2023

Kicking off this week’s six stormers is visionary Swedish singer-songwriter and producer Fever Ray, who has finally returned to us grateful fans with a splendid new long-player, some five years after their last outing (2017’s Plunge). Radical Romantics is a return characterised by a somewhat darker and more brooding mood and feel. This work is most definitely drifting further from and plunging deeper than what we recognise and love as The Knife but my golly-gosh, it is so very rewarding, slamming and sonically rich – it is fantastic!

Grammy-nominated Rival Sons release their anxiously awaited new album, Darkfighter, their first new music since 2019’s Feral Roots. Vocalist Jay Buchanan shares: “Darkfighter represents the cultural mitosis of isolation, the pandemic, and the national fabric of the US getting looser and looser. We’re so divided, and you can’t step over the lines without offending someone. It certainly informed my writing. We recognised a responsibility to put a good word on people’s ears so there’s a good word coming back on their tongues too. We missed the joy of the live show and that magical interaction. When it was taken from us, that made me want to sing about topics that were important. There are strong themes on this record of loss of identity, preservation of joy, and beholding light and shape again.

Van Morrison’s love of skiffle dates back to his childhood. He would hang out at the famed Belfast record store Atlantic Records, where he’d hear early 20th-century folk, blues and jazz from the likes of Lead Belly and Jelly Roll Morton. So when he first heard Lonnie Donegan’s take on ‘Rock Island Line’ he intuitively understood the music he was hearing; before long, he was playing with a skiffle band in school. Moving On Skiffle finds him taking a homemade style that exploded across Britain in the mid-1950s and infusing it with a level of sophistication and soulfulness that it didn’t always possess the first time around.

Ward Thomas, the first and only UK country act to achieve a No.1 album – with 2016’s gold-selling Cartwheels – are back. After releasing their brilliant lockdown album Invitation, the Hampshire-based duo return with Music In The Madness – their fifth studio album. Music In The Madness is both a harmony-soaked balm for shattered souls and an uplifting reminder of what really matters. Love, family, unity and the healing power of music are recurrent themes on the album.

Dutch Uncles, the much-revered Mancunian electro art-rock quartet, return with their long-awaited sixth album. True Entertainment takes inspiration from Yellow Magic Orchestra, Prince, Steely Dan, Ennio Morricone, The Blue Nile, Kate Bush and Roxy Music. “True Entertainment behaves like it knows it’s been away for some time, and doesn’t apologise for that,” jokes vocalist Duncan Wallis. “Ultimately, it’s written with the mindset that on our sixth album, we’re only in competition with ourselves when it comes to finding satisfaction in our craft.” True to this mantra, True Entertainment bears some of the most delightfully fun Dutch Uncles music to date, paired with some of their most existential and introspective lyrics.

Our release of the week is UK Grim, the most dancefloor-friendly release yet from Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods: an urgent and sage-like look at life, living and the gritty reality of our era. This is truly the sound of now, not only in terms of the ideas and issues Jason Williamson’s strong words invoke, but also thanks to the innovative and immersive production of Andrew Fearn, which on this release has seen the pair collaborate on songs with Jane’s Addiction’s creative powerhouse, Perry Farrell and Dave Navarro, and with Florence Shaw, the distinct and vital voice at the heart of British band Dry Cleaning. Angry yet artful, innovative yet possessing an instinctual energy that irresistibly moves bodies and minds, UK Grim is an erudite electronic vision that truly engages with times that have been anything but ‘precedented’.

Sleaford Mods - UK GrimFever Ray - Radical RomanticsRival Sons - DarkfighterVan Morrison - Moving On SkiffleWard Thomas - Music In The MadnessDutch Uncles - True Entertainment

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