New releases for 1 September 2023

We kick off this week’s sizzlers with everything is alive, the fifth album from Slowdive, which is exactly what the title suggests: an exploration into the shimmering nature of life and the universal touch points within it. While there are parts of this record that could sit neatly next to the atmospheric quality of 1995’s Pygmalion, it also manages to break down the boundaries of what has come before it. Spanning psychedelic soundscapes, pulsating ’80s electronic elements and John Cale-inspired journeys, the album lands immediately as something made for 2023 and beyond.

The inimitable Pretenders are back with their 14th studio album, Relentless, which was produced by David Wrench and recorded at Battery Studios in West London. The album features 12 new songs co-written by the iconic Chrissie Hynde and the band’s guitarist, James Walbourne.

Royal Blood ignite an epic summer with the release of their fourth album, Back to the Water Below. From the very beginning, the story of Royal Blood has been one of two life-long friends whose shared passion for writing and performing has led them on a remarkable adventure together – a story that has yet to be repeated, and is a feat as rare as it is remarkable. Long before Royal Blood were even formed, they spent years together in various bands playing to half-empty bars around Brighton, and only then did they suddenly become a decade-in-the-making overnight success story: from plotting how to recoup the meagre £300 they had spent on their first recording to the top of UK album charts within a year.

Delirious chatter … the clink of cans of warm beer … Cocteau Twins played at full blast. Lively memories of parties and people live on through This House, the new album from Pale Blue Eyes. The house in question is there on the front cover, the childhood home of the trio’s vocalist and guitarist, Matt Board. Defined by closure and moving on, This House is shaken to its rafters as the band navigate the grief of recent parental loss. Alongside uplifting melodies that dance like no-one’s watching, the album is rich in life-affirming human connections, where music-making becomes a means of recovery.

A decade ago, Simon Neil and Mike Vennart would be found sitting at the back of the Biffy Clyro tour bus sharing the most extreme, confrontational or just downright twisted music they could find. Simon had always had the name Empire State Bastard lurking in the back of his mind if he ever formed a sickeningly heavy band, leaving Mike with the challenge of writing music that could live up to that moniker. Now the results are about to be unleashed on their debut album, Rivers of Heresy.

Our release of the week is a biggie: ÁTTA, the first new studio album in ten years from Sigur Rós, is their most intimate and emotionally direct record to date. Few bands cut through the noise and distractions of the world to bring you pure elemental truth or feeling like Sigur Rós. As you hear on ÁTTA, there’s a new compulsion and drive to the band that comes with the new formation of the line-up. Multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson is back in the fold – having left the band in 2012 – to join frontman Jónsi and bassist Georg Holm. ÁTTA leans heavily towards the orchestral, and touches on everything that has made Sigur Rós one of the most ambitious and acclaimed bands of recent times.

Sigur Rós - ÁTTASlowdive - everything is alivePretenders - RelentlessRoyal Blood - Back to the Water BelowPale Blue Eyes - This HouseEmpire State Bastard - Rivers of Heresy

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