New releases for 9 June 2023

The first of this week’s sizzlers out the bag is Careful of Your Keepers: daring and soft, cutting and warm, this is a wild feat of complexity and combined dispositions. There’s a shared language of This Is The Kit’s family experience that is as audible as ever in these recordings, which boast beautiful instrumental performances that still leave the nuanced space required for Kate Stables’ vocals to live at the forefront. “The album was nearly called Goodbye Bite. And in a way it still is,” says Stables. “I went for Careful of Your Keepers in the end. It’s one of my favourite songs on the album, a song that for me holds the general feeling of the album as a whole. The fragility of things. Of situations. Of relationships. Of humans. What we do to look after each other and ourselves. The passing of time and what that does to us, and how we live our lives going forward.

Paranoïa, Angels, True Love was written, performed and produced by Christine And The Queens, with co-production by Mike Dean (Lana Del Rey, Beyonce) and guest appearances from 070 Shake and Madonna. Chris explains: “This new record is the second part of an operatic gesture that also encompassed 2022’s Redcar Les Adorables Etoiles. Taking inspiration from the glorious dramaturgy of Tony Kushner’s iconic play ‘Angels in America’, Redcar felt colourful and absurd like Prior sent to his insane dream-space. The follow-up, Paranoïa, Angels, True Love, is a key towards heart-opening transformation, a prayer towards the self – the one that breathes through all the loves it is made of. Prior’s real agony in ‘Angels in America’ is a deep, painful becoming, a shedding of all waters and memories, that then allows angels to immerse deep too, and offer back profound, narrative-altering love – a rest in true love.

Teeming with melodic epiphanies and layered sounds, Squid’s second album, O Monolith, is a musical evocation of environment, domesticity and self-made folklore. Like its predecessor, 2021’s critically acclaimed, UK number 4 album Bright Green Field, it is dense and tricksy – but also more warm and characterful, with a meandering, questioning nature. Expansive, evocative and hugely varied, O Monolith retains Squid’s restless, enigmatic spirit, but it still holds surprises for those familiar with Bright Green Field. It’s a reflection of the outsized progression of a band always looking to the future. Like its namesake, O Monolith is vast and strange: alive with endless possible interpretations of its inner mysteries.

Be Opened by the Wonderful is a 20-track collection of some of James’s most loved and rare tracks, re-imagined with a 22-piece orchestra and 8-piece choir. The album was recorded at Blueprint Studios in Manchester, orchestrated and conducted by Joe Duddell with the ORCA22 Orchestra, led by Andra Vornicu, and featuring the Manchester Inspirational Voices choir, directed by Wayne Ellington.

The return of Dream Wife is a moment worth savouring, with the band in electrifying form on their entirely self-written and self-produced third album, Social Lubrication. The incendiary and riotous record finds the trio once again tackling big subjects in their trademark unapologetic manner where, with the band being adept at merging the political with the playful, vital statements are hidden within hot and heavy anthems about making out, having fun and staying curious. Social Lubrication is, in the bands’ words: “Hyper-lusty rock and roll with a political punch, exploring the alchemy of attraction, the lust for life, embracing community and calling out the patriarchy. With a heathy dose of playfulness and fun thrown in.

Our release of the week is Weathervanes, the new album from Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit, which tackles issues such as gun violence, the opioid crisis and women’s rights all through Isbell’s signature songwriting lens. This is a collection of life-and-death songs played for and by grown-up people about adult love, about change, about the danger of nostalgia and the interrogation of myths, about cruelty and regret and redemption. Some will make you cry alone in your car and others will make you sing along with thousands of strangers in a big summer pavilion, united in the great miracle of being alive. A Jason Isbell record always lands like a decoder ring in the ears and hearts of his audience, a soundtrack to his world and magically to theirs, too. Weathervanes carries the same revelatory power.

Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit - WeathervanesThis Is The Kit - Careful of Your KeepersChristine And The Queens - Paranoïa, Angels, True LoveSquid - O MonolithJames - Be Opened by the WonderfulDream Wife - Social Lubrication

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