The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.
Pet Shop Boys, "Elysium" (Parlophone Records)- Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe travelled to America's West Coast earlier this year to assemble "Elysium," their latest elegant essay in superior electronic pop. Former journalist Tennant remains one of the genre's most eloquent lyricists, and this essentially low key offering finds him operating at the peak of his powers during gems such as "Leaving," "Your Early Stuff" and "Ego Music," with long deceased Baroque composer George Frideric Handel receiving an unexpected songwriting credit on the anthemic "Hold On."
The Milk,"Tales from the Thames Delta" (Sign of the Times/Sony)- The eagerly awaited debut album from energised Essex band The Milk reveals a whole host of unimpeachable musical influences, from The Jam and Bruce Springsteen to the classic sounds of sixties Motown. Vocalist Rick Nunn's impassioned tones are steeped in the spirit of the finest American soul music as he serves up visceral new creations such as "Broke Up The Family," "(All I Wanted Was) Danger" and "Picking Up The Pieces," the latter boasting a brief cameo appearance from charismatic actor Idris Elba of "The Wire" fame.
Barluath, "Source" (Nimbus NI 6206)- Barluath came into existence a few years ago when a group of young musicians from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland decided to transform their love of Scottish traditional culture into something a little more tangible. "Source" is the result, and although diehard folk purists may find some of the contents a little too polished and pristine for their liking the quintet's varied repertoire of Gaelic and English language balladry is well worth hearing nonetheless, particularly "The Fox Hunter," "The Trooper and the Maid" and "The Selkie."
Gottlieb Wallisch, "Mozart-Paris & Vienna" (Linn CKD 407)- Gottlieb Wallisch's second Linn CD finds the Austrian classical pianist delving a little more deeply into the delights of Mozart's keyboard repertoire, with predictably impressive results. Wallisch applies his precise instrumental technique to an absorbing mixture of much loved and relatively unfamiliar pieces as he builds on the sturdy foundations laid down by his well received 2010 debut set,"Mozart in Vienna."
Wanda Jackson, "First Lady of Rockabilly" (Metro METRSL037)- The pioneering Ms.Jackson was one of the first female singers to make an impact on the world of rockabilly during the genre's creative heyday in the fifties, but she also felt comfortable performing within the confines of mainstream country ,and this entertaining anthology reflects her eclectic approach to music-making. The track listing features covers of classic songs such as Wilbert Harrison's "Kansas City," Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally" and her former boyfriend Elvis Presley's " Let's Have A Party," all of them delivered with the throat-ripping growl which became Oklahoma born Wanda's arresting musical trademark.