Album Review: Sleeptalk – Sleeptalk

You don’t just listen to the 1975 as a musician without picking up any sort of inspiration. A catchy vocal phrase here, a nice bit of guitar there – it may not always be obvious, but it’ll be there. A band that shows this a lot are Sleeptalk; the influences are clearly there, perhaps even more than your average band. There is a line though, between being influenced by something and copying. So is this album just a shameless copy, or something more? Let’s find out.

The most listened track on the album, ‘Strange Nights’, already provides evidence to the contrary. A catchy melody accompanies some great guitar and an incredible bassline to make a song that i’ll be listening to for a long time. The chorus is by far one of the best I’ve heard this year so far, and has a certain way of getting into your head. In the same way, ‘Indio, California’ has an absolutely infectious bassline and a soaring chorus. But they’re just the most played songs on the album, is there anything else to find below the surface.

The answer to that is a resounding yes. ‘February’ is a great tune, containing some of the best vocal work on the album, showing the band’s ability at creating something emotional yet atmospheric. The guitar throughout drives the song along, building up to a wonderful chorus. The ‘you’re not alone but I can’t control you/you’re not alone but I can’t change your mind’ refrain was something that I found myself humming for a whole day after I listened to the album. In complete contrast, something more atmospheric is ‘What A Shame’ which is full of swirling synths and little sound effects that make it almost a dreamlike experience.

So, to address the idea that this might be too similar to the 1975’s work, it’s simply not. The influences are there, sure, but whenever anyone takes influence from someone else, they will likely be compared. The important thing is that this album is completely a fantastic piece of work on it’s own. The ideas are all the bands own, and while they were influenced by the 1975, they were probably influenced by loads of other bands at the same time. Now let’s stop comparing bands and enjoy what a fantastic album this is.

Best song: February

Score: 8/10

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My Top 10 Songs Of The Year So Far

We are about halfway through the year now, and loads of great music has already been released. In this post I’ll count down my favourite songs of the year so far, to show you some of what the music world has to offer at the moment.

10. Sharp Edges – Linkin Park

When I saw Linkin Park’s first new single this year, I never guessed one of their songs would make this list. But after approaching their album with a more open mind I began to love it, this song especially. It really showed the talents of the band, adapting their sound even more to make an almost country sounding song. A joy to listen to.

9. Black Magic – The Amazons

This song comes from my second favourite album of the year so far, only just beaten by Lorde’s Melodrama. It also features some of the best guitar work on this list, and promises to be an anthem for The Amazons for years to come.

8. With Or Without Me – SAINTE

When Tay Jardine of We Are The In Crowd announced that she’s be pursuing a poppier, more colourful sound in her new project, I was immediately excited – I thought it’d really suit her. And I wasn’t wrong either, as both songs she’s released have been excellent, and incredibly catchy. This is the pick of the two.

7. House On Fire – Rise Against

Rise Against produced yet another politically-charged masterpiece this year, but oddly enough it wasn’t one of the political songs that made this list. House On Fire, a more introspective look at the struggles of parenting not only had a lot of emotion and meaning, but sounded great.

6. No Way Out – As It Is

Here’s a song from the first ever album I reviewed on this blog – okay. by As It Is. It was undoubtedly the best song on the album too, with an incredibly emotional monologue from frontman Patty Walters halfway through. And trust me, it’s even better live.

5. Bottom Of The Ocean – Blink-182

The first song on this list from Blink-182’s incredible deluxe version of California, this showed a completely different side to the band, adding more electronic elements and a darker side to their sound. It worked perfectly.

4. Kiwi – Harry Styles

Yeah, I’m as shocked as you that Harry Styles appears on this list, but the truth is, he created a great album earlier in the year, with a range of rock and pop songs. Kiwi was the best of these, showing that rock music suits him a lot more than anyone would think.

3. 6/8 – Blink-182

If Bottom Of The Ocean showed Blink-182 straying from their roots, 6/8 shows themselves experimenting even more. Written in a 6/8 time signature (hence the name), and featuring shouted lyrics and heavy guitars, this is the most experimental song Blink-182 have ever created. And I love it for that!

2. Hard Times – Paramore

Well this is definitely the catchiest song of the year so far. The fantastic vocals, great bassline, and catchy guitar all blend together to make a great song. There’s not much else to say really.

1. Liability – Lorde

What a song this is! It is slow, haunting, and completely different from the usual electronic elements Lorde uses. It was completely unexpected, but that’s fine, because it is executed perfectly, and is the best song of the best album of the year so far.

Album Review: Blink-182 – California (Deluxe)

Roughly a year on from the release of last year’s California, Blink-182 have brought us yet more music. The deluxe edition of the aforementioned album contains the original 16 tracks, a brand new 11, and an acoustic version of ‘Bored To Death’. The original album was a fantastic return, so I was excited to see what the new tracks would bring. Would they add to the album, or would this be yet another shameless cash grab in the form of a deluxe edition?

From the opening of first track, ‘Parking Lot’, I could tell that these 11 tracks would be different. It’s an upbeat punky song, to compete with some of the heaviest material on the original California. You can definitely hear Matt Skiba’s influence on this one. Next song ‘Misery’ is also special, with an anthemic chorus that rivals some of the band’s best work. ‘Don’t Mean Anything’ has quiet, dark verses that build into a great chorus that has hints of modern pop-punk bands like All Time Low. Unfortunately there are weak points too. ‘Wildfire’ tries to hark back to older Blink songs, but comes across as a bit of a messy composition. This is quickly forgotten though, because following it is one of the best songs Blink-182 have ever written: ‘6/8′. It is also maybe one of the heaviest things they’ve ever written, and again, you can hear Matt Skiba’s influence heavily on it. Mark Hoppus’ melodic voice contrasts with Skiba’s shouts, and they mix together to create a great song. To contrast this, ‘Bottom Of The Ocean’ combines synth sounds and dark guitar to create a fantastically moody song. Finally, the album is closed out by an acoustic version of ‘Bored To Death’ that somehow sounds atmospheric and flat at the same time. The guitar work is excellent, but the vocals seem a little lifeless. It’s disappointing, but it does little to change the fact that I have just listened to a wonderful album.

California was already a great album, but do any of these songs add anything to it? Yes, undoubtedly. It’s great to see a more experimental side of Blink-182 on this album, and while some of the songs don’t work especially well, the majority are a delight to listen to. I really hope we’ll here more of this experimental side of the band on their next album, because there are hints of true brilliance here.

Best Song: 6/8

Score: 8/10