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By Shereen Low CD REVIEWS.

Byline: Shereen Low

CD REVIEWS TROYE SIVAN - BLUE NEIGHBOURHOOD Low By Shereen Although he boasts 3.17 million Twitter followers, 3.7 million YouTube subscribers and sells out gigs around the world, you may not have heard of Troye Sivan if you're over the age of 25. That's because the 20-year-old doesn't owe his popularity to record label executives or televised singing competitions. The South African-born Australian singer found his place on YouTube, where he's been sharing regular covers, original songs and videos featuring fellow famous pals, like Zoella and Tyler Oakley, since 2007.

Sivan's debut studio album certainly won't disappoint. One of the most captivating things about Sivan is the sincerity in his haunting voice, and it's complemented by gorgeous harmonies and backing melodies. Soft percussion, 80s-inspired keys and oodles of synthisiser provide a hazy, melancholy backing track to songs about falling in love, navigating a relationship and nursing a broken heart. Standout tracks include Wild, an ode to first love in suburban neighbourhoods and Heaven, on which Sivan debates whether God will accept his sexuality. These are not just great pop songs, they're pop songs with a gritty edge, written by an artist who is pouring his heart out to an audience he trusts.

BEANS ON TOAST - ROLLING UP THE HILL Essex singer-songwriter Jay McAllister, aka Beans On Toast, has come up with the novel approach of releasing an album every year on his December birthday. Rolling Up The Hill contains 12 tracks full of his acerbic and witty lyrics, most accompanied by his trademark acoustic guitar.

Think of a hybrid of Ian Dury and Billy Bragg with an extra dose of venom for good measure, although McAllister's wry sense of humour also shines through. Superb opener The Mudhills Crew, about a misspent youth, sets the tone, although it is on God Is A Cartoonist, about the futility of religion, where he really comes into his own.

FOXTROTT - A TALLER US Foxtrott is the nom de plume of Montreal beat couturiere and mix merchant Marie-Helene Delorme, an artist raised on hip-hop, but with a taste for catchy pop and an instinct to deconstruct its base form.

With her debut album on the One Little Indian label, Delorme splices and dices to impressive effect, chewing up chart convention and delivering an enriching, arresting sound, still packed with hooks, but emboldened by heavy bursts of bass, stealthy sampling, synths that fizz and practically sing melody. Think of Robyn for a pop touchstone, or Jessy Lanza for sonic similarities. Perhaps even, at a stretch, Ray Of Light-era Madonna. With Driven and Shields, Delorme delivers a pair of icy, skewed but dancefloor-ready tracks. On the closing Heads Under Water, she throws in the kitchen sink, thumping bass bumping up against her own powerful vocals. One to watch, for sure.

LIL BUB - SCIENCE & MAGIC Lil BUB already has a million followers on Instagram, a book, a documentary, a web series and now an album under her belt. For a four-yearold feline, that's pretty unusual. But then again, Lil BUB isn't exactly your everyday moggie.

Her debut album, titled Science & Magic: A Soundtrack To The Universe sees BUB collaborate with meow-sicians Andrew W.K and Matt Tobey. The pair describe themselves as "creative vessels" for BUB's musical talents, and claim they have harnessed the spirit and soul of the famous cat to express her artistic vision. Yes, the concept is totally bonkers, but what does it sound like? Surprisingly, we don't hear a lot of Lil BUB's vocals. There are a few meows and purrs here and there, but the vast majority of the album is made up of science fictioninspired synth, dreamy 80s keys and eight-bit inspired electronic blips. There's a variety of genres at play; opening track Hello Earth takes the listener on an atmospheric journey into outer space with smooth strings and space-age synth, while Another Voyage fuses BUB's meows with ambient lazer zaps. You've got to be kitten if you think Science & Magic is going to make musical history, but this light-hearted combination of cool synth tracks and cat noises is surprisingly won-fur-ful.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 11, 2015
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