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album reviews.

FRANK OCEAN - BLOND HHHH H WITH Blond, Frank Ocean's second studio album, the 28-year-old has taken the playfulness and vulnerability of his debut, Channel Orange, and run with it.

The album's opener Nikes teases the listener, giving the first glimpse of Ocean after four years through auto-tune as he pokes fun at overconsumption and pays tribute to Trayvon Martin. Elsewhere Beyonce is relegated to background noise - but brilliant background noise at that - on Pink + White.

Blond is a hedonistic, paradoxical and extremely vivid look into the artist's mind, playing back heartbreak (Solo, Ivy) and lessons learned from years gone by.

An, at times, erotic ode to teenage years spent well and an adulthood adjusting to fame, Blond is an album full of songs that Frank Ocean loves - and he's lucky that what he loves, everyone else wants to hear.

GLASS ANIMALS - HOW TO BE A HUMAN BEING HHHH H WHEN Glass Animals' debut Zaba hit shelves in 2014, it was a breath of fresh air - but left reviewers in a quandary as to how to actually describe it.

Electro-pop? Indie rock? Psychedelic R&B? It was all these things and so much more. Follow-up How To Be A Human Being is, arguably, even more eclectic, building on their existing sound with everything from big bhangra beats one moment, to 8-bit chip-tuned riffs the next. Yet, like Zaba, it remains astonishingly accessible.

Singer Dave Bayley retains his trademark, atmospherically androgynous vocals, and his lyrics remain enjoyably unpretentious (opener Life Itself, for example, features the modest refrain, "I can't get a job/So I live with my mum") - which is surprising, given the breadth and depth of talent the band possess.

Throughout, this is a bright, breezy, feel-good romp across genres that is impossible not to enjoy.

LEWIS & LEIGH - GHOST HHH HH THE debut album from Americana duo Lewis & Leigh is an impressive showcase. Consisting of Wales' Al Lewis, and Alva Leigh, from Mississippi, the pair have already released three EPs. Harmonious album opener There Is A Light is a haunting, almost a capella track that leads us to Rubble, a song that contrasts Wales and the Southern US and hints at tragedies the areas have suffered.

It's an interesting glimpse into history and a little frustrating that the pair never really go back to it. Ghost, with minimal backing throughout - often to great effect - loses its way somewhat, but recovers in the final four tracks. Whiskey And Wine wraps things up tidily, with neat lyrics and dreamy vocals. All around, a well produced slice of Americana-pop.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Article Type:Sound recording review
Date:Aug 29, 2016
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