The sun might be setting on the Great British Summer, but in the world of music things are far from cooling off.
August saw a wealth of albums drop for our listening pleasure, with quality releases across the board – there were records for grime, trip-hop and R&B fans, as well as lovers of pop, folk and rock.
From pioneers like Tricky and Kano, to those using their art to unravel deeply personal stories – such as Shura or Marika Hackman – and UK jazz innovators Nerija, here’s our round-up of some of the best albums August brought us.
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Kano - Hoodies All Summer // REVIEW
Three years after his MOBO winning album ‘Made In The Manor’ was released, Kano is back with his most important piece of work to date: ‘Hoodies All Summer’. His sound and message evolve with each release, this one being less personal and more communal with its tone. Even saying so himself; “[Made In The Manor] was about me, this album is about ‘us’.” It serves as a record that gives a voice to inner-city communities.
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Grey Hairs - Health & Social Care // REVIEW
This is no survival manual, more a reminder to those exhausted by the horrors of the era that they’re not alone. And while they’d no doubt wince at hearing it expressed in such simplistic terms, it really fucking rocks too.
An album for our time, sure, but one for the ages nonetheless.
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Tool - Fear Inoculum // REVIEW
One hopes that people will give this album the time of day it deserves and understand that whilst writing this album Tool have thrown away and dumped entire albums worth of material, constantly going back over the last five-year writing period and tinkering, rewriting, rerecording in an effort to get it exactly right.
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Tricky Presents: False Idols - Test Of Time // REVIEW
In true Tricky style, ‘Test of Time’ doesn’t feel like the usual comp a label puts out: all the tracks here are compelling and intriguing - it’s impossible not to be drawn down each song’s rabbit-hole to see where it goes.
Ultimately, what the project proves is that Tricky has lost none of that creative spark that made him such a captivating and mesmerising artist in the first place.
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Nerija - Blume // REVIEW
‘Blume’ is the kind of album that you can get lost in, if you let it, but don’t fight against its natural flow. At this stage of their career Nérija are a solid and virtuosic group, who have delivered two pretty flawless releases in less than three years.
If this is what they are capable of now, imagine them when it comes time to make their next album. And that’s something to get very excited about.
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Snoh Aalegra - Ugh, Those Feels Again // REVIEW
Snoh Aalegra isn’t seeking dominion over the charts. Creative self-sufficiency and artistic integrity, instilled in her by her mentor, Prince, has meant she’s eschewed big label money and payola deals. Her output speaks for itself; authenticity is her calling card.
Album closer, ‘Peace’, embodies the appeal and evolution of Snoh Aalegra - a bridge between the referential sounds of monolithic icons with the corporeal face of contemporary R&B. She’s past and future, concurrently. With that in mind, the Swedish-Iranian singer may have released one of the definitive breakup records of the year.
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Shura - forevher // REVIEW
It was in the basement of a Minneapolis house when Shura began talking to her current girlfriend online. ‘forevher’ is an ode to an America threatened of social inequality and mass injustice, reimagining it in a far more romantic manner. ‘Skyline’ is reflective of this, powerful, dark and Depeche Mode-like.
To Shura, behind its current government and institutions lies an America that’s actually full of hope, the country that bore her most valuable asset: love that sees no boundaries. ‘forevher’ is just like this - an album for everyone.
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Bon Iver - i,i // REVIEW
This is a sound of a warm, human futurism. A record that feels impressionistic and abstract, dominated more by feeling than theme. Heavy sounds deployed deftly. Sometimes it feels a little fragmented (like on the slightly off-kilter swagger of ‘We’). But as he muses on the determinedly epic 'Faith', “at dawn we ain't mazes, just some kind of pages”.
A cycle that opened ten years ago has closed. And the concluding chapter is a world away from its beginnings – brimming with ideas, textures and the creative heft of its contributing cast. Let’s see what he does next, thawed from that winter’s chill.
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Marika Hackman - Any Human Friend // REVIEW
Marika Hackman knows exactly who she is, and 'Any Human Friend' is proof of that. Each track builds on its predecessor; we delve deeper into the story with each song. One thing that is surprising is how the record never feels obnoxious or arrogant - it is just self confident.
The record peaks in its first four tracks, definitely, but even so, the album never falls short of hot and sticky - in a good way. In the best way. 'Any Human Friend' is powerful, sexy, and self-assured - pretty much exactly what we expected from Marika, but even better.
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Lana Del Rey – Norman Fucking Rockwell // REVIEW
“Out of the black, into the blue” — the last words Lana Del Rey repeated on her previous record 'Lust For Life' which ultimately signified a shift in her lyricism, outlook and state of mind all of which had been a ternary in guiding the icon through her musical career.
On her fifth major-label studio album, she absorbs all elements of psychedelic pop, rock and folk-country and piano to create a dream-like experience which embodies her signature sound and aesthetic. Although on first listen it may appear inaccessible and tedious to some listeners due to its Californian themes and static aura, it marks itself as one of Lana’s most cohesive and constitutional albums.
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