ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Beyond The Pale by Jarv Is (week beginning 19/7/20)

WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: Save The Whale; Must I Evolve?; Am I Missing Something?; House Music All Night Long; Sometimes I Am Pharaoh; Swanky Modes; Children Of The Echo

The first Pulp album we fell in love with (His’n’Hers) contains a track that pinpoints the exact moment when summer dies (David’s Last Summer), ‘the whole sound of summer packing its bags and preparing to leave town’.

  • Read on for reasons including how Cocker’s new band Jarv Is bring the best out of him since his 90s rise

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ALBUM OF THE MONTH: SAWAYAMA by Rina Sawayama (July 2020)

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: Dynasty; XS; STFU!; Comme Des Garçons (Like the Boys); Akasaka Sad; Paradisin; Love Me 4 Me; Bad Friend; Fuck The World (Interlude); Who’s Gonna Save You Now?; Tokyo Love Hotel; Chosen Family; Snakeskin; Tokyo Takeover

Renowned for his encyclopaedic pop knowledge and his hits-filled back catalogue plundered in last year’s film Rocketman, none other than Elton John last month named this the ‘strongest album of the year this far’.

  • Read on for reasons including why you should get ready to fall in love with SAWAYAMA

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FILM REVIEW and ALBUM REVIEW: Eurovision Song Contest: The Story Of Fire Saga starring Will Ferrell

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

OUT now on Netflix

This film is well-timed because in the 65-year history of the Eurovision Song Contest it has been held annually apart from 2020 when Covid-19 caused its cancellation.

  • Read on for reasons including why we shed a little tear at this film’s surprising and moving conclusion

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ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Chromatica by Lady Gaga (June 2020)

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

OUT: 29/5/20

TRACKLIST: Chromatica I; Alice; Stupid Love; Rain On Me; Free Woman; Fun Tonight; Chromatica II; 911; Plastic Doll; Sour Candy; Enigma; Replay; Chromatica III; Sine From Above; 1000 Doves; Babylon

Madonna will be fuming at our Mother Monster (or the ‘monsta’ from ‘monstagigz’) as final track Babylon draws on Madge’s hit Vogue and with it Gaga crowns a triumphant and euphoric return to pop’s dancefloor.

  • Read on for reasons including where Gaga is due to play in London next

ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Okta by KEiiNO (May 2020)

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: Take Me Home; Black Leather; Would I Lie To You?; Spirit In The Sky; Dancing In The Smoke; Roar Like A Lion; Praying; Colours; Louder; Bed With The Wolf

A year ago in Tel Aviv Norwegian trio KEiiNO won the Eurovision Song Contest televote eventually finishing sixth overall with our favourite song of that year’s competition, the soaraway pop smash Spirit In The Sky.

  • Read on for reasons including our thoughts on this album’s four new tracks

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MINI ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch by Fat Rascal Theatre (May 2020)

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: Nasty; We Didn’t Make It To Disney; Unfortunate; Female Role Models; To Be King

‘My mother ate my father with lemon, lightly fried’ is a line from our titular protagonist Ursula in a parody musical that we’ve yet to see but are loving this song selection from.

  • Read on for reasons including what Fat Rascal Theatre is doing next – Covid-19 permitting

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ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa (April 2020)

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: Future Nostalgia; Don’t Look Down; Cool; Physical; Levitating; Hallucinate; Pretty Please; Love Again; Break My Heart; Good In Bed; Boys Will Be Boys

Spring 2020 was expected to see much-anticipated album releases from the likes of Lady Gaga, Sam Smith and Rumer but concern over how they they would land during a global coronavirus pandemic saw plans for them shelved, leaving the way clear for Dua Lipa’s sophomore collection.

  • Read on for details of where to see Ms Lipa on her UK tour in 2021

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ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Manchester Calling by Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott (March 2020)

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: The Only Exercise I Get Is You; If You Could See Your Faults; Somebody’s Superhero; Big News in a Little World; You and Me (Were Meant To Be Together); The Outskirts Of The Dancefloor; So Happy; A Good Day Is Hard To Find; Fat Of The Land; All Of My Friends; The Prison; House Party 2; He’s Got What I Had; New York Ivy; MCR Calling; My Legal High

Over 30 years ago on BBC Radio One’s much-missed Round Table single review show star Cyndi Lauper misheard the lyric of The Beautiful South’s brilliant Song For Whoever as: ‘I love you from the bottom of my pants OK.’

  • Read on for reasons including how to see Heaton and Abbott on tour this Autumn (coronavirus permitting)

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ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Hotspot by Pet Shop Boys (February 2020)

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

OUT: now

TRACKLIST: Will-o-the-Wisp; You Are The One; Happy People; Dreamland; Hoping For A Miracle; I Don’t Wanna; Monkey Business; Only The Dark; Burning The Heather; Wedding In Berlin

It seems a very Pet Shop Boys moment that, as the UK leaves the EU, the duo’s ‘Berlin album’ enters this country’s chart at number three.

  • Read on for reasons including how this is the Boys’ best album for 14 years

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ALBUM OF THE MONTH: Fairytale (International) by Saara Aalto (December 2019)

WORTH A LOOK?: ****

OUT? now

TRACKLIST: Every Christmas Day; Christmas Without You; Let It Go; Starry Skies; Can I Keep The Pictures?; Fairytale Of New York

Aalto won our Best Album monsta last year for her Wild, Wild Wonderland LP and, although its follow up is only half a dozen tracks long, it signposts an interesting future for her singing original songs.

  • Read on for reasons including why live is where Aalto always excels

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