Album of the week: Elvis Costello news, The Lumineers, Cat Power – Culture

Elvis Costello – “The Boy Named If” (Emi/Universal)

Hard to believe. There rises Elvis Costello for years step by step higher in his ivory tower, becoming more and more artistic and serious until you think well, you have to wear a tie to be able to listen to him. And then suddenly this album: “The Boy Named If” (Emi/Universal). It sounds as if the man fell from the top of the ivory tower straight into a fountain of youth and stayed in for a thorough bath. First song, first note, bam: loud, snotty, noisy 60s beat, the lyrics to an angry outcry from a 20-year-old at most. Title: Farewell OK. And Costello keeps the tension over 13 songs, the mood, the ingenuity, the power. Suddenly he’s nagging and bawling again as if the 80s just started yesterday.

Apparently someone had to deal with the inevitable, with transience, with saying goodbye to old times, in order to find the drive back to those old times. Costello calls the new songs “snapshots that deal with the last days of being young and that humiliating moment when you’re told not to act like a kid anymore”. But for everyone who still likes it a bit more grown-up, he has a treat: the album is also available as a classy CD-book combo, with 13 of his short stories. One for each song. Can you read with a tie? Max Fellman

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FKA twigs – “Caprisongs” (Warner Music)

Tahliah Barnett, known as FKA twigs, likes ambiguity. The music of the English singer moves very freely in the broad field between electronics and experiment. And when she releases a collection of new songs, she doesn’t just call them “albums” but “mixtape”. You might think it’s a bit of a stretch, but there’s something to it: “Caprisongs” (Warner Music) features a lot that was created as a duet with colleagues like The Weeknd, Jorja Smith and Daniel Caesar. Barnett says the album, sorry, mixtape is “my journey back to myself through my collaborators and friends”. The smooth R’n’B songs with the catchy choruses will again ensure a good number of clicks, but the angular pieces in which everything remains strangely fragmented are more exciting than ever, for example in the great “Honda” with its broken beats and church choirs . And what you definitely have to give FKW twigs credit for: even if a song calls for a party in its approach and attitude, there is always a touch of melancholy, of it could-be-over-anytime soon. And what would be better suited to the present out there? Max Fellman

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(Photo: Domino Records)

Cat Power – “Covers” (Domino Records)

“Covers”, the new album by Chan Marshall aka Cat Power, is as tastefully arranged and extremely accessible. This time, alongside Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, Iggy Pop and Nick Cave are also The Replacements and Nico among the performers, with Marshall not picking the most obvious songs. The sound is the one she’s been cultivating since “The Greatest”. Casual, airy and quietly glamorous even in the sparsest of arrangements. On the one hand.

On the other hand, it could also run anywhere without being a nuisance: in expensive shoe stores. At funerals. At weddings where the wedding DJs secretly doubt the couple’s connection. It’s barista music. Cafe latte with oat milk music. The kind of music that sometimes makes you think you want to turn on music until you realize there’s music playing. Juliana Liebert

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The Lumineers – Brightside (Universal Music)

And actually that’s almost the perfect definition for them Lumineers, who had reduced the concept of manufactory-blessed singer-songwriter shambles to the absolute purest, finest essence with their really, really big hit “Ho Hey”. But then her new album “Brightside” (Universal Music), while it’s going on, suddenly pushes itself into consciousness again and again. Invites you to indulge for a moment. Or just to tilt your head as if looking at a particularly beautiful mountain panorama. And when you look, you realize: Oh, “AM Radio” again. Ah, Big Shot again. Seem to be good, catchy songs. Even by the way. That’s a lot. Jacob Biazza

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The Wombats – “Fix Yourself, Not The World” (Awal/Rough Trade)

If this were an animal column instead of a pop one, then it would definitely be time for a hymn to the Australian wombats. crazy animals! Visually a mixture of giant hamster, mini bear and seal, pleasantly round with short legs, a bit bustling, but cosy. To use an old-fashioned word – cute. Best of all, wombats produce cube-shaped droppings. No joke. What other animal can do that? But well, it’s supposed to be about pop music here, and so swing to it The wombats from Liverpool: With their cheerful power pop, the trio has been playing in the British midfield for years, is present at all the major festivals and does a lot of things right again on their new album “Fix Yourself, Not The World” (Awal/Rough Trade). Good momentum, fed by the guitar pop of the 90s, choruses with rich melodies and always pretty lyrics (very nice the head-up line “I’ll get out of bed / stop listening to radiohead“). But with all sympathy: The three of them can’t quite keep up with the real wombats. Less cute, less funny. And cube-shaped … well, let’s leave that. Max Fellman

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Bonobo – “Fragments” (Ninja Tune)

Speaking of wildlife, something new from Simon Green. The Englishman has been making music under the name for many years bonobo (Pygmy chimpanzee, Pan paniscus, a primate species of the great ape family). On the previous six albums it was mostly dreamy ambient walks, a lot of cloudy euphony, sometimes bordering on a meditation soundtrack, but always tasteful. Green’s new album, Fragments (Ninja Tune), takes it a little more radio-ready, with guest vocals and a bit of cocktail vibes. That tilts a bit in the direction of soul pop, a pity, but it also offers a welcome opportunity to put on “Black Sands” again, the album with which the man defined his own beautiful dream world years ago. Max Fellman

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