Londonist is a big fan of David Bentley look-a-like Brendan Benson's Lapalco album so we selfishly give him top billing in today's round-up. Dropped from his record label, Benson has managed to overcome the stupidity of his former label's A&R people to come out with The Alternative to Love. The Observer must also be a fan of Benson, as it says, "Why do people bother with Ryan Adams when they could love Brendan Benson?... No one has made happy-sad pop-rock like this since the Lemonheads." Sister paper The Guardian awards four stars: "The pop classicist sprinkles magic dust across different styles: he's as bright and breezy as Evan Dando one moment, as resplendent as Phil Spector the next, and you could pit his bubblegum choruses against 1960s classics." Uncut also gives four stars, suggesting that "Alternative To Love is impossible not to love". Hopefully this album will see Benson raising his profile in the media again, though, as other reviews were hard to come by.
Much-hyped The Bravery release their eponymously-titled debut LP today. To be honest, based on what we've heard so far of the music, we're not sure all that hype and hair-gel is justified, but what do we know? The Guardian certainly seems to think they're worth listening to, awarding four stars: "They don't sound too new, but their shuddering pop melodies and knack for smiling through gritted teeth might just make the Bravery the nation's favourite new band." If you're thinking, 'well, that single of theirs wasn't too bad so the album must be ok' then The Independent begs to differ: "An Honest Mistake is the hit that seems likely to carry the American interlopers The Bravery up among the Kaisers and Kasabians, a radio-friendly singalong anthem with a hook solid enough to land a swordfish. But anyone investing in their debut album on the strength of that track may find themselves somewhat underwhelmed." A slender two stars awarded. As it turns out though, The Times sides with The Guardian on this one in awarding four stars: "What is most striking is that they possess that most alluring but elusive of qualities; a golden touch for memorable hooks and contagious melodies."
Last week talk was of a Britpop revival in the form of The Kaiser Chiefs. A band who were around from 90s vintage of Britpop, Stereophonics, also release an album today. The single Dakota took many by surprise, by not being utter crap, but the album Language. Sex. Violence. Other? seems to live down to normal expectations. Drowned In Sound give the album a derisory 1½ out of 5. "Sure, there are radio-friendly, stadium rock moments aplenty. Yet, the chugging, plodding guitar riffs remain, new drummer Javier Weyler adds little value, and Jones is still straining away like Liam Gallagher having a dump. All this anchors 'Language...' firmly in the now familiar 'Phonics crowd pleasing pub rock territory." The Independent agrees in its assessment, although ups the rating a notch to two. "The general musical tone (not to mention the perfunctory lyrics...) is much more meat-and-spuds than before, and fails to hold one's attention much beyond the halfway point." The Guardian's a bit nicer, and again the rating goes up a notch, this time to three stars. The first few paragraphs of the review completely assassinate the band in a highly entertaining way (for example, "There is, after all, something oddly comforting about the Stereophonics' dependable awfulness.") so you wonder how on earth the album gets such a high rating until the review goes on to say that the album "demonstrates a hitherto-unnoticed lightness of touch".
Moby's been working the promotional trail very hard these past couple of weeks, and notable in his appearances has been the use of 'proper' instruments, a trait that follows the recording of his album. He's not convinced The Guardian, though. Awarding just two stars, it says "Hotel is aptly titled: it's ultimately a clinical, generic experience". (The Guardian's obviously had to put up with staying in the large chain hotels, rather than splashing out on the nicer boutique ones.) Rolling Stone is lukewarm in its appraisal (three stars), saying "This talented softy has found a sensible way to come down from a multiplatinum high" which kind of suggests they think the album's not going to sell very well. The Independent is similarly underwhelmed, awarding three stars too. They reckon that "the main shortcoming of Hotel... is his own seeming lack of emotion."
And, concluding this bumper edition, is Daft Punk's Human After All. The Guardian dislikes it, awarding two stars ("Human After All simply recycles a handful of familiar production tics - vocoders, processed rock guitars, snub-nosed beats - to the point of inanity."); The Independent despises it, giving one star ("The formula is creaking badly by now"), and reading the review, you wonder how even one star was given; and the BBC calls it "a crushing disappointment". Oh dear.
Maybe you're better off celebrating the memory of Daft Punk in their glory days by getting hold of LCD Soundsystem's insanely-catchy Daft Punk Is Playing At My House.