Of course you can't buy it until May 16th but you can buy the new British Sea Power album:
So first off the starting blocks is British Sea Power: last seen on a fully camouflaged stage complete with large sections of the New Forset and dressed up as soldiers. However the critics are generally of the opinion that although these Brighton boys may be growing up musically they don't as yet seem ready to put their quirks to rest.
The Independent give Open Season 5 stars for it's grand pop swagger (and) quirky imagery combined with ringing, anthemic choruses summing it up as: a splendid, individual achievement, fully the equal of more high-profile recent offerings from BSP's peers
Gigwise also celebrate the bands charmingly English eccentricities with a 4 star review describing the album as
...soaring melodic guitar hooks reminiscent of The Cure or early Spiritualised, the roots under delicate lyrics with diverse subject matter. It’s a brave move which goes against most of the current garage rock or indie-electro sounds in music at the moment, but then British Sea Power are hardly the band to be bothered about setting the trend, they recently played their version of a ‘guerilla gig’ in a field in Tunbridge Wells.
So it's up to the Observer to disagree. Although they don't have a rating we'd guesss it would be a 2 star review as they are at heart, a very ordinary indie band whose anaemic guitars, polite melodies and underachieving vocals don't do their subject matter justice. You can try before you buy on the XFM listening post.
The Observer are much happier with the ongoing legacy of the Wainwright clan and the debut from one of the most arresting new voices to emerge for some time. CD of the week then for that rare thing, a female singer-songwriter with a gutsy voice and a great deal to say.
So maybe it's good to be a Wainright, even if you do write songs about your father called Bloody Motherfucking Asshole. For then the grandfather of the sensible papers: The Times will give you 4 stars for being: another singer-songwriter of such strength and charm that it’s tempting to believe in genetic predetermination Well that's what you get when: operatic pretensions are absent, and the folk music that defines her bloodline is pushed to the fore
And finally The Guardian round off the appraisals with a cheeery 4 stars for songs that are: tough and earthy, hating mere prettiness when fieriness or forcefulness are required
It looks as if Tom Vek is at least for the near future going to be labelled as a British Beck, although he's not been given quite as easy a ride. Drowned In Sound award 3 stars for the: highly stylised pop gems but We Have Sound is an album that still offers only glimpses of potential rather than bona fide finished articles. Gigwise agree adding only half a star as its experimentation smacks of an artist trying to find his way, trying everything on the menu till he works out what’s best for him. And finally a probable 2.5 stars from The Observer, who still haven't got over the Martha Wainright album: Vek's weary lyrics stuck on top of oddball neo-Eighties hydraulics and aluminium melodies - wears thin by the end.
And finally it's worth noting that young Lindsay Lohan's Speak get's a reasonable write up from The Observer who manage to get beyond her well documented chest to note that the album is littered with guitars and that particular kind of feistiness that biddable young actresses like to affect and that: she can sing, though, in a usefully plastic sort of way. On the other side of the acting pond Natalie Imbruglia gets 3 stars from The Guardian for Counting Down The Days: Revisiting the mid-tempo rhythms of her last album, White Lilies Island, Imbruglia turns from muse to troubled girl next door, gushing about love and fretting about voices in her head, while acoustic guitars, flutes and strings whip a radio-friendly pop froth around her.
There, now you know what to get your difficult teenage nieces for their next birthdays.