Best New Albums of 2013, Round 4

pet shop boysPet Shop Boys, Electric. There’s just something so very comforting about the music of The Pet Shop Boys and, in particular, Neil Tennant’s voice. It’s like a brandy in front of a fireplace on a snowy day. There’s just something so very nostalgic about it. Don’t ask me to explain it scientifically, or even rationally, because I can’t. To me, the voice of Tennant and the music of the Pet Shop Boys is a most unique and singularly enjoyable listening experience. To Me. Thanks to the largely terrific 2013 new album, Electric, I think I can safely say their stock is on the rise once more. It sounds modern and vital. After last year’s so very “meh” effort Elysium I thought they’d bit the biscuit. Thankfully that was not the case.

prefab sproutPrefab Sprout, Crimson/Red. Prefab Sprout or, more honestly now, songwriter Paddy McAloon, has suffered from Ménierè’s disease which is a condition of the inner ear which can cause “tinnitus, vertigo, loss of balance and deafness.” Tough break for a songwriter, but especially tough for a songwriter who so obviously loves what he does. Well, apparently he’s got it under control because Crimson/Red is the best thing he’s done since (insert your own Prefab high water mark HERE________). It sounds better than you’d expect it would and if I didn’t know better I’d say that Paddy’s old buddy Thomas Dolby was once again roped in to man the boards. It’s lush and catchy as hell, perfect little pop moments that would put modern day 80’s bandits such as M83 to shame.

jagwar maJagwar Ma, Howlin’:  Some titles of reviews from Amzon.com: “Pills, Thrills and Morning Glory”; Stone Roses For The Modern Age”; “Pills, Thrills and No Bellyaches”. Let’s just get this out of the way, now. Yes, they sound…baggy. Yes, the singer sounds a little like Ian Brown. As someone who lived through that era and remains a great fan I have to say that while there are echoes of Madchester et all, Howlin’ does have its own spirit, and vibe, overall. Taking this album on its own merits, I have to say it’s fun, unique, funky. As for a modern comparison, I’d say Jagwar Ma is more in the Django Django/Tame Impala family overall. It could also be the 2013 version of Kula Shaker, but let’s stay positive!

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