Shapes of Screams (Album)
Derby’s LostAlone (pictured) maybe local heroes but their rock anthems have long deserved a wider canvas. After a flirtation with a major label that might have hit the resolve of lesser bands, the three-piece came out with a blistering second album I’m a UFO in This City. Now third outing Shapes of Screams shows that the band are continuing to grow and develop under their own control. Always a tight live unit, with producer Dan Weller on board Shapes of Screams captures that spirit on CD too. Frontman Steven Battelle’s songwriting has always been one of the band’s great strengths and he delivers here his most irrepressibly catchy collection yet. Crusaders, Hostages and Requiem provide instant pop-rock joy while The Bells! The Bells! reminds us that they can really rock hard when they want too and G.U.I.L.T.Y proves the spirit of Glam is very much alive and well. The Queen-inspired vocal harmonies are better than ever on this album and deserve to be heard in the big arenas where, if there was any justice, LostAlone would be headlining rather than supporting by now.
MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE May Death Never Stop You (Album)
5/5 My Chemical Romance were always bursting with too many ideas to be constrained by their supposed Emo roots, as this anthology ably demonstrates.
While the early material has spiky attitude and punchy tunes, it’s the five tracks from The Black Parade album that most ably demonstrate their musical ambitions.
A virtual rock opera devoted to the subject of death, it was a rare example of a concept album that both worked as a whole and still produced stand out songs that survive as classic singles. Welcome to the Black Parade is MCR’s Bohemian Rhapsody moment while Cancer is a gut-wrenching ballad about facing chemotherapy.
Having killed off The Black Parade, the band re-emerged as the cartoonish Fabulous Killjoys, not to everyone’s liking, but still produced a clutch of songs that other bands could only dream of (four of which feature here).
MCR’s fracture in 2013 left us with deep regrets that we will never know where they might have gone next.
THE KAISER CHIEFS Education, Education, Education & War (Album)
Ricky Wilson’s slimmed down, toned up reinvention, as seen on The Voice, suggested that his band might also be in for a makeover to make them more palatable for the masses. But, instead, this is very much The Kaiser Chiefs of an earlier, better vintage and a clutch of songs that the fat Ricky from The Employment era would have been proud of. It’s all a distinct improvement on their last proper album, The Future Is Medieval, with their take on the contemporary world harnessed to much better tunes this time. As the title suggests, they still (thankfully) enjoy an angry rant at the state of the nation, despite Ricky’s recent allegiance to anodyne prime time TV. Ruffians on Parade and Bows and Arrows have the classic Kaiser Chiefs feel while Coming Home and Meanwhile Up in Heaven show the band’s songwriting skills developing nicely.