Month: November 2017

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    Nocturnal by The Midnight

    The Midnight are a two-piece synthwave band consisting of songwriter Tyler Lyle and producer Tim McEwan. They are from the American deep south and Denmark respectively. However, they now both live in Los Angeles and make some of the coolest music of the past few years.

    They are well respected, often revered, within the Synthwave community. Their music is awash with eighties retro sensibilities and an innate ability to bring back the parts of that era we often see through rose-tinted glasses.

    Nocturnal by The Midnight

    Nocturnal is the third full album release by The Midnight and is as strong an album as I have come to expect from them.

    We open the album with footsteps on a rainy Los Angeles street. The sirens in the background and the initial synth pads that swoon in gave me similar feels to Sarah Connor before ducking into the Tech Noir. I wasn’t to know just how close to the Terminator we were going to come with this album – more on this in a moment. This first song, ‘Shadows’, is a steady beat and synth driven tune that soon showcases singer Tyler Lyle’s awesome, almost vulnerable feeling, vocals. And you best believe there is a little bit of Saxophone sprinkled in there too. This song brings you straight into the era they are shooting for with style.

    It was great to hear Nikki Flores’ return after her previous collaboration with The Midnight on the previous album’s hit ‘Jason’. This time she takes the microphone for ‘Light Years’, her voice pairing perfectly with Tyler’s. Meanwhile on ‘River of Darkness’, we are treating to a different kind of collaboration. Fellow Synthwave artist Timecop1983 helps out in the production of ‘River of Darkness’, creating a stunning mid section to the album.

    Inspired by the greatest

    ‘Crystalline’ is most definitely one of the stand-out songs for me on this album. It was also the first single to be shown off from Nocturnal. The vocals continue with their dreamlike delivery as we are led into what can only be described as a head nod towards Phil Collins. The drum fill that thrusts us into the wailing Saxophone solo, sounds wonderfully inspired by those infamous beats from ‘In The Air Tonight’.

    The title track on this album feels like a love letter to Brad Fiedel – the composer from the Terminator. The song begins so close to one of the most iconic film themes ever written. The iconic theme I speak of is the main theme from the Terminator. Again, as with the Phil Collins flavours on Crystalline, these Terminator-esque beats are merely a jumping off point. The song soon blossoms into its own deep synth bass/beat driven beast. Noctural also featured synthesizer sounds that sounded identical to ones used in the film.

    These inspirations seem to come from a place of deep love and respect for the era and the artists. As opposed to simply being a popular retro vehicle for them to write on. It’s the delicate touches throughout this album that put it in the upper circle.


    Even though Synthwave is one of my favourite musical genres, I don’t tend to write about it that often. This is only due to the fact that I think I’d end up repeating myself with most albums and artists. Most I’ve heard have been great, but there are those special few that warrant the time it takes. FM-84 are one such band, The Midnight are another.

    Not once was I awoken from their retro spell during this album. When listening, you will be transported to an idealistic moment of the eighties – if you allow yourself. A moment pieced together from your own memories of films and tv shows of the time. Those memories then bound together with the beautiful music from Nocturnal by The Midnight.

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    Growing Pains (Hammer House of Horror episode 4)

    We open the episode to see a small boy looking around a laboratory at the different coloured powders on the shelf. He then proceeds to eat one of the powders, which immediately sends him into a trance-like fit before dying on the grass outside. His parents run out after hearing breaking glass only to find their son, William, dead in the garden.

    Matthew Blakstad as James
    Matthew Blakstad as James

    After the tragic opening we move to some time in the near future, the length of which is never revealed. The mother is picking up her newly-adopted son, a very polite – and slightly odd – young boy. After a near-fatal accident on the way home, the boy starts to become integrated into the family.

    However, something just doesn’t sit right with the parents Terence and Laurie – something about their new son just isn’t right. After an increasing number of strange, and graphically horrific, occurrences happen around the home and the father’s lab, the story ends on a darkly melancholic note.

    Put the bunny back in the box

    I find that any horror that is being told is almost always amplified when children are involved. Whether that involves the child as being either the victim or the perpetrator. Take the rabbit killing scene for example: if an adult breaks the neck of a rabbit on screen, yes it is horrible. However, put that action into the hands of a small child, whether possessed or not, and the violence takes on a whole new angle.

    Hammer House of Horror was going places and trying things that other shows at the time just weren’t doing. At least that’s what I believe based on my limited research. We can see parallels with modern anthology series like Black Mirror and Inside No 9, which themselves are doing things others just aren’t. Both of these no doubt took some of their cues from this TV series.

    Gary Bond as Terence Morton
    Gary Bond as Terence Morton

    Although this episode was a bit of a slow burn for me, there was still enough to enjoy it as a whole. I thought the child actor at the time, Matthew Blakstad who played adopted son James, was suitable creepy. But from all of the reviews / critiques I’ve read of this episode, all mention him as being an evil boy. Although that was the impression I had from the start, I didn’t feel that by the end. Instead, I believe him to be a sheltered boy who unwittingly becomes possessed by the late Willam.


    This episode is definitely the weakest of the first three i have watched so far. Although it did have a few redeeming qualities for me. You wouldn’t be missing too much if you bypassed this episode. But, for any of you fans of the Hammer House of Horror series, you should find enough interest to warrant 50 minutes of your time.

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    Fortnite Battle Royale review

    What is a “Battle Royale” game?

    Battle Royale refers to a particular style of game where every player is trying to kill all other players. It is a last person standing all-out war. Typically, all players will land on different places across a large island and hurry to find weapons and survive longer than all other players.

    Battle Royale style games have become popular recently with H1Z1 and more recently Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. And now we have Fortnite Battle Royale, which has enough of its own unique selling points to warrant it being accepted amongst the others.

    What makes Fortnite Battle Royale stand out amongst similar games?

    Firstly, pretty much the whole of the map is destructible, except for the ground you walk on. You start each game with a huge pickaxe, with which you are able to break things down to their base parts. For example, buildings and trees can be chopped away into blocks of wood, walls can be smashed into bricks, and storage containers can be broken into metal. But what to do with these materials? Well, that leads me on to my next unique point.

    Anywhere across the island, you are able to use any building materials you gather to build your own structures. These structures can give you an edge in a firefight, shielding you from enemy fire. They can also help you get up to higher places, such as building lofts, where higher grade weapons could be hiding.

    A welcome difference for me with this game was its ease of learning. All weapons that are scattered across the map are standalone, meaning you don’t need to faff around finding addons. The weapons increase in power as their colours go from weakest to strongest: Gray, Green, Blue, Purple and Orange. So if you spot a weapon that is a higher grade color to your own, grab it! Also there is no scavenging for different tiers of armour – you can find armour potions that will give extra protection once drank, but that’s about it.

    Fortnite looks beautiful

    Fortnite is such an attractive game to watch. It’s bubbly, colourful characters and surroundings act as a gorgeous veneer to hide what is still a brutal and intense game. When I first saw its visual style I couldn’t help but think that Disney had made a game.

    All of the locations are gorgeous to walk around and explore too. The areas aren’t too big or too small, they feel just right with a comfortable distance between them. From the dark and gloomy ‘Wailing Woods’ to the open space ‘Loot Lake’ in the centre of the map, each area has it’s own feel to it. My personal favourite is the ‘Lonely Lodge’ on the east coast and its nearby watch tower – a great sniping position.

    Everything down to the finer details impressed me in this game. Like even how the health points pop up on an enemy to display how much damage you’ve done. Or the animations when someone is killed and their loot bounces out of them. It’s just all so playful and fun.

    Anatomy of each game

    Once the game’s home screen is loaded up, it has been taking me an average of around thirty seconds to a minute to begin a match. Sometimes even quicker. After the few moments in the holding area while the server fills with players, you are immediately taken to the hot-air balloon powered battle bus over the island. This flying bus is everyone’s starting position as it flies over the battleground island from one side to the other. At any point whilst going over the island you are able to jump out and free-fall down to the surface.

    Once you land on the surface you must first find a weapon to defend yourself with. Weapons come in a variety of classes, which are grouped together by colour. Not only weapons, but you can also collect armour potions, traps and medikits for self-healing. But that’s about it. One of the beauties of this game, as mentioned before, is it’s simplicity. It makes the whole concept of surviving really enjoyable.

    After a few moments of landing on the ground, a white circle appears on the game map to designate the next safe zone. You then have three minutes to get within that zone as the deep purple, violent storm approaches. If you remain in the storm clouds they will quickly zap down your health and you will soon die. The deadly storm continues to push all surviving players into the same ever-decreasing safe zone until there is only one player left standing.

    In Summary

    Fortnite is a super fun and addictive game to play. Each match is pretty quick, lasting a maximum of around fifteen minutes (if you last until the final few). This was also a lot more simple for me to get up to speed with than other Battle Royale games.

    This game makes for a very enjoyable and attractive experience of survival. Fortnite Battle Royale is no less intense than similar games of its kind but in my honest opinion, its the one that is the most fun.

    Here’s some of my own recorded gameplay to give you an idea of how it looks and feels:

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    Braver than we are by Meat Loaf

    I am a huge fan of both Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman. Their music, whether separate or in collaboration, has a special place in my heart. From the Bat albums to Welcome to the Neighbourhood; from Bad Attitude to Blind before I stop. Although the Steinman-penned albums are in a league of their own, I still enjoy Meat Loaf in his own right throughout his career.

    Apparently there is a photograph somewhere of me singing along to Bat out of Hell when I was about four years old. In the photo I am seen sporting my own red hanky as seen in the music video. Rocking from an early age!

    I am ashamed to admit that it has taken me a year from its release to actually listen to ‘Braver than we are’ in full. The reason for this is because on first hearing the album’s opener, ‘Who needs the young’, it just didn’t have that unique aesthetic I was expecting. After revisiting Steinman’s only solo album, ‘Bad for Good’ recently, I also decided to give this album another try – and I’m so glad I did. I didn’t give this album the time it deserved right off the bat (no pun intended).

    I now present my thoughts on the album.

    Braver than we are

    Meat Loaf has had full collaboration with Jim Steinman on four of his thirteen albums to date. The first, and most famous was Bat out of Hell from 1977. The album ‘Deadringer’ following in 1981 and is so underrated if you ask me. Then came Bat out of Hell 2 in 1993, which is an album that got me through my years at high school.

    Now, twenty-four years later, I am discovering their fourth collaboration – the unashamedly epic ‘Braver than we are’. As soon as I heard the news that Steinman and Meat Loaf were working together again I got all giddy like a school boy. And although it’s taken some time for me to ‘get it’ I’m now glad that I do.

    The only thing more scary than a literal Bat out of Hell is the ongoing march of time. These two accept time’s weathering effects and embrace it completely in the music that they have created here. They made the conscious decision to not try and imitate what has come before – instead creating something new and fresh. In my opinion they have done this in spades.

    Souvenirs from the past

    Steinman is known for re-imagining and re-recording his music with different artists through the years. This album stays on par with that. However, many of the songs here I hadn’t heard before, as their roots can be traced back to his early musicals that I haven’t heard. Musicals such as The Dream Engine from 1969 and Neverland from 1977.

    Saying that however, you may well recognise many melodies and chord progressions from earlier Meat Loaf albums. ‘Original Sin’ can be heard haunting the song ‘Loving You Is a Dirty Job (But Somebody’s Gotta Do It)’.

    What I find really great about Steinman’s music is how it has stood the test of time, and has adapted through the years. As different artists have interpreted his works it has given the songs new dimensions. Hearing a well known lyric from the Bonnie Tyler song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ during ‘Skull of your Country’, made me want to throw my fists in the air with joy. Cian Coey, who accompanies Meat Loaf in this song adapted its delivery beautifully and absolutely nailed it.

    Stand out songs

    The album kicked into a more familiar gear for me with the second song: ‘Going All the Way (A Song in 6 Movements)’. This song is absolutely incredible in how it takes you to so many places in its eleven and a half minutes. It is as grand and as symphonic as I’d expected from Jim Steinman’s pen. Like the rest of the album, it gets better with each listen.

    The two featured vocalists on ‘Going All the Way’ are worth mentioning here. Ellen Foley and Karla DeVito both feature, with the voices of both soaring high and wide across the song’s huge canvas. They were both featured on the studio and live versions of the classic ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’, respectively. So it was great for them to come together for this album after so many years have passed.

    Souvenirs touches a lyric from Two out of three aint bad and a musical progression from ‘Left in the Dark’. It’s little touches like these that made the album feel like home on the first listen. And if I wasn’t in love with this album before the song ‘More’, then I definitely was afterwards. This song brought with it an almost John Carpenter accompaniment along with its deep chugging guitar work.

    Braver than we are closes on the gloriously upbeat, rock n roll belter, ‘Train of Love’. Closing the album in true Steinman style: an anthem to those moments when you feel like you’re on the head of a match that’s burning.


    Any fans of the grandiose lyrics and arrangements of Jim Steinman will not be disappointed with this album. Anyone expecting Meat to hit the same high notes as he did in his early days, take heed – he isn’t afraid to embrace his deeper voice in this album, and neither should you.

    Meat Loaf is known for his operatic delivery and larger than life presence on his albums. But on ‘Braver than we are’ he isn’t afraid to reel it in. As he sings on ‘Who needs the Young’, his voice just isn’t what it was. And that’s okay. Even in the lower end of the spectrum he delivers with the same authority that I always remember him having.

    The more I listen to this album, the more it feels like a goodbye from both Steinman and Meat Loaf. The usage of so many themes from earlier material made this album feel like a closing overture to their collaboration. Kind of like how ‘overture’ from The Who’s Tommy touched on that album’s later themes and riffs. ‘Braver than we are’ did this for me but on a grander, career-spanning scale. All of this in the waning era of some of the most powerful, passionate music I have ever had the good fortune to experience.

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    The Thirteenth Reunion (Hammer House of Horror episode 2)

    Leading on from the series’ opener, Witching Time, is the second episode of the eighties British anthology series Hammer House of Horror. The Thirteenth Reunion is a step away from the supernatural – perhaps consciously so in order to display the show’s diversity.

    What’s The Thirteenth Reunion about?

    Ruth is a newspaper reporter who has been stuck reporting on the mundane for too long. As part of her job, she is sent to a nearby health retreat called “Think Thin”. The owner has some questionable encouragement methods and she is sent to get the story.

    During her first day she meets Ben, a well to do banker who dies that evening. His death occurs soon after taking a slimming pill that was given to him by the clinic. Although she is initially shocked at the news of his death, Ruth wastes no time in turning the suspected foul-play to her advantage. The advantage being the possibility of breaking a potentially big news story on her own.

    Ruth and Ben have drinks in The Thirteenth Reunion
    Ruth and Ben have drinks in The Thirteenth Reunion.

    She is approached at Ben’s funeral by the director, who suspects his bosses of being up to something shady with some of the bodies – Ben’s included. She takes this opportunity to team up with the funeral director to investigate his bosses’ strange goings on. These events set Ruth on her passage of exploration that ultimately lead her to an unforgettable twist ending that will leave you open-mouthed long after the credits roll.

    The horror is not knowing

    There is no way to talk about the closing ten minutes of this episode without ruining it for you. What I will say is that you wont see it coming, not the full story at least.

    All the way through this episode we are kept in the dark almost as much as Ruth is. We do get to see some of the interactions between shady characters that she doesn’t, but never enough to give the game away.

    The Thirteenth Reunion is an episode that plays its cards very close to its chest. The majority of the episode is pretty standard investigative journalist stuff and it isn’t until the final few minutes that the real horror begins. And the majority of that horror is not in what it chooses to show you, but in what it chooses not to.

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    Bad for Good by Jim Steinman

    Bad for Good by Jim Steinman is one of my all time favourite albums. Less is known about his only solo album than his collaborations with Meat Loaf.

    It’s a crime that more people aren’t aware of this album. I absolutely adore every song on here and if I had to choose some desert island discs, this would be on there. Other artists, who have worked with Steinman, have been able to do versions of some of these songs. But for me nothing comes close to this grand, hugely personal collection.

    Bad for Good by Jim Steinman

    Bad for Good, the eponymous opening song, kicks the album off with pure fire. It encapsulates the things that Jim is so great at: intense, energetic musical passages; huge, expertly-woven orchestrations; lyrics that paint epic pictures of passion, power and love. His lyrics read like poetry and are delivered with great conviction and authority. The speed change half way in, with the verse that follows it, is one of my favourite moments on the whole album. The whole song plays like its own self-contained, nine-minute opera.

    Jim Steinman’s pose for the Bad for Good back cover

    ‘Lost Boys and Golden Girls’ is a much calmer piece, which I think is needed after that opener. Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell 2 album used another version of this song in 1993. However, Jim’s version feels much more personal and stripped back to me. I love both versions but something about Jim’s rendition just pips Meat Loaf’s to the post.

    ‘Love And Death And An American Guitar’ is another track that was reused on Bat Out of Hell 2. Again, as with the previous song, this version is a lot more stripped back – with nice synth fills used to dramatic effect. It’s actually a spoken word piece that acts as an intro to the song that follows, ‘Stark Raving Love’.

    ‘Stark Raving Love’ and ‘Out of the Frying Pan (And into the Fire)’ both keep the energy riding high. As does a later song called ‘Dance in my pants’, a fun duet with Karla DeVito in a similar vein to Meat Loaf’s song ‘Dead Ringer For Love’ (also written by steinman).

    Big energy and wide diversity

    Jim Steinman’s music has such energy and diversity to it and Bad For Good is the best possible showcase for those qualities. These songs never fit into a simple groove and just plod along. They are either melting your face off from fifteen different directions or are ripping your heart strings out with their gorgeous melodies and melancholic lyrics.

    ‘Surf’s up’ and ‘Left in the Dark’, two songs that slow the pace somewhat are such beautiful ballads. The latter is a heartbreaking, often angry ballad about a man aware of his lover’s infidelity. These lyrics taken from the song say so much more than I could by describing it to you:

    But don’t tell me now, I don’t need any answers tonight
    I just need some love so turn out the lights
    And I’ll be left in the dark again

    Left in the Dark, Jim Steinman (from Bad for Good – 1981)

    The album closes with the huge-sounding orchestral instrumental, ‘The Storm’. This piece wouldn’t be out of place as an overture for a huge opera production. And it serves further show just how diverse this man’s music is. It’s moments like this that make me wish that Jim Steinman was a prolific film composer. His operatic and, quite frankly, epic visions for music would do cinema so must good.

    A gem of an album

    Bad for Good is a golden nugget of an album. It’s not very well known, even by many rock fans I’ve met, which is a shame. Whilst many may recognise his name from the front of Meat Loaf’s biggest albums, many more may not be aware of this solo album of his. I’m going to go on record and say that I believe this album is a cult classic – it demands to be listened to and appreciated by all.

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    Witching Time (Hammer House of Horror episode 1)

    One evening David is composing the score for a new film when a loud but brief storm hits. When his dog, Billy, goes running off, he pursues it into the nearby horse stables. However, in the stables he doesn’t find Billy; instead he finds a mysterious woman in a black robe lying in the hay.

    Black magic woman

    Lucinda claims to be a witch from the 17th Century who managed to escape her execution by sending herself forward in time to the present day. She is played excellently by fiery red head Patricia Quinn. Lucinda is probably my favourite of the four main characters in this episode. Her portrayal of the ever-maddening witch is an entertaining watch, albeit not as scary as I would expect from this series.

    As she becomes infatuated with David, Lucinda finds new and interesting ways to get inside his mind. Using the knowledge of David’s wife’s infidelity to her advantage, Lucinda slowly twists his mind against her so she can try and have him to herself.

    Winter is coming

    I knew I recognized the actor playing David Winter by not only his face, but also his distinct delivery of his lines. It was none other than Jon Finch, who I remembered from Hitchcock’s underrated ‘Frenzy’. Finch plays David with a similar, direct intensity – even in quieter scenes – that I remembered fondly from Frenzy.

    I enjoyed seeing David’s slow descent into madness as the story escalated towards its heated conclusion.

    Lucinda Jessup frightens Mary

    What happened to Billy?

    Although this is not the strongest – or my favourite – episode of the series, it does have one of my favourite concepts for a story. The horror is downplayed considering it’s the first episode of the Hammer House of Horror. However, there are plenty of unsettling moments that should appease the hardest of Hammer Horror fans.

    Unfortunately nobody knows what happened to billy.

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    Thoughts on Rise of the Tomb Raider

    Lara Croft is one of, if not my number one, favourite computer game character of all time. So I went into this game already loving it with a pretty strong bias. That being said, I can honestly say that Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best all-round games I’ve ever played.

    What is Rise of the Tomb Raider about?

    Lara Croft, slightly more battle-hardened from her time on Yamatai, is in pursuit of a lost artefact – The Divine Source. The secret to immortality is said to be contained within the artefact. The locals believe the Divine Source to be a fragment of God’s soul. It is something that her father searched for before his death.

    As in the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, this game’s predecessor, the whole game is open for exploration. You are free to search the areas for any of the Hidden tombs that are scattered about. Interesting, and handy, character perks can be achieved when these are solved. However, that being said, some will require certain skills and/or equipment that aren’t acquired till later on in the game. You are free to explore these areas or just power through the main story and come back later.

    Trinity are a group of mercenaries who are also looking for the Divine Source. A ruthless man named Konstantin leads them and, although his methods are shady, has good reasons for wanting to find it. These Trinity soldiers are the main antagonists that you’ll find yourself fighting through as you progress through the game.

    Harsh and beautiful landscapes

    The world of Rise of the Tomb Raider is just simply stunning. Around every corner of this game I found myself impressed with every level of the world’s details. The glistening water running down the inside walls of ancient crypts; sudden downpours of rain as I quietly made my way through the bushes in enemy camps. The tombs in this game seemed to have had a lot more thought put into them too. Not only were these environments gorgeous in the dim firelight, so too were they more elaborate than the previous Tomb Raider. I found myself taking more time to figure the puzzles out, and on larger scales too.

    One of the first large areas you will come across, the Soviet Installation is as gorgeous as it is grim. It’s a large-scale Gulag from Stalin-era Russia which basically means it was a forced labour camp. The reality of what people in these camps, some only guilty of minor crimes, had to endure cannot be overstated. That being said, Rise of the Tomb Raider does an excellent job of emphasising the brutal horror of these places. I didn’t even know what a Gulag was until this game, where I then went and researched afterwards. That’s not to say that the game is depressing at all, it just presents its story on the backdrop of real history. A history that it is very faithful to.

    The game does a great job at mixing open-world game play with the more claustrophobic environments. These tighter moments really do create tension in all the right places which is always paid off in the end. While there are a couple of annoying gun fights in this game, the fighting is done with such fluidity that it does become fun after a while.

    Girl’s got skills

    As with the previous game, you will earn XP and skill points that you can then use to learn new skills. Not only that but you can also find murals and monoliths across the world, which will increase your languages proficiency. Some monoliths will require a higher language level, which will then uncover hidden treasures and tomb entrances on the map.

    The weapons too are all available to upgrade as in Tomb Raider (2013). This is done by salvaging parts from wooden crates as well as off the pelts of the mountain wildlife. You can then choose which weapons to upgrade first.

    Scaling walls is pretty much the only key ability that remains from the first game. The scaling of rock faces is so much smoother and faster here too, partly due to the fact that she now has two pick axes. Later on in the game you’ll also acquire more interesting accessories that will allow you more spiderman-like qualities.

    Lara Croft forever

    Rise of the Tomb Raider does a great job at taking what its predecessor set up and elevating it to incredible new highs. Crystal Dynamics have done an amazing job at keeping Miss Croft alive, while making her more human in the process. I’m really looking forward to the next instalment in this series, which may be called Shadow of the Tomb Raider. But only time will tell if this is to be. If it is to be, and they keep on the same trajectory, then the next game is going to be insane.

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    Masseduction by St Vincent

    Masseduction is the fifth album by alternative pop artist St Vincent – real name Annie Clark. It’s a showcase for her varied approaches to creating great music and never fails to deliver the goods.

    I had no prior experience with any of St Vincent’s music before hearing Masseduction. Within the first couple of songs, certainly by the time I heard the eponymous track, I was hooked.

    She displays a diverse range of styles that come through on this album, many of which echoed in my mind back to artists past and present.

    I couldn’t help but get Alanis Morissette vibes from the album’s second song – the energetic ‘Pills’. ‘Pills’ is super catchy and could have settled in that groove for the whole song. But, in what I’ve now come to expect from her, she switches up the tempo and style two thirds in.

    These changes, which happen in a few of her songs, are hugely effective and was really a gateway drug into St Vincent’s music for me.

    Then once the title song ‘Masseduction’ dropped… I just lost my shit.

    ‘Masseduction’ is the album’s third song, and plays like a love letter to Prince. Everything from the song’s title; to the distortion-heavy guitar licks; and through the song’s funky beat. But in no way is it a cheap knock-off. On the contrary – since Prince, and other great heroes of music, have recently passed – we are in dire need of great idiosyncratic artists to stand up for good music. St Vincent is a part of that army.

    The album continues through further belters, ‘Sugarboy’ and ‘Los Ageless’, that keep the energy up high without ever becoming tiresome. The music video for the latter enhances another aspect of St Vincent I find compelling – her visual style through the album’s artwork.

    The artwork for this album seems to further support the sound she is going for. With its glossy, vibrant colours and sharp edges, but with cryptic imagery that conceals a deeper message beneath the shiny plastic.

    The album closes its first half with the stripped back, and welcome, piano ballad ‘Happy Birthday, Johnny’. With the removal of nearly all instruments but for a piano along with her voice, we get up close and personal with her. This departure from the previously up tempo tracks serves to give an extra layer to her message. Here she is pealing back the shiny cover to expose the heart beneath. And the result with this song is a gorgeous ballad that tugs at those heart strings.

    Just when I thought I’d heard her at her most energetic, along came ‘Fear the Future’ – a frantic piece backed by the craziest beats on the album. If I’m honest, the dance music style that is informing this song isn’t a style I would choose to listen to. And while it’s not nearly my favourite song on the album, Annie still makes it work within the context of this gorgeous, neon pick and mix of an album. (I have no idea what neon pick and mix means – I just thought it sounded cool in my head).

    The album’s closing song, ‘Smoking Section’ is definitely my favourite on the whole album. It feels like one of the most personal of the collection too, with some real guts to it. The drum / low-synth fills that hit the song in two places, have such a deep guttural punch to them. These short riffs were reminiscent of something by The White Stripes to my ears. But just as soon as the one-two punches have landed, she switches the song up from melancholic to hopeful with the repeated lyric “It’s not the end”. Her voice fading into the ether as she does.

    While never faltering from her own path, St Vincent manages to dip her toes into a good variety of styles for this album. I am completely mesmerised by every song and probably will be for some time to come. A lot of pop music is much of a muchness to me nowadays but people like St Vincent keep the flag flying for introspective, thought provoking music with hidden depths.

    If you want to increase the overall quality of your music collection, then pick up Masseduction by St. Vincent now.