Sugardaddy, Jarvis Cocker, Gwen Stefani

It’s Good To Get High With Wife
Tune Tribe
Tom Findlay, half of pop dance outfit Groove Armada, has produced an eclectic and consistently interesting record with his Sugardaddy project. The album plays like a (very well executed) music geek’s tribute to all his influences: Peter Hook’s basslines on ‘Keep it Coming’, Miss Kittin-ish italodisco vocals on ‘Hate Love Passion’, George Clinton-esque funk jams on ‘Treat Me like a Dog’. There’s even a couple of convincing soul numbers. Accomplished.

Jarvis Cocker
The Jarvis Cocker Record
Rough Trade
Here we have a self-styled indie rock legend able to write clever songs without really trying, not really trying. Occasionally the album is innovative, like the way ‘Black Magic’ is constructed around a sample from ‘Crimson and Clover’. Too often, though, Cocker comes off as glib (‘From Auschwitz to Ipswich’) or unimaginative, when he means to be poignant or profound. The best song is actually the hidden track, which is more amusing, and more passionate, than anything that precedes it.

New Pacific Music Ensemble
Pacific Echoes
While NPME’s name might smack of well-meaning New Age schmaltz, this is a great CD. The performances are based around seventies Miles Davis-styled fusion jams, with traditional Pacific instruments (especially Cook Island drums) and, occasionally, vocals added to the mix. The album is successful because it goes way beyond ethno-musicological window dressing: the two source musics integrate really well. A real grower and well worth the investment.

Gwen Stefani
The Sweet Escape
Single and album opener ‘Wind It Up’ is just a dud Neptunes tune. The stripped back percussion, yodelling, and Beatlesy string section add up to Hooked On Classics meets Sound of Music – questionable to say the least. In fact, Stefani is at her weakest here on the various Neptunes productions (‘Orange County Girl’ and Pharrell guest spot ‘Yummy’). Never particularly convincing as a hiphop artist, she sounds stuck in Fergie ‘cooing bimbo’ mode, devoid of the sass that made ‘Hey Baby’ a great single. Much stronger is the Madonna-esque dance pop material to which Stefani’s voice is better suited, like the title track and the moody ‘Early Winter’, produced by Nellee Hooper (Massive Attack). Good stocking filler, but will the kids still want to play with it after Boxing Day?


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