Suzanne Vega, 8 Foot Sativa, Travis

Suzanne Vega
Beauty & Crime
Bluenote/EMI
4/5
Vega assembles a impressive line-up of collaborators on her new LP, including KT Dunstall, and members of Patti Smith’s band and Sonic Youth. The songs – slice of life portraits set against the backdrop of New York City – are excellent, and the players back up her delicate folky falsetto perfectly, with a fine balance of gloss and grit.

8 Foot Sativa
Poison of Ages
8 Foot Sativa
4/5
Recorded in Sweden, 8 Foot Sativa’s sophomore effort has a super-heavy, super-smooth sound and impressive rhythmic and harmonic complexity – as well as all the chunky riffing, machine-gun kick drums, and wailing axe solos you could hope for. Helpfully, there’s a lyric sheet to help novice listeners interpret the fragmented lyrics (e.g. ‘Immeasurable misery/Devoured sentience’). Bogan haiku?

Travis
The Boy With No Name
Sony/BMG
4/5
Britpop veterans Travis remain derivative but immaculate on their new album. You can’t deny the quality of the songwriting, performances, and production here. ‘Selfish Jean’ effectively recycles the drums from ‘Lust for Life’, while sounding a bit like Phoenix Foundation. The softer numbers like ‘Big Chair’ and single ‘Closer’ are soppy-but-beautiful U2/Coldplay type things.

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