Slow Club, Complete Surrender (Caroline International)
Yes, it’s another British musical act channeling classic American R&B sounds, and yes, Slow Club’s Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor are pulling it off effortlessly. However, on Complete Surrender, this Sheffield, England-based duo blends Motown soul, dramatic indie pop and even confessional country sounds, and somehow it all just works. Opening track “Tears of Joy” grooves like 1960s soul interpreted through a late-1980s Prince filter; “Everything Is New” contrasts its reverb-drenched minimalism with a giant, shimmering, singalong chorus; and the title track appropriates a lusher Kate Bush sound. It’s a surprising—and welcome—turn from a group who previously traded in twee indie pop.
Flashlights, Bummer Summer (Hard Rock Records)
On their debut album, Orlando, Florida’s Flashlights come out of the gate strong with “Failure,” which is a bit post-hardcore, a bit post-rock and all crunchy drama, topped by the yearning vocals of Terry Caudill. The rest of Bummer Summer trades in quiet-to-loud dynamics, wall-of-sound guitars and generally upbeat rhythms. Although it all tends to blend together a bit, there are definitely highlights, including the quiet-but-powerful “April 24th,” the down-tempo slow-burner “All Cats Are Beautiful” and “Sometimes It’s Hard to Speak,” which caps off with delightful, layered vocal harmonies sung in the round over a clap-along shuffle beat. ★★★✩✩
Seether, Isolate and Medicate (The Bicycle Music Company)
South African hard-rock trio Seether is back for a sixth round, and although lead single “Words as Weapons” offers a subtle, multi-textural approach that contrasts with the band’s trademark grunge-metal sound, the rest of Isolate and Medicate doesn’t stray far from the sound Seether’s traded in since the early 2000s. The angsty howl of singer Shaun Morgan still grates over dirge-y anthems with cheery titles such as “See You at the Bottom,” “My Disaster” and “Suffer It All.” Mid-tempo number “Crash” breaks from the formula, but is weighed down by typically obtuse lyrics such as You speak softly and carry a big gun. ★★✩✩✩
Upcoming albums on Pj’s radar …
AUG. 3: The boy band reunion craze has spread to even reality-TV-manufactured group O-Town, back after a decade with a new album, Lines & Circles.
AUG. 5: Spoon releases They Want My Soul, its long-anticipated follow-up to 2010’s Transference.
AUG. 12: Sinéad O’Connor is banning bossy on her latest effort, entitled I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss.
AUG. 19: New Jersey roots-punk band The Gaslight Anthem drops its latest album Get Hurt.