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This Week's Album Reviews

Pharrell Williams – GIRL

Pharrell's GIRL is a sure fire hit (Kevin Longwell)

Pharrell’s GIRL is a sure fire hit (Kevin Longwell)

Pharrell Williams has been a recognisable presence in pop music for two decades, but all-of-a-sudden, he’s a married 40-year-old in a baffling hat who dances with Meryl Streep at the Oscars.

Since last year he has been a part of no less than three UK number one singles – Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines and his own Happy.

All this makes it hard to believe his new album, GIRL, which was released on Monday, is only Pharrell’s second as a solo artist.

His usual hip-hop collaborators are nowhere to be found. Instead, GIRL features appearances from crowd-pleasers Justin Timberlake, Alicia Keys, Daft Punk and Miley Cyrus.

Happy’s contagious energy earned him an Oscar nomination, and a seemingly permanent position on mainstream radio.

Gush is among the best tracks on the album, with a feel of Michael Jackson Off The Wall.

The standout song is Lost Queen due to its simplicity. Humming, distant drums and a “vroom-vroom” noise come together to create a superb track.

Pharrell’s duet with Alicia Keys, I Know Who You Are, is the weakest of the 10 tracks and never makes good on its reggae-soul promise.

His joyful voice and great production makes for a happy atmosphere and an enjoyable feel.

But, for his all his musical ability, lyrics have never been Pharrell’s strongest suit.

On this new album, Pharrell makes the truest case for himself as a household name, not only because it’s his best work musically, but also because it’s his most accessible.

GIRL is one more successful notch in Pharrell’s belt.


A Great Big World – Is Anybody Out There?

Pop duo A Great Big World’s debut album Is There Anybody Out There? is the latest, and clumsiest, example of the unbearable nerd-pop revolution.

A Great Big World hail from New York and consist of Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino.

The 13-track album was released on Monday and the single Say Something with Christina Aguilera peaked at number four in the UK singles chart last week.

Unbearably pleasant and upbeat, it’s typical American nerdy-pop, reminiscent of some terrible offbeat Broadway musical.

In Land of Opportunity they sing “I’ve just got to believe there’s something better”. I can only second their sentiment.

The ridiculously, and possibly offensively, named song Everyone is Gay, although well intentioned, is poorly executed.

Is There Anybody Out There? would benefit from some subtlety, but none is evident here.

It’s an entirely predictable collection of songs which will have the cast of Glee singing and dancing for months to come.

Save yourselves from a mind numbing 45-minutes worth of bad Broadway ballads and go listen to some real music.


We are Scientists – TV en Français

We are Scientists's TV en Français is a solis, but predictable effort (starbright31)

We are Scientists’s TV en Français is a solid, but predictable effort (starbright31)

The fourth album by New York indie duo We Are Scientists, TV en Français, is a solid, but rather predictable effort.

Online, they post amusing photos, absurd Facebook posts and silly YouTube videos, but this exuberance doesn’t come across on their new album, which was released on Monday.

Keith Murray and Chris Cain’s vocal harmonies are still as tight as ever but musically they are in danger of stalling.

The lead single Dumb Luck is carried by a catchy riff while Sprinkles has a playful, Beach Boys-esque charm to it, but there isn’t enough here to shake things up.

Dumb Luck starts off promisingly but ends up being repetitive which leads it to being nothing more than ordinary.

Courage and Make It Easy are the best tracks, and although speedier moments feature, they miss their mark and fail to excite.

At its best, TV en Français is an enjoyable album, but unlike on previous efforts, there aren’t any instant hooks.

It’s a more a more muted outing, but in their efforts to prove they can write slower songs, they’ve somehow lost the knack for writing a fast one.

Although their new album is a decent effort, We Are Scientists might be better sticking to comedy rather than music.