Although his 2015’s debut was pretty good, it was last year’s Prima Donna EP that got me excited. Musically Big Fish Theory is more electronic than the debut. It has a dirty club vibe but lyrically he’s not wasting his time trying to get us ready for the dancefloor. He’s philosophical in his views and thematically he’s in the same world as Kendrick - the album’s title is to do with how fish only grow to the size of the tank they’re in, and uses it as a metaphor for being black in the US. Above all, it does what good hip hop does - it hooks you with the beats, and then keeps you there for the words.
Good old reliable BSP. Their sounds doesn’t really change, but the quality of their songwriting does. This is their best since Do You Like Rock Music?. They may reside in Brighton but it’s their Cumbrian roots that really give them away. They sound like they grew up in the middle of nowhere in a scene that consisted of just them and their records. If you like your songs to soar without sounding emptily bombastic and your lyrics to be utterly afraid of literary pretension while still sounding warm and accessible, then they’ve have still got it.
I like The Knife, but I found this second album by their vocalist Karin Dreijer more to my taste. Like all the booming and boorish bloke voices at a party suddenly shutting the fuck up so you can hear people with something new to say. Here her voice is front and centre. The industrial, electronic backing sounds like some of her past moments but is more hooky. And I like hooks.
Brooklyn rapper Leikeli47 finally released her debut after this year. I don’t know much about her - she wears a ski mask, doesn’t really do interviews and has been releasing brilliant EPs and singles over the last five years. The album maybe lacks the immediacy of the songs that made me fall for her (pop over to Spotify and check out Girl Gang or Heard ‘Em Say to see what I mean) and perhaps that’s why this didn’t blow up as much as I expected. Never mind, there’s still time for that - lyrically she just gets better and she still doesn’t sound like anyone else.
On the hand, you can make comparisons with Droog. Yeah his flow sounds a bit like Nas, he indulges in psychedelia in a way that reminds me of a less esoteric Das Racist but there’s a singularity to his sound. He still hasn’t made the album he’s capable of, but Packs is still great. Surprised I haven’t heard any guest verses by him yet.
Okay, so it’s more of the same California dusk Mac vibes from shower-drain botherers Haim so it didn’t get the attention of the debut and didn’t have that “oh, I didn’t think I liked this sort of thing but damn it, I’m in” impact but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a pretty good album - a catchy, consistent summer breeze of an album. Getting PTA to shoot you in the studio is just showboating though, surely?
When I was 7(?) I had a school friend called Oliver who lived up the road. I’d visit Oliver all the time. Oliver had a matchbox windback Knight Rider car. It was brilliant. But Oliver didn’t just have one. He had two. A nice shiny one and a more battered one. In one of my rare forays into criminality I stole one of them.
Scotland’s premier Tim Burton and Alex Higgins look-a-likes the Reid brothers return for their 1st album in 19 years (could have waited a year and make it sound a bit more eventy, boys). They sound… well not especially unlike they used to. But that’s fine cos the songs are here.