While actual album release dates are even less relevant now that nobody has any money to spend on CDs, it's a good excuse to check out some new music. "New" is a relative term, though, when you're dealing with 30-plus-year-old combo The Cure, whose 13th studio album, 4.13 Dream, sounds kind of old. Nothing against old Cure, of course, and there are a few moments on the album that echo the dreamy landscape of Disintegration, for instance, like 6-minute album opener "Underneath the Stars," and jaunty single "The Only One." But as the UK Sunday Times put it, there are too many moments here that are "wearyingly over the top, and scary, too." Just in time for Halloween!
Atlanta's Deerhunter are only a few years into their noise-rock career, but their new album Microcastle has the assured edginess of Sonic Youth. Single "Nothing Ever Happened" plays with fire: a vocal harmony in the chorus whose notes are only one step apart. It could be grating, but instead it's hypnotic. Pitchfork gives it one of its best reviews of the year, with a 9.2 out of 10 score on the Forkometer and comparisons to Radiohead and My Bloody Valentine. They even say the album may be "a reason not to slit our throats before President Palin decides to nuke the world in 2017." Erp.
Snow Patrol may not like me much, but I've always kinda liked them; putting aside the annoying "Chasing Cars," the band makes driving powerpop that seems to owe a lot to the underappreciated Folk Implosion. I heard "Take Back the City" from their new album A Hundred Million Songs on the radio, and it seemed okay, nice harmonies in the chorus and a cute nod to classic rock in the verses. But a quick listen to the rest of the album reveals ballad after terrible, treacly ballad. NME gives the album 4/10 and says the band are "wolfing down Coldplay's leftovers like it's their last supper." Ouch.
Happier news for Brits may be the new Kaiser Chiefs album, Off With Their Heads, the Leeds five-piece's third album. While the Chiefs make fun, anthemic poppish punk that wouldn't be out of place in your local pub, they're also cognizant enough of music history to get a Mercury Prize nomination, which they did for their debut. Last year's single "Ruby" signaled a more thoughtful, melodic turn for the band, but they head right back to the bar for most of this album, and single "Never Miss a Beat" doesn't disappoint with silly call-and-response lyrics like "What do you want for tea?/I want crisps." Of course it turns out the hidden message is an indictment of ignorance. The band's quintessential Britishness means they will never be for Stateside listeners the mainstream, million-selling group they are in the U.K., but even Rolling Stone gives Heads 4 out of 5 stars, calling it "great British pop in the dynamic lethal-irony tradition of the mid-Sixties Kinks."