Arcade Fire - The Suburbs ****
After their previous two albums were received with critical acclaim, Arcade Fire return with a successful follow-up. However, it's not a natural follow-up to their back catalogue. Gone is the band's urgency - previously highlighted on Neon Bible's No Cars Go. The lush comprehensive strings and experimental sounds from debut album Funeral are limited to just a couple of the 16 tracks. The Suburbs focuses on simple melodies with strong vocals. Together this provides an album of good quality pop music. It seems the band are comfortable enough with their musical ability to focus on sturdy tunes such as Rococo and Sprawl II.
Travie McCoy - Lazarus ***
THE Gym Class Heroes frontman's debut solo album is full of summer pop, hip-hop tunes. This 10-track release is not intended to change the world and 'depth' isn't a word you would use to describe it but it's a nice enough listen. Opening with Dr. Feelgood, which features Gnarls Barkley's Cee Lo Green, it's a light-hearted romp which brings up images of cruising in a convertible in California. This sets the mood for the rest of the album, even the heart-felt tunes Need You and Akidagain still feel like they have the sun on them. It at least provides a welcome distraction from reality.
Caitlim Rose - Own Side Now *****
WITH just an EP to her name, Caitlin Rose has already developed somewhat of a following. Her new album is not countryfolk, country-pop or even country tinged with rock. This is just plain, old country. The success could, of course, be due to the singer's ability to emit such emotion in her vocals. Even though her singing style is mild-mannered, she still manages to convey more passion then any of the current warbling R&B divas.
Wavves - King of the Beach ****
The album finally marks a coming of age for the unpredictable Nathan Williams. Modest Mouse producer Dennis Herring and Williams's new back-up band keep his freewheeling fuzz-guitar workouts on the rails - but, crucially, only just. The 60s melodies are bolder and more prominent this time than on previous material, but the real appeal is in Williams's ragged energy, something that is thankfully never reined in too carefully.