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Rock - Released February 1, 2019 | EastWest U.K.

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Following an over ten-year hiatus, Britain's Busted reunited and delivered 2016's Night Driver, an album that found the former punky boy band having matured into purveyors of slick, '80s-style dance-pop. It was an effective transition, evoking the electro-groove of Daft Punk with a heavy dose of Justin Timberlake's R&B swagger. That said, it didn't really sound much like the band that first grabbed their MTV/TRL fan base in the early 2000s with songs about having a crush on your teacher, kissing an airline stewardess, or being devoted to Britney Spears. It was almost as if they wanted to ignore their slightly embarrassing, frosted-tipped-and-flat-ironed past and prove just how much they'd grown up. With 2019's Half Way There, Busted bandmates Charlie Simpson, James Bourne, and Matt Willis eschew any such claims of probity, and wholly embrace the laddish sound of their early albums with songs built on hooky, guitar-driven choruses and an overall feeling of Friday night fun. Amazingly, Half Way There (a reference to the song "Year 3000" off their eponymous 2002 debut) works as both a wry send-up of the band's roots and an earnest dip into millennial nostalgia. Many of the songs explicitly underline these sentiments, beginning with the reference-packed "Nineties," in which they sing yearningly and not without some cheek about Hypercolor shirts, dubiously rhyme "Smashing Pumpkins" with "Macaulay Culkin," and admit to having at one time prayed to someday meet Kelly Kapowski -- Tiffani Amber Thiessen's character on Saved by the Bell. It's that kind of self-aware minutiae and attention to detail (check out the song's '90s-inspired drumbeat and keyboard intro) that makes Busted's trip down memory lane so unexpectedly rewarding. Similarly, the brightly attenuated "Reunion," with its blink-182-at-Ibiza production, finds the band waxing nostalgic about high school friends, all the while subtly evoking their own return to the stage. There's even a song here that's actually called "Nostalgia," which is ostensibly about a failing relationship, but nonetheless backs up the notion that Half Way There is a self-conscious exercise in pop sentimentality. Thankfully, this concept requires no heavy lifting, and cuts like the driving "Shipwrecked in Atlantis," the heartfelt "Radio," and the '70s-power-pop-esque "Race to Mars" bring to mind exactly the carefree '90s and early-2000s vibe for which Busted are aiming. As they sing on "It Happens": "Flashback to when the guy from NME said nobody would care/And now we're back on the road/The album's almost good to go/And if you're ever feeling low/You know, you know/That it happens." © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Rock - Released February 1, 2019 | EastWest U.K.

Following an over ten-year hiatus, Britain's Busted reunited and delivered 2016's Night Driver, an album that found the former punky boy band having matured into purveyors of slick, '80s-style dance-pop. It was an effective transition, evoking the electro-groove of Daft Punk with a heavy dose of Justin Timberlake's R&B swagger. That said, it didn't really sound much like the band that first grabbed their MTV/TRL fan base in the early 2000s with songs about having a crush on your teacher, kissing an airline stewardess, or being devoted to Britney Spears. It was almost as if they wanted to ignore their slightly embarrassing, frosted-tipped-and-flat-ironed past and prove just how much they'd grown up. With 2019's Half Way There, Busted bandmates Charlie Simpson, James Bourne, and Matt Willis eschew any such claims of probity, and wholly embrace the laddish sound of their early albums with songs built on hooky, guitar-driven choruses and an overall feeling of Friday night fun. Amazingly, Half Way There (a reference to the song "Year 3000" off their eponymous 2002 debut) works as both a wry send-up of the band's roots and an earnest dip into millennial nostalgia. Many of the songs explicitly underline these sentiments, beginning with the reference-packed "Nineties," in which they sing yearningly and not without some cheek about Hypercolor shirts, dubiously rhyme "Smashing Pumpkins" with "Macaulay Culkin," and admit to having at one time prayed to someday meet Kelly Kapowski -- Tiffani Amber Thiessen's character on Saved by the Bell. It's that kind of self-aware minutiae and attention to detail (check out the song's '90s-inspired drumbeat and keyboard intro) that makes Busted's trip down memory lane so unexpectedly rewarding. Similarly, the brightly attenuated "Reunion," with its blink-182-at-Ibiza production, finds the band waxing nostalgic about high school friends, all the while subtly evoking their own return to the stage. There's even a song here that's actually called "Nostalgia," which is ostensibly about a failing relationship, but nonetheless backs up the notion that Half Way There is a self-conscious exercise in pop sentimentality. Thankfully, this concept requires no heavy lifting, and cuts like the driving "Shipwrecked in Atlantis," the heartfelt "Radio," and the '70s-power-pop-esque "Race to Mars" bring to mind exactly the carefree '90s and early-2000s vibe for which Busted are aiming. As they sing on "It Happens": "Flashback to when the guy from NME said nobody would care/And now we're back on the road/The album's almost good to go/And if you're ever feeling low/You know, you know/That it happens." © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 9, 2019 | EastWest U.K.

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Rock - Released December 14, 2018 | EastWest U.K.

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Pop - Released June 8, 2018 | EastWest U.K.

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Pop - Released June 8, 2018 | EastWest U.K.

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Pop - Released May 29, 2015 | EastWest U.K.

Mick Hucknall and Simply Red are rightly inseparable in the minds of most listeners -- he is the frontman and the star, the one constant in the band's history -- but the singer's short-lived solo career of 2008-2012 proved there was a difference between Hucknall and the group. Big Love, the album the reunited Simply Red recorded to celebrate their 30th anniversary in 2015, isn't as in thrall to the past as the vocalist's two albums of covers, nor is it as comfortable with rock as 2007's Stay. It is, as the title suggests, a record that is romantic to its very core, an album whose bones are as exquisitely smooth as its surfaces (the loungey tongue-in-cheek saloon song "The Old Man and the Beer" is the exception that proves the rule). Even when the tempo picks up a notch on Big Love -- and it doesn't happen all that often -- the speedier songs come in the form of a slow-burning disco tune, an aesthetic that isn't all that far removed from Simply Red's enduring allegiance to the smoothest sounds of the '70s, specifically Philly soul. At times, the overall veneer is a shade too clean, suggesting nothing so much as cocktail hour at a classy conference, but the fact that Hucknall and Simply Red choose to celebrate the softer, soulful sounds of the '70s by doubling down on the smoothness does separate them from the legions of neo-soul divas in the new millennium. Let those singers scale operatic towers: this lot prefers to take it easy and is charming for it. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 21, 2015 | EastWest U.K.

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Pop - Released March 23, 2015 | EastWest U.K.

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Dance - Released March 29, 2013 | EastWest U.K.

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 7, 2013 | EastWest U.K.

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Pop - Released June 14, 2012 | EastWest U.K.

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Pop - Released May 18, 2012 | EastWest U.K.

Rumer's sophomore effort, 2012's Boys Don't Cry, is a retro soft rock covers album that finds the vocalist tackling tracks by various male artists of the 1970s. As with her acclaimed 2010 debut, Seasons of My Soul, Boys Don't Cry showcases Rumer's gentle and sweetly soulful vocal style that is clearly perfectly suited to this material. In fact, for anyone already familiar with her, it almost goes without saying that Rumer sounds a lot like soft pop icon Karen Carpenter. However, rather than coming off as a copycat, Rumer always sounds like the real thing and seems like she has genuine respect and love for Carpenter and the rest of the soft singer/songwriter titans. She nailed Bread's "Goodbye Girl" on Seasons for gosh sakes, and Boys Don't Cry takes its cue from that cover and not the original material written in a retro style that made up most of Seasons. Here we get Rumer's take on such laid-back cuts as Jimmy Webb's "P.F. Sloan," Todd Rundgren's "Be Nice to Me," and Hall & Oates' "Sara Smile," among others. Adding to the '70s soft rock vibe is the lush orchestral production from Steve Brown, who was also responsible for the sound of Seasons. These are organic and rich-sounding tracks that frame Rumer's voice in sparkling piano, cinematic bits of strings, rounded horn parts, the twang of the occasional pedal steel guitar, and even a poignant harmonica line, as on Townes Van Zandt's "Flyin' Shoes." Kudos to Rumer for not just covering the most well-known cuts from the best-known '70s artists, but also including such lesser-known numbers as Clifford T. Ward's "Home Thoughts from Abroad" and Terry Reid's "Brave Awakening." © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 7, 2011 | EastWest U.K.

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International Pop - Released October 29, 2010 | EastWest U.K.

While the alternative electro of Ellie Goulding and Marina & the Diamonds dominated the early Sound of 2010 polls, it's a former commune-dwelling lounge-pop chanteuse named after prolific children's author Rumer Godden who appears to have stolen their thunder on nearly every annual best albums countdown. Since the Radio 2 playlisting of her debut single, "Slow," 31-year-old Anglo-Pakistani Rumer has quietly crept up on her more NME-friendly counterparts thanks to her authentic '60s chilled-out sound, which has been publicly championed by everyone from musical hero Burt Bacharach, who personally invited her to sing for him at his California home, to former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who wrote a glowing review of her in The Guardian after seeing her perform on the prestigious Jools Holland show. Inspired by the 1930 standards of Rodgers & Hammerstein, the gospel soul of Laura Nyro, and the easy listening pop of Dusty Springfield, Seasons of My Soul is an astoundingly self-assured first offering that is a million miles away from the indie folk of her short-lived early-noughties outfit La Honda. Of course, there's no escaping the fact that Rumer's effortlessly smooth and warm tones bear an uncanny resemblance to Karen Carpenter, particularly on the multi-layered harmonies of "Blackbird" and the melancholic ballad "On My Way Home." However, her worldly vocal delivery, combined with some highly personal lyrics and luxurious orchestral production from Steve Brown (most famous for his role as the bandleader in Steve Coogan's chat-show spoof Knowing Me, Knowing You), elevates the album above being mere tribute act fodder. Although the tempo never strays beyond a walking pace, Seasons of My Soul impressively manages to remain fresh and intriguing throughout its 11 tracks. "Aretha," a tale of a young girl who escapes her tough domestic life by listening to the soul legend, is set against a backdrop of smoldering acoustics and simple blues melodies; the sensual brass-led "Come to Me High" offers a more provocative antidote to the album's prevalent wistful nature; and the harmonica and twanging guitar solos on closing track "Goodbye Girl" provide a convincing countrified reworking of the David Gates '70s classic. An immediately engaging debut, Seasons of My Soul has the potential to repeat the crossover success of Norah Jones' Come Away with Me and Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, its unquestionable authenticity signaling the arrival of an equally timeless and unaffected voice. © Jon O'Brien /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 16, 2010 | EastWest U.K.

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Pop - Released August 25, 2008 | EastWest U.K.

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Rock - Released January 1, 2008 | EastWest U.K.

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Rock - Released August 15, 2008 | EastWest U.K.

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 14, 2008 | EastWest U.K.