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Half Way There

Busted

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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Radio

Busted

Rock - Released January 9, 2019 | EastWest U.K.

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Reunion

Busted

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

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Joy Ride

Dusky Grey

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

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Joy Ride

Dusky Grey

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

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The Ghost of Love

Simply Red

Pop - Released July 10, 2015 | EastWest U.K.

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The Ghost of Love

Simply Red

Pop - Released July 10, 2015 | EastWest U.K.

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Big Love

Simply Red

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

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Big Love

Simply Red

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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Shine On

Simply Red

Pop - Released April 21, 2015 | EastWest U.K.

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Tattoo

Hunter Hayes

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

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Mozart's House

Clean Bandit

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

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The Woodpile

Frightened Rabbit

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

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Seasons of My Soul

Rumer

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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Rome Wasn't Built in a Day

Morcheeba

Pop - Released July 3, 2000 | EastWest U.K.

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Youth

Kissy Sell Out

Dance - Released June 16, 2009 | EastWest U.K.

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Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers Do

Goldie Lookin Chain

Pop - Released June 28, 2004 | EastWest U.K.

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Man Like I

Natty

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

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Wearing My Rolex

Wiley

Dance - Released April 18, 2008 | EastWest U.K.

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Find The Time

Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

Alternative & Indie - Released February 18, 2008 | EastWest U.K.