Saturday, 4 July 2015

Everything Everything - Get To Heaven

Everything Everything - Get To Heaven

With 'Get To Heaven', the band's third album, Everything Everything have delivered their most accessible record to date. If 'Arc' was a slow-burner in comparison to their punchy debut 'Man Alive', then 'Get To Heaven' is a return to form that should see the band reaching a new audience.

Pop hooks have always been at the heart of Everything Everything's sound, but they're present now more than ever. Accompanying that is a heavier emphasis on electronics that's far more exciting and thrilling than a typical guitar sound; that's a move closer to their earlier work, but here the overall effect has a lightness of touch in comparison to the darker rhythms of before. The production is polished and detailed, the sort of album where repeated listening continues to reveal small intricacies in the sound.

The result is tracks like lead single Distant Past, that pairs strikingly minimalist verses with a euphoric chorus that borrows heavily from dance music; or the playful whistling melodies of Get To Heaven and its almost tropical sound; or the infectious rhythms of Spring/Summer/Winter/Dread. Even those tracks with a more typical guitar sound, such as opener To The Blade or Regret, consist of catchy riffs and a bright, colourful tone.

That's not to say the band have abandoned their roots. Frontman Jonathan Higgs' vocals remain as idiosyncratic as ever and complex math rock rhythms still infuse their style - they've just been toned down in a move towards a wider audience.

Still, they've fallen for the same pitfalls as before. This is somewhat an album of two halves - all of the aforementioned tracks come early on - a criticism of 'Arc'. Later, the tracks become more electronic, often leaving behind the hooks for a more evocative sound. Fortune 500, for instance, is clearly geared towards Radiohead fans; No Reptiles crescendoes into a pulsing dreamscape; and closer Warm Healer is its opposite as it eventually dissolves into simmering ambience. These offer a welcome change of pace, but don't quite have the immediacy of earlier tracks.

And where the band have progressed their sound, lyrically they still languish a little - "it's alright to feel like a fat child in a pushchair" from No Reptiles is a particularly low point.

Listening to the deluxe version, though, shows the band have plenty more up their sleeve - the stomping Hapsburg Lipp, the 80s psychedelia of President Heartbeat, or the clear nod to their earlier work in Brainchild. This version of the album certainly feels too long, but proves Everything Everything are at their creative zenith. 'Get To Heaven' tones down the math rock in favour of pop melodies for an album that sounds like the most fun the band have had. Nobody likes maths anyway.

4/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Distant Past
* Spring/Summer/Winter/Dread
* No Reptiles

Listen: 'Get To Heaven' is available now.



Friday, 3 July 2015

The Tempest @ The Hope Theatre

The Tempest @ The Hope Theatre

Theatre company Thick as Thieves sure like a challenge. For their latest production, they're performing Shakespeare's grand The Tempest in the small confines of the Hope Theatre. Straight through. In an hour and a half. And with only four actors.

For the most part it works. The Tempest may be one of Shakespeare's shorter plays, but this is a particularly swift performance that does feel like it skims over some details. And although the actors work incredibly hard, lines are occasionally rushed and lack diction, whilst there are some clunky transitions between each of their three characters (particularly in the final scene).

It's clear, too, that they have a lot more fun in certain scenes. Thomas Judd (Ferdinand) and Nicky Diss (Miranda) find a surprising amount of comedy in their scenes as the young lovers, performing throughout with tongue firmly in cheek. Indeed it's comedy that this cast excel at, best represented in the subplot between drunkards Stephano (Diss) and Trinculo (Marcus Houden), and the deformed Caliban (Judd). Diss, in particular, has exceptional comic timing and plays well off Houden, whilst there are plenty of knowing nods and audience interaction that warmly draw us in.

By comparison, the scenes with the shipwrecked Neapolitans drag. Perhaps these characters are simply less interesting, less memorable, and less integral to the plot, but the characterisation is less colourful here, as if the cast have run out of steam.

Yet doubling as director, Diss relishes in the magical moments of the play, led by Ariel Harrison as a sprightly Ariel. Leaves decorate the theatrical space, offering an earthly, tropical feel (perhaps more from the summer heat), and the use of music from composer David Knight, some contrasting lighting, and a particularly fantastical moment using a mask are all well implemented.

This Tempest, then, may be a little uneven, but it's creatively presented and a lot of fun.

3/5

Watch: The Tempest runs at the Hope Theatre until 18th July.



Thursday, 2 July 2015

Twelfth Night - Iris Theatre @ St Paul's Church, Covent Garden

Twelfth Night - Iris Theatre @ St Paul's Church, Covent Garden

With so many different Shakespeare productions striving to do something unique, sometimes it's best to see something that's simply a well done, pleasant production. This version of Twelfth Night from Iris Theatre is delightfully unfussy, with excellent acting and plenty of charm.

There remains a small gimmick in that this is a promenade performance around the gardens of St Paul's Church, as part of the company's regular summer season. Hayfever aside, watching Shakespeare performed outside can be a magical experience and Twelfth Night delivers. Scene by scene we are gently ushered to different sections of the garden, delicately dressed with subtle lighting and sailing paraphernalia - the aftermath of the opening storm. Walking between scenes may not be to everyone's taste, but it provides a welcome change of pace that neatly breaks up the action. If anything, the final scene inside the church feels oddly constrained by comparison, the acoustics hampering diction.

Outside, though, the actors project well over the ambient noise with clear diction, cleverly using the theatrical space under the slick direction of Vik Sivalingam. As ever with Twelfth Night, the yellow breeches subplot proves most entertaining: Henry Wyrley-Birch plays a hilariously eccentric Aguecheek (also doubling as Sebastian), Anne-Marie Piazza is a devilishly naughty Maria, and Tony Bell's final moments as Malvolio are full of pathos. Elsewhere in this colourful cast, Nick Howard-Brown is an impish Feste and Olivia Onyehara has regal presence as Olivia.

As arguably Shakespeare's most popular comedy, this is a lucid and approachable production that's lively, well-paced and above all amusingly entertaining. This is aided by a creative mix of modern and traditional costumes and some delightful music from composer Harry Blake performed throughout by the cast. The stunning backdrop of St Paul's Church - a place of quiet tranquility in the heart of London - only adds to the ambience.

4/5

Watch: Twelfth Night runs at St Paul's Church, Covent Garden until 24th July.


Photos: Hannah Barton

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Glastonbury 2015


It all began with the Foo Fighters.

Or rather it didn't. When the band dropped out of headlining after Dave Grohl broke his leg, they left a gaping hole. Azealia Banks later followed suit, indicative of a disappointingly lightweight line-up. Has Glastonbury finally lost its edge?

It's arguably too big, making it impossible to please its varied hordes of festival goers. Yet in many ways the Eavis' are behind the times as they remain staunchly wedded to rock music. When hyped secret gigs are taken by niche bands like Drenge and Wolf Alice, or rockers way beyond their prime like The Charlatans or The Libertines, you know the barrel is being well and truly scraped. This is more a comment on the state of the music industry as a whole: there simply aren't any decent rock acts worthy of the Glastonbury headliner slot.

Whatever you may think of Kanye West, then, it was a step in the right direction towards greater and much needed diversity beyond straight white male rock. That said, it was hardly an enjoyable set. After the grand and dramatic opening of Stronger under a low ceiling of lights, the energy soon dipped as West's ego took over: the music was self-indulgent, the stop-start nature felt more like a dress rehearsal and the stage was empty with a lack of special guests, as his angry and misogynistic music swept like a wave over the crowd. That said, this is Kanye West - what else can you expect? Love or hate him, his performance was one of the most talked about moments of the festival, his name certainly living up to the billing. Sure, his rendition of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody was criminal, but when he spat at the audience "I'm the biggest rockstar on the planet" he wasn't far wrong.

If Saturday was the night where hip-hop took over Glastonbury, it was started by Pharrell Williams in a mixed set that was at times uncomfortable. He's undoubtedly got a string of incredible hits, but he's clearly more producer than performer. Worse, his obsession with "beautiful English girls" reached a sickening peak as a line of teenage girls were invited on stage for the N.E.R.D classic Lapdance. Yet when penultimate number Happy was similarly accompanied by a line of children representing his newfound family-friendly status, it was a bizarre juxtaposition. The final, revolutionary chants of new single Freedom were wholly unnecessary.

It was the Chemical Brothers who truly proved a dance act should have headlined this year (after they headlined the Pyramid Stage back in 2000). Whilst rock zombies The Who were performing on the Pyramid Stage, the real party was on the Other Stage as the DJs' acid beats and trippy visuals whipped the crowd into a frenzy of flares, fireworks and raving, ending the festival on a huge high that no current rock act could compete with.

Of the bands who performed, a sweaty secret gig from Bastille provided an early highlight; Everything Everything played tracks almost entirely from their new album yet still managed to please the crowd; and Alt-J provided an awesome blissed out wave in the Sunday sun. On the flip side, Catfish and the Bottlemen brought the rain on Friday, whilst Motorhead grunted and riffed on Ace of Spades for an hour.

On the pop end of the spectrum, it was Years and Years who triumphed. King remains the song of the year and their performance set the John Peel tent ablaze. That said, they had stiff competition from Glasgow's Prides, whose powerhouse performance delivered bright, bold electro-pop melodies - Chvrches meets The 1975.

Elsewhere there were still plenty of highs. On Friday, Lonelady brought scratchy punk-disco to Williams Green, Jungle brought sunshine to The Other stage, Chet Faker provided glitchy beats in the John Peel tent and Mary J Blige was really over the drama on the Pyramid Stage. Later, Mark Ronson's set dipped in the middle with the focus on his new material, but the mood changed once he was joined by Boy George for a sing-along of Do You Really Want To Hurt Me, followed by Valerie with Amy Winehouse's original vocals.

Saturday saw regular festival crowd-pleaser Frank Turner bursting with charisma, despite the hungover morning audience, and French-Cuban twins Ibeyi haunted the Park Stage with beautiful chants and harmonies. That same stage on Sunday was the platform for multi-instrumentalist Jack Garret who impressively layered spectral garage beats, impassioned soulful vocals and rock guitar; he was followed by Rae Morris whose delicate vocals and gentle delivery lacked a little edge. In the evening, the sumptuous vocals of Lianne La Havas melted over the John Peel audience, but the lack of screens at the West Holts stage hampered FKA Twigs, who was unable to translate her mesmerisingly visual performance to a festival stage.

Then there was Lionel Richie, visibly overcome by the audience reaction. Navigating the crowd, however, was quite literally hell - like Dolly Parton last year, it's always the fun, cheesy acts that draw the biggest audience.

And how did Florence + The Machine fair stepping into the shoes of Dave Grohl? Fantastically. Despite skipping around the stage like an excitable puppy, Welch stepped up her game for the headline slot and capably proved her critics wrong. It was at times a little flouncy with the emphatic interpretive dancing but the hits were there amidst an ecstatic performance. As the first female headliner since Beyoncé in 2011, she showed that women can be strong headliners too - more of this please. Whipping her top off at the end was one of this year's iconic, feminist moments.

And it's the individual moments that will be remembered most above the bland rock that predominated: Mark Ronson's Uptown Funk; Years and Years singing King; the audience chanting for Pharrell's Happy; Kanye West hovering over the audience in a crane; and the Chemical Brothers dropping Block Rockin' Beats in a whir of strobe lighting. These are the memories that will endure from 2015's festival through the inevitable rain and mud - isolated highs in a weak line-up that failed to really satisfy.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Tove Styrke - Kiddo

Tove Styrke - Kiddo

If there's one word to describe Tove Styrke's second album it's empowering. Opening track Ain't Got No... immediately struts in with more sass than a finger click, all stomping beats and electrifying synths. No wonder Uma Thurman's character in Kill Bill provided some inspiration for the album title.

From there, 'Kiddo' consists of a number of feminist anthems. The album campaign began with the percussive and punk-influenced Even If I'm Loud It Doesn't Mean I'm Talking To You; this was followed by EP 'Borderline', its title track a reggae infused song against the patriarchy ("I live my life in shackles but I'm borderline free"). That mindset certainly continues on the full album.

Best of all is lead single Ego: tropical beats and breezy synths underpin the yearning chorus lyric ("I wanna love you but you're making it impossible"), sung with breathy exasperation. This is more than just simple pop music.

It's this feminist attitude that sets Styrke apart from the usual Scandi-pop, with lyrics that are personal, candid and empowering. The production follows suit, with a strong reggae influence that distances her from most Swedish electro pop. Ain't Got No... and Snaren might begin the album in squelchy electro fashion, but tracks like Burn and Borderline almost sound like Rihanna tracks. Brag, meanwhile, is bright and syncopated in all the right ways, and Number One is a radio friendly slice of sunshine.

That's not to say Styrke can't do darker electro pop: the pulsing Samurai Boy or the evocative Who's Got News for instance. At times, though, 'Kiddo' doesn't quite feel stylistically cohesive and the feminist manifesto loses steam in its frothier moments.

Yet this album marks a fresh start for Styrke as she finally embarks on global success outside of her native Sweden. Judging by the strength of this album, she's certainly ready.

4/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Ego
* Number One
* Brag

Listen: 'Kiddo' is available now.


Monday, 22 June 2015

Kylie Minogue @ BST Hyde Park

Kylie Minogue @ BST Hyde Park


Forget All The Lovers, this was a day of all the Hits. That's Hits with a capital H. But you'd expect nothing less from a bill that includes Kylie, Chic and more.

There are exceptions to the rule though. It all began with newcomer Secaina Hudson, whose garage and house influenced beats were a little out of place so early on the main stage. Despite a slightly weak vocal, the dance rhythms packed a punch and her "refix" of Madonna and All Saints (Frozen Shores) provided some well known hooks.

Later there was Grace Jones. Whilst she may be a household name, her music is far from mainstream. But then, she probably doesn't give a sh*t what you think anyway. This was her own personal 'best of', bringing avant garde flair to an otherwise pop-tastic day. With more costume changes than Kylie, she emerged from backstage between each song in a new iconic headpiece, practically nude besides white tribal paint. For a 67 year old, she has the body of a goddess, sweaty nipples et al, singing whilst hula-hooping. Amazing. She's certainly a controversial and provocative figure, but that's why she has such a dedicated fanbase - even if her bizarre mix of gospel, soul, electro and rock styles didn't quite fit the theme of the day.

It was Years and Years who early on set the tone of the day. King is undoubtedly one of the biggest hits of the year; its tropical synths and anthemic melodies brought most of the audience to their feet. There's plenty more to this band though, with tracks like Desire, Take Shelter and current single Worship hitting all the right notes - forthcoming album 'Communion' is sure to be essential when it's released next month. Frontman Olly Alexander may not have the strongest live vocal, but he more than makes up for it with energy and boyish charm, though piano ballad Memo provided a beautiful moment of calm amongst the uptempo beats.

And so from Radio 1 to Radio 2, we then had Mika play...all the hits? Starting the set with Grace Kelly - his biggest track - may seem counterintuitive, but from there he played a whole string of forgotten hits like Love Today, Big Girl, Happy Ending and Relax (Take It Easy), even if these are all from his debut album. His brand of fluffy colourful pop may be forgettable a few years down the line, but he remains a vibrant live performer with a surprisingly powerful vocal and the enviable ability to effortlessly entertain a crowd.

If you're after hits though, Chic and Nile Rodgers have countless. Their two vocalists capably belted and riffed their way through a huge back catalogue of both Chic tracks and those written for other artists, whilst Rodgers himself jangled his way through them all on funk guitar. It's an instantly recognisable style, though after a lengthy set of extended tracks they do somewhat blur together as one. Yet few artists are capable of inducing such sexy grooves, and few frontmen are as cool as Rodgers. When the stage was filled with backstage crew and fans, it was merely an extension of the main audience, everyone coming together in dancing joy.

Yet most of the crowd were here to see Kylie, and the Queen of Pop (sorry Madonna) did not disappoint as she, fittingly, began her set wearing a crown. It set the tone for a camp, fun performance that was essentially one long party. She sure as hell knows how to put on a show, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with a whole load of hits coupled with visual spectacle - dance routines, bright costumes and a massive glitterball. What really struck, though, is her down to earth nature: she may be a superstar but she exudes warmth and affection, adoring her fans almost as much as they adore her.

Really, Kylie was all of the other acts put together: a performer with an extensive back catalogue of frothy pop hits, who values aesthetics as much as music and remains relevant to a young audience as much as her old school fans. You couldn't ask for a more appropriate headliner.












Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Queen of Spades - ENO @ The Coliseum

The Queen of Spades - ENO

The Queen of Spades may be infrequently performed - this being ENO's first production in over twenty years - but Tchaikovsky's distinctly Russian Romantic style is immediately apparent from the overture alone. His orchestration is richly coloured, with brilliant melodies and sweeping melodrama. It makes for a fittingly glorious score for conductor Edward Gardner's last opera as Music Director at ENO.

Yet Director David Alden's production is cold by comparison. Set design employs an odd mix of visual styles that don't mesh together. A bland opening backdrop eventually makes way for a grimy, decaying setting bathed in a sickly yellow hue that just feels unfinished. It's decorated with gargoyles and chandeliers for a sense of antiquated Gothicism that undermines the otherwise modern setting.

The costumes follow suit, ranging from Cold War military uniforms, to a groovy 60s colour scheme. Fittingly, the chorus numbers are mostly static, yet this dissolves during the Ball scene into cartoon costumes, terrible dancing and rampant sex. It's bizarre, grotesque and jarringly comical.

Aesthetically, then, this production is a mixed bag, its best moments coming from Wolfgang Goebbel's stark lighting design and some spooky video projections that bring a welcome sense of the fantastical to this dark drama.

A lack of chemistry between the principals doesn't aid the frosty tone, but there are some exceptional individual performances. Giselle Allen makes for a dramatic Lisa, but it's Peter Hoare who excels in the lead role of Hermann - his bright, ringing tenor has sublime control in the upper register and, by the end, he truly sings with every ounce of strength. Best of all is Dame Felicity Palmer as the Countess: withered and vulnerable, yet eerily dominating and frightening.

Ironically the most arresting musical moment comes from the unaccompanied male chorus in the opera's denouement (a stunning, haunting piece), yet this production marks a rare chance to hear Tchaikovsky's score conducted by Gardner in one last hurrah.

3/5

Watch: The Queen of Spades runs at the Coliseum until 2nd July.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Giorgio Moroder - Déjà Vu

Giorgio Moroder - Déjà Vu

There are few musicians who could make a long-awaited return to music collaborating with some of today's hottest artists, having not had a major hit since the mid-80s. Giorgio Moroder is one of those people. Some assistance from Daft Punk has certainly aided his cause, but his pedigree speaks for itself.

In many ways the Italian producer is the grandfather of modern pop, having popularised the synthesiser in the 70s and simultaneously launched the disco career of Donna Summer with I Feel Love. Without Moroder...well, guitar music might still be a thing.

There's no such revolution here, but then this album isn't called 'Déjà Vu' for nothing. In many ways this is an album that celebrates the past - and not just with the typically funky disco style that Moroder pioneered. One highlight is a cover of Tom's Diner with vocals from Britney Spears - one of the best tracks she's done in years - whilst at the centre of the album is 74 Is the New 24, all pulsating Pet Shop Boys-esque synths.

Yet for the most part, 'Déjà Vu' repositions Moroder as a relevant producer for today. That the title track features vocals from Sia says it all - it's a gloriously uptempo track with a touch of nostalgia from today's most popular songwriter. Elsewhere the collaborations range from big names to upcoming stars. As well as the aforementioned Britney and Sia, there are features from Kylie Minogue and Kelis - the latter providing her unique husky vocals to Back and Forth.

At the other end of the spectrum there's the punky Diamonds with Charli XCX, the more evocative Don't Let Go with Mikky Ekko, and the dramatic Wildstar with Foxes. The relatively unknown Matthew Koma provides vocals on the fun and squelchy Tempted and, retaining his Euro roots, there's a remix of I Do This For You from Sweden's up and coming Marlene. Each track has a flavour of the vocalist, but as a whole the album is Moroder disco through and through.

With the resurgence of disco over the last couple of years, it's no surprise that Moroder has made a return. What is surprising is that he's created an album that not only celebrates his heritage but is utterly relevant to, as Kylie sings, Right Here, Right Now. Clearly 74 really is the new 24.

4/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Déjà vu
* Tempted
* Tom's Diner

Listen: 'Déjà Vu' is available now.



Thursday, 18 June 2015

Jurassic World (2015) - Colin Trevorrow

Jurassic World

Jurassic Park was the first film to really scare me. In that dark cinema, I spent most of the film with my head in my mum’s lap trying to hide from those damn Velociraptors in the kitchen. Still, I was only six.

Now, over twenty years later, we’re after bigger thrills. And so are the attendees of Jurassic World, the dinosaur theme park that’s now finally open. What better way to achieve this than by creating a brand new dinosaur, the Indominus Rex?

It all begins with cinema’s most irresponsible parents, who send off their two sons to the park to be looked after by their aunt Claire, the operations manager of the park who proceeds to leave the kids in the incapable hands of her assistant. But then, this is a film all about irresponsibility: scientists playing at God by messing with genetics, and a woman failing to keep control over her park or her family. However much humanity may try, we cannot control nature – unless, of course, you’re Chris Pratt.

The plot, then, is utterly silly with gaping plot holes bigger than a T-Rex’s jaw span. How this theme park was allowed to exist without basic safety measures is incomprehensible. Then again, the Jurassic Park series has always been more of a thrill ride than a serious scientific exploration and Jurassic World is more of a family film than ever. Having Chris Pratt as the lead only cements this, his comedic tongue-in-cheek acting style suiting the film’s tone even if he’s mostly reduced to macho action hero. Too often the action implausibly stops for some sort of quip when there really should be a little more urgency, yet this is a fun piece of blockbuster all-round entertainment that’s far from realism.

It might be mindless, but it’s equally tense, seat-gripping stuff. The usual set of raptors and a T-Rex are already suitably frightening, let alone combining them into the powerful Indominus Rex. The dinosaur might be a make-believe monster whose genetics conveniently advance the story, but it still allows for some exciting (if predictable) set pieces. It’s a rollercoaster ride fitting of any theme park.

Above all, though, this is a film about nostalgia. Jurassic World is, quite literally, built on Jurassic Park. When the two boys stumble upon the old Visitor Centre, its T-Rex skeleton now a crumpled heap on the floor, it’s a powerful moment for those of us who grew up with the previous three films. Many ideas from Jurassic Park are repeated here, including some specific shots (the two boys in the gyrosphere obviously parallels the two children from the first film being attacked by the T-Rex in the jeep), though it certainly helps to bring the series back to its roots whilst kickstarting it for a new generation. When the camera pans over the island and its majestic inhabitants to the sound of John Williams’ glorious theme tune, Jurrassic World still has the power to wow.

3/5

Watch: Jurassic World is out now.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Adam Lambert - The Original High

Adam Lambert - The Original High

In his American Idol audition, Simon Cowell admitted Adam Lambert was a “good singer” but described him as “theatrical”. Isn’t that what you want from a popstar – a performer? None of this boring singer-songwriter “real music” rubbish.

It’s curious, then, how Lambert’s success in the US hasn’t translated to the UK. Fronting Queen has certainly helped his cause (incidentally, he sang Bohemian Rhapsody in that first audition) and given him more exposure. ‘The Original High’, his third album (released on Warner Bros rather than RCA), is his real introduction to our shores and presents him as a popstar through and through.

How? Sweden.

‘The Original High’ has been executive produced by Swedish godfather of music Max Martin and producer Shellback. It’s not the first time these three have worked together – Martin and Shellback previously produced power ballad Whataya Want from Me on Lambert’s debut album and the almost Robyn-esque synthy single If I Had You. Now, producing a whole album has enabled the trio to work together to create a cohesive pop package fit for 2015.

Lambert hasn’t eschewed his rock past though. Brian May features on Lucy, a Dirty Diana-esque femme fatale track with an urgent chorus and screeching guitar solo. Equally, there’s another feature from recent Swedish sensation Tove Lo on Rumors – a track that’s not only representative of the synth-heavy electronic production of the album at large, but pairs Lambert with an overseas success and allows him to ride her wave.

Lead single Ghost Town certainly blends the two styles, opening the album with jangling guitars before lurching into a pulsing electronic chorus complete with obligatory whistling. The title track has a similar dance feel, albeit with a lighter, funkier tone. Another Lonely Night may begin as a gentle piano ballad, but soon jerks into a throb of synths. And Underground takes cue from modern R&B for its simmering beats and finger clicks. These tracks are all symptomatic of an artist searching for his place in today’s charts, covering all bases yet succeeding every time – owing largely to his exceptional vocal ability.

What holds the album together is Martin’s hook writing. Every track is a certified banger, equally relevant to 2015 and Lambert’s career. This extends to the bonus tracks on the deluxe edition; the bouncy These Boys is likely not included on the main album owing to Lambert’s sexuality. By the end of the album it does feel like overload: tracks like Things I Didn’t Say, dance track The Light, and Heavy Fire would all be main singles on any other artist’s album, but here lose some impact. That’s merely testament to the high quality pop on offer. ‘The Original High’ is essentially Lambert’s equivalent to ‘1989’ from Taylor Swift – both albums raised the stakes for each respective artist, albeit with a helping hand from everyone’s favourite Swede, Mr Martin.

4/5

Gizzle’s Choice:
* The Original High
* Rumors
* Lucy

Listen: ‘The Original High’ is available now.