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Four Tet - Live at Alexandra Palace London, 8th and 9th May 2019 Music Album Reviews

Kieran Hebden’s new live album reminds us that he is a stellar performer, not just a producer.
The British producer Kieran Hebden has one of the most distinctive signatures in electronic music. First, a gravelly drum machine; then, some jewel-toned synth pads; and, finally, a strip of harp or chimes or wordless cooing, unspooling like wrinkled ribbon.

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Bleached - Don’t You Think You've Had Enough? Music Album Reviews

The Los Angeles punk duo get sober and burn off the fog of their last release for a crisper, punchier sound.

Jennifer and Jessica Clavin had a near-cinematic Los Angeles upbringing—daughters of a guitarist who played noise music in the ’60s, the two formed a punk band in their garage in the Valley while still in high school. They’ve run down the West Coast checklist: toying with surf rock, visiting Joshua Tree, playing the Burger Records showcase. On Don’t You Think You've Had Enough?, the Clavin sisters remain unafraid to wear their inspirations on their sleeves. But they sound sharper and more focused than they have in a while.


Some of the record’s most successful tracks, like the slow-burn opener “Heartbeat Away” and the breakup anthem “Rebound City,” stick to basics—distortion-fried power chords, thumping backbeats, bouncing bass lines. Jennifer’s voice dips into twang on “Valley to LA,” recalling fellow West Coast sisters Heart. As with Welcome the Worms, the aesthetic is culled mostly from the sexed-up glam metal of the late ’70s and early ’80s. As if to drive the point home, the music video for “Kiss You Goodbye” recalls the debauched pool party from Boogie Nights, massive hair and all.

But Bleached also try on plenty of new looks. On “Somebody Dial 911,” they borrow from the goths, Jennifer’s puppy-love verses backed by basslines dripping with metallic reverb. On “Kiss You Goodbye,” they reach for gleaming funk guitars and gulped, staccato vocals. Some songs miss the mark—“I Get What I Need”’s creeping, bluesy bassline proves awkward—but most of them work, if only because the band sounds like they’re truly putting their all into their melodies and riffs, rather than leaving the heavy lifting to distortion.

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If it feels like the fog that had set in on their last release has been lifted, it might be because the sisters themselves feel a bit more clear-headed. In recent interviews, they talk about the clarity that has come with their recent sobriety, the ways that abstinence from alcohol can reframe friendships, change long nights out, reset the vantage point from which you examine your own past. Aside from the crisper and warmer production, this clarity comes through in their songwriting. On “Silly Girl,” they sing about cutting off a bad influence with the tossed-off dismissal of someone who’s not mad, just disappointed: “Goodbye, time for growing up/ Don’t you think you’ve had enough?” And “Hard to Kill” serves as a slick reality check as Jennifer coolly sings, “You’re so cool/You hate yourself.”

After 11 tracks of scorching riffs and lyrical dunks, “Shitty Ballet” finishes the record on a surprisingly introspective note, with acoustic guitars and a stripped-down vocal performance. Bleached has never sounded this humble or vulnerable—you almost want to lean in to catch the words before Jennifer swallows them. But just after the bridge, as her falsetto slides into its faintest register, they go electric, and the song explodes. Over a whirlwind of fuzzed-out guitar and cymbal crashes, Jennifer’s voice rises to a scream muffled by distortion—“Like, oh my god!” she sings, almost with a wink. After all, control is much more interesting after you've let things fly completely off the rails.


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