Wild Beasts – Wanderlust

Why are Wild Beasts still referred to as an “indie rock band”? Better still, how did The Independent recently come to pull “rockers” out of its big book of music descriptors? One listen to Smother should be enough to correct such strange ideas.

The gentle loops and swirls of Smother are carried on into Wild Beasts’ new single, Wanderlust, taken from their new album Present Tense, to be released on February 24th. With ghostly wavering synths replacing the tight guitar and piano lines heard on much of Smother, Hayden Thorpe’s vocals on Wanderlust move from angelic to alienated; it will be interesting to see if this shift is maintained throughout Present Tense.

Pixies – Blue Eyed Hexe

Some people really need to calm down a little and give themselves a moment to get over what they perceive to be the auto-destruction of the Pixies’ legacy.

Once you’ve ascribed a certain cultural importance to a band, one that is necessarily ephemeral and era-specific, any reunion releases they manage to cobble together are always going to be problematic, and that’s before we even get to the less than universal acclaim afforded to their final pre-breakup album, or the band’s seemingly total dysfunctionality leading to repeated bass player departures / sackings.

No, EP2 – like EP1 before it – is not a return to Surfer Rosa or Doolittle. It’s not even a return to Bossanova. There is some callback, however: the intro to Blue Eyed Hexe does make it hard not to think back to Trompe Le Monde, although I don’t remember so much cowbell back then. As for the rest, it kinda sounds like Pixies to me, even if Kim-lovers and proper music journalists will try to tell me the whole thing is a pointless and grubby exercise in tarnishing the good times: “Greens and Blacks” is definitely not “a better Gigantic” no matter how hard Black Francis tries to convince anyone otherwise, but with Kim Deal gone, you can’t blame a guy for wanting to replace a set-closing staple; Magdalena is Havalina with heft and new consonants; only Snakes doesn’t immediately speak of old Pixies, and oddly enough it’s the weakest track, meandering gently towards the EP’s conclusion.

Real Estate – Talking Backwards

It’s always summer in the world of Real Estate: your only choice is whether to run through the fields laughing, or lie back and watch the sun lazily make its way across a calm blue sky.

Judging by new track Talking Backwards, summer will come early in 2014 – Real Estate are set to release Atlas, the follow-up to 2011’s Days, on March 3rd in the UK, and March 4th in the US.

As a teaser for the new album, they’ve made a video available for new track “Talking Backwards”, which continues the effortless simplicity of Days, with shimmery, summery, layered guitars and a trademark intricate and repeated (but never repetitive) melody.