Rüfüs Du Sol
Back in 2015/16 Sydney dance band Rüfüs were all over Triple J with dance/pop bangers You Were Right and Like an Animal.
Their second album Bloom debuted at No. 1 on the ARIA chart but Top 40 radio were too busy saturating long-term artists OMI and Lunchmoney Lewis to support local talent making radio-ready hits.
It’s baffling. Now officially known as Rüfüs Du Sol here as well as internationally, that didn’t stop the trio selling out tour after tour worldwide.
Where Bloom was born in Berlin, Solace was the product of California’s Venice Beach.
Once again it’s a different sound, a little less instant than Bloom or their debut Atlas.
With the electronic dance music scene turning formulaic and predictable, they’ve gone deeper and darker.
Solace is as inspired by the ambient electro soundscapes of Jon Hopkins and Brian Eno as much as digital pioneers like Giorgio Moroder.
Opener Treat You Better is a slowburner — by the ninety-second mark the wide-screen house beats introduce themselves and the whole thing starts to build, with layers of harmonies and whizzing synths. They know their way around a chorus by now.
Eyes fires up a dark new wave robo-groove, sticking to the less is more ethos here.
New Sky is another passive attack — firing up tension without lazy tricks or drops.
The title track specialises in intimacy — musically and lyrically — which is often rare terrain for this genre.
Like the last album’s epic Innerbloom, here Another Life unpacks nearly seven minutes of textures and emotions.
Dance music can create euphoria by starting with the head, while still remembering to get around to the feet./CAMERON ADAMS
If you like this try these: Jon Hopkins, Orbital
Always In Between (Warner)
Using a leftover Ed Sheeran song is the key to launching a pop project this year — ask Little Mix, Boyzone or Olly Murs. Sheeran’s left his fingerprints over UK singer Jess Glynne’s Thursday, from her second album. It stands out here — No One wants to be Adele’s Rolling In the Deep, Broken wants to be Adele’s Somebody Like You. Yet her soulful voice is often the best part of the songs here — not ideal when you’re trying to continue a run of seven UK No. 1 hits./CA
If you like this try these: M People, Joss Stone
Euphoria (Dot Dash/Remote Control)
These self-styled party lotharios show off a discerning, deep appreciation for disco, The Cure, Talking Heads and MiSex on their debut album. Boys just wanna have fun on Everything; rubbery funk with a very 2018 take on our lives: “Know what you’re drinking, what you’re thinking, it all just comes up in your feed.” It’s deft not daft. Awake takes flight on a walking bassline and strung-out, goopy vocals that go dowwwwn and then come up on falsetto. Loads of fun. Akila nearly reaches Human Animal heights. /MIKEY CAHILL
Try this if you like: EMF, World’s End Press
Tha Carter V (Universal)
Southern rapper Lil Wayne intended to drop Tha Carter V back in 2014, only he fell out with Birdman’s Cash Money Records. Though some songs are old (the riveting Mona Lisa with Kendrick Lamar), the album still sounds ‘now’. Plus Wayne has unexpected guests — from the late (and controversial) XXXTentacion to noughties R&B divas Ashanti and Nivea, his ex. Monumental at 23 tracks, Weezy’s supposed swansong is showy (Dedicate samples Barack Obama), yet he makes space for personal statements. Especially affecting is the Sampha-laced Let It All Work Out. /CYCLONE WEHNER
Try this if you like: Nicki Minaj, Travis Scott
A Star is Born (Universal)
Here’s an hour of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s as-seen-on-screen music. With his bourbon-soaked voice Cooper deals in Southern rock (co-written with Willie Nelson’s son Lukas). It’s also a surrogate new Gaga pop album, if you care to fashion your own playlist. Look What I Found recalls Elton during his ’70s soul period, Heal Me is moody synth-pop (co-written with Julia Michaels) and I Don’t Know What Love Is a country tinged piano power ballad designed to be the big Bodyguard moment. /CA
Try this if you like: Jason Isbell, Elton John
Look at him go. Paul Kelly is chewing steel, he’s a horse charging full pelt, riding high after an album based on Shakespeare’s writings then a follow-up record even more of a throwback than Seven Sonnets & a Song, titled Life Is Fine. It was an album of Coloured Girls songs, sold 6198 units and PK’s first No. 1 with a bullet.
The 63-year-old keeps himself young by staying relevant and relishing the opportunity to pump out another 12 mostly great songs.
And Death Shall Have No Dominion turns up its nose at mortality, a bright start to an album of gliding rock’n’roll and towering Blundstones riffs.
You can hear him smile sarcastically as he sings “I wear the scars, I earned them so hard, every day in a lucky country” in A Bastard Like Me (For Charlie Perkins). Kelly is perennially simpatico with the plight of our indigenous people, past, present and emerging.
With the One I Love frames Kelly as a man on a mission, leaving behind “my darling ones” to pursue his gut feeling. He uses a wonderful, told-you-so guitar line and “Ooh hoos”.
Little Wolf is a Dirty Three horse story about a deserting lupin, fleeing on a violin.
Kate Miller-Heidke appears on Bound To Follow (Aisling Song) and she too joins Kelly on the bit, racing ahead of her muse to produce her best track work in years. The organ is all over Bound To Follow and frequently adds hues to Nature.
God’s Grandeur is an attempt by Kelly to scrunch as many words into a chorus without it sounding like Wordy Rappinghood. It only starts being effective when female vocals enter and round out the painting. Best left off the record. Of all of Kelly’s vices, his addiction to making songs is the one that gives him vitality. /MC
Try this if you like: Kasey Chambers, Bruce Springsteen