Long Live Vinyl’s pick of this week’s new releases on vinyl, including three artists with more unexpected consonants than Rachel Riley and punsome, punky, grungy pop from Vancouver…

Chvrches album

Chvrches
Love Is Dead
Virgin Records

“I’ve been waiting for my whole life to grow old,” sings Lauren Mayberry on Graffiti, “and now we never will”.

It’s a brave, regal claim to immortality, but fair comment: Love Is Dead sounds like the work of a band stuck in permanent adolescence. They also appear to be unwilling to challenge themselves or their audience, their lyrics notably peppered with immature banalities such as Forever’s “I told you I would hate you till forever”.

Admittedly, they’ve sought to tweak their formula, bringing in producer du jour Greg Kurstin (Sia, Adele) for nine tracks, and another hitmaker, Steve Mac, to add his sparkle to Miracle. In the end, though, it still sounds like Chvrches, but now with added steroids, plus The National’s Matt Berninger, who adds typically nonchalant vocals to the moody, comparatively restrained My Enemy. With their monstrous choruses, Chvrches do this well, but it’s maybe time to stretch themselves.

Wooden Shjips album

Wooden Shjips
V.
Thrill Jockey

This is album number five for Moon Duo founder Ripley Johnson’s other fuzz-guitar-strafed hypno-rock wanderers and, generally speaking, it’s business as usual. Over a decade in, and the band continue to refract their looping classic-rock jams, reminiscent of Endless Boogie and their ilk, through the trippy and wonkily askew lens of acid-droners Spacemen 3. In short, this is Manna for attendees of the sudden abundance of ‘psych’ festivals taking place all over Europe and the US these days.

But the heads-down stoner drive of yore has, certainly on the San Francisco and Portland band’s most recent records, taken on a lighter, groovier touch. Now their nimble wig-outs are accompanied by euphoric sax squalls and synapse-frying trickery, as they tap into their West Coast DNA for a record of sun-dazed, liquid-light psychedelia that’s at odds with the pessimism of these times. It’s time to drink the orange sunshine. Chris Parkin

Jenny Hval
The Long Sleep
Sacred Bones

Following on from 2016’s Blood Bitch, the Norwegian artist Jenny Hval returns with an EP (although at 23 minutes, it’s not far off album-length) that carries on blurring the lines between esoteric pop and avant-garde explorations. The opening Spells is infectious in its piano-led twinkling melodies, almost recalling peak-period Mercury Rev in its subtle yet immersive atmosphere. Hval’s vocals soar above gliding saxophone and a gentle-yet-propulsive electronic beat.

It’s a beautiful construct, and a pristine example of Hval’s ability to craft pop from seemingly nowhere – or at least within unconventional song structures. The surging, vocally soaring opening track feels like something of a distant memory by the time The Long Sleep is reached. Based around an 11-minute drone, Hval’s vocals disappear into the background like distant echoes as rumbling, pummelling electronics move the song along. The polar opposition of these two tracks alone is a beautiful embodiment of the vastness of talent Hval possesses.

Jo Passed
Their Prime
Sub Pop

Vancouver-based quartet Jo Passed release debut Their Prime, their first full-length effort after two EPs; but already, their guitarist and bandleader Jo Hirabayashi is worried about being irrelevant. “You end up at this point where you hit 30 and you’re like: ‘Oh what happened? Am I done? Did I not activate my main creative energy?’ It’s a ridiculous idea, but 30 feels a little like 1,000 in rock ’n’ roll terms.”

Well, the band have at least ensured that Their Prime is full of all the jagged thrills and dynamic energy you’d expect from signings to a label with Sub Pop’s lineage; and don’t let Hirabayashi’s degree in jazz studies put you off, as its influence is confined to the odd musical flourish and sophisticated time signature amidst the relentlessly inventive grungy riffery and off-kilter, in-your-face indie-pop thrills. Fans of the likes of Avi Buffalo, Deerhunter and Wolf Parade will enjoy the unpretentious sophistication, eclecticism and band interplay on offer here.

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