Reviews

Review: Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden Rating 87%

Review: Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden

Few books do you race through for it having the prose and the imagery that won’t allow you to put it down. Salena Godden’s debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death is precisely one of those titles, intoxicating and life-affirming simultaneously, a title that grabs you with the first word, caresses you in parts with an occasional punch in the guts, until you race to the end. For a debut it’s a extraordinarily vital read.

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Review: Erasure – The Neon Rating 70%

Review: Erasure – The Neon

There’s something kinda wonderful about Erasure. Bar a few misteps they pretty much always sound like Erasure. I’ve personally not listened to many of their albums since the mid 90s – aside from their slightly disastrous record where they let one hit wonder Frankmusik produce.

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Review: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi Rating 79%

Review: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

One of the most anticipated books of 2020, after a page-turning read, it’s not difficult to see why. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi is a significant cultural read, in terms of the placement of the geographical location and the social issues surrounding. The third novel from this author, there is a great deal of subtext surrounding the lives of cousins Vivek and Osita, and with a narrative structure that centres around character, there is much to adore with this 2020 publication.

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Review: Cannibal by Safiya Sincair Rating 76%

Review: Cannibal by Safiya Sincair

Longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2017, Safiya Sinclair’s work, Cannibal, has taken the book world by storm, with the references toward The Tempest and postcolonial identity within this text. Her poems explore Jamaican childhood and history, race relations in America (and often in particular states), womanhood, otherness, and exile, and for that it seems, fresh, feisty and fierce. There is a texture and colour to her language that is evocative and astounding.

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Review: Kim Edgar – Held Rating 90%

Review: Kim Edgar – Held

Edinburgh-based folk-pop singer-songwriter Kim Edgar is renowned for her beautifully crafted, keenly observed and quietly powerful songs, which have a real emotional connection with the listener. The songs on Edgar’s fourth solo album, Held, address issues of grief, addiction and solidarity…”Many of the new songs are hugs I wrote for myself, after my dad’s death, which I realised could reach out with open arms to other people too.” For this album, Kim Edgar has once again enlisted the talents of some of Scotland’s finest musicians to provide added colour to her imaginative musical palette, and there are also guest vocals from fellow Scottish singer-songwriters Karine Polwart and Rachel Sermanni.

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Review: TJ, January 3rd Rating 76%

Review: TJ, January 3rd

TJ is a comedian from the US and this is his debut show, filmed on his 31st birthday on January 3rd 2020, but was first aired on 3rd November 2020. The advertising blurb calls it edgy and controversial; which it is. It seems these days that the way to amuse people is to offend other people, but as with all comedy some of these comments will be a hit, whilst others are a miss. Reviewing comedy is a strange thing really as we all find different things funny, and are all offended by different things. It must be said that TJ has a knack of making statements that could be taken as offensive but framing them in an amusing way.

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Review: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo Rating 74%

Review: Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo

Delving into Cho Nam-Joo’s novel Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 it is easy to mistake it for non-fiction. Not only does it cover the reality for many women in Korea but it also uses minimalist prose and statistics to throw you. A fierce international bestseller that launched Korea’s new feminist movement, this book ultimately follows one woman’s psychic deterioration in the face of rigid misogyny.

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Review: Adrianne Lenker – songs & instrumentals Rating 82%

Review: Adrianne Lenker – songs & instrumentals

Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker released two solo albums on the same day, although they could easily been a full package as one. songs and instrumentals are precisely as they prep you for. Both out on 23rd October, via 4AD, songs and instrumentals deserve all the kind press and acclaim, one of the more genteel albums with beguiling delicacies I have heard this year.

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Review: The Lady in the Portrait Rating 35%

Review: The Lady in the Portrait

With The Lady in the Portrait, French director Charles de Meaux takes a dazzling but conservative approach to dramatise a real-life occurrence: in 18th century China, Jesuit monk Attiret (Melvil Poupaud) is a court painter under Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. With its stiff rituals, closed-off palace grounds and social rigidities, life is a lot like it would be in Versailles, although Attiret and his fellow Jesuits repeatedly struggle with the courts’ mocking dabs at the Christian God and idea of chastity. Things start to stir when, during a memorial for the Emperor’s late wife, the new Empress Ulanara (Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing) has a bout of jealousy and decides to commission a Western-style portrait of herself to rekindle her husband’s interest (not an easy task in a palace brimming with a regular influx of pretty substitutes). Attiret gets the job – while quietly giggling onlookers and critics breathe into his neck during the first couple of sessions, they soon thin out to leave him and Ulanara in a setting of ‘inappropriate’ intimacy.

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Review: Chartreuse – Keep Checking Up On Me Rating 90%

Review: Chartreuse – Keep Checking Up On Me

Chartreuse are a Birmingham-based band consisting of close friends Michael Wagstaff (vocals, guitar and keys), Hattie Wilson (vocals and keys), Perry Lovering (bass and keys) and Rory Wagstaff (drums). Since forming in 2014, Chartreuse have developed an ambient, dark-pop sound with emotional depth and flavours of jazz, soul and folk. The band create spacious soundscapes which allow their beautifully crafted songs to breathe and stretch out. Last year’s debut EP, Even Free Money Doesn’t Get Me Out Of Bed, created considerable interest and so the follow-up EP, Keep Checking Up On Me, has been eagerly anticipated.

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Review: Haiku Salut – Pattern Thinker and Portrait in Dust Rating 77%

Review: Haiku Salut – Pattern Thinker and Portrait in Dust

If there is a band that anticipatingly connect sound and image, Haiku Salut are it, but you can never quite predict where they will go next. This time they have released two new tracks, both over 10 minutes long. The songs were written for a rescore project commissioned by Live Cinema UK, in which the Derbyshire Dales trio were set the challenge of writing a new score to two short archive films from the BFI National Archive. And if you watch them back to back, with the contemporary scores, there is a heightened stimulation to any weekday evening.

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Review: Future Islands – A Stream Of You And Me Rating 72%

Review: Future Islands – A Stream Of You And Me

With new album out, As Long As You Are, the guys from Future Islands were desperate to celebrate with a show of sorts, and that they did, treat ing their fans to their only live show of 2020. The Baltimore-based group have been road warriors for over a decade, touring extensively every year without fail, but 2020 is the first year the band will not hit the road since 2008. So this must have felt somewhat bizarre for them.

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