Husky Rescue – Ship of Light (Catskills) *****
I loved their last album Ghost Is Not Real, too, but with their third and latest offering Helsinki’s Husky Rescue have really plumbed the depths and reached the highest heights of exquisite bitter-sweet perfect misery pop. The secret lies in their ingenious combination of Finnish chilliness and melancholy (especially Reeta-Leena Korhola’s frail, beautiful vocals, a curious mix of tenderness and icy distance, which lend every song the vague feel of a deeply sad and sinister children’s story set in a cruel frosty land) with some of the jauntiest, catchiest most perfect synth pop melodies you’re likely to hear all year.
Midlake – The Courage Of Others (Co Op) *****
When people first started talking about the new folk revival about five years ago, I think most of us imagined it would be an even briefer fad than Riot Grrll or Grime. Instead, folk has taken over the world. If you love Fleet Foxes and The Decemberists – and of course you do – then you will be equally smitten by this offering from yet another bunch of sensitive, hippie beardies with a Fairport Convention fixation. Though Midlake are from Texas, they sound much more akin to an expert distillation of the best of the Laurel Canyon folkies, Neil Young and, maybe, Jethro Tull. Twittery flutes, gorgeous tunes, harmonies: what more do you need?
Massive Attack – Heligoland (Virgin) ****
If a new Massive Attack album – even after a wait of five years – is no longer the event it was, that’s probably because their last effort 100th Window was utterly forgettable. Heligoland, though marks a definite return to form. After the first few listens I’m not yet convinced it’s a five-star classic in the Mezzanine mould but that’s possibly because it’s so wilfully understated. But most of our old friends are here: vocals from Martina Topley Bird and Daddy G (as well as Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval and Elbow’s Guy Garvey), plus lashings of the usual boomy, stoner dub. Maybe the tunes will become more obvious with further plays.