Two reviews in this month’s issue of fRoots caught my eye – the new albums by Spiro and Lau, two bands to whom I am no stranger. Many of us probably still read stacks of reviews every month. So what does it take to make us sit up and take notice?
The Spiro album is described as ‘acoustic techno early chamber minimalist’. In five words the reviewer has encapsulated a personalised message that might have gone something like this : ‘Dear Mr Cat, You may not have heard of us, but most definitely we have heard of you. We at Real World Records have been monitoring your gig attendance, done a time and motion study of you at festivals, checked what you listen to on Spotify and surreptitiously gained entry to your house to examine your CD collection. Further, a sophisticated program analysed the collected data and ran it past your lobes and synapses for verification. From this information, we know exactly what will float your boat and, as a result, Spiro have fashioned an album for you specifically, to which you will be swooning for the rest of the summer.’
The Lau review begins ‘Lau have never been shy of pushing the boat out and taking chances, but their resolve to shake things up and move their horizons beyond the beyond accelerate several gears on an album that careers at a breathtaking rate between spiritual beauty, intricate musicianship, torrential soundscapes and demonic frenzy.’ Now, my English teacher of yore might have baulked at the length of that sentence, but it is nonetheless effective. I have no resistance to this. It is as if a Bond villain had turned up at my Sidmouth gazebo and announced as the laid trap snaps shut, ‘Ah, we have been expecting you.’
What presses your buttons? What does a review have to say for you to know that this is your next purchase?