ADELE – Skyfall [Listen]

As if we needed to even write about this, it’s destined to be big either way and you’ve probably heard it already on all the other blogs so take it as the Universal Wax stamp of approval instead. As 007s return draws near in this years must see action spectacle, it brings with it a new Bond theme. After the recent 90 second preview that we were teased with the other week, the full 4 minutes 46 seconds are now available and I’ve got to say, as an appreciator of Bond themes over the years, this one’s a corker!

Big, bombastic and with all the swagger of the earlier (and I must say, better) Bond themes, Skyfall struts onto the scene with truly epic production and the beautiful voice of Adele. It has enough John Barry to be unmistakably Bond, but it’s more confident than recent Bond themes and is a whole lot classier to boot. It may be one large nod back to the sixties and it’s also not the best song ever written (well, it is a Bond theme what did you expect) but as far as fueling my excitement for the film, it’s done a bloody good job. Skyfall launches 26th October (UK). The single is out now in all the usual places and has already topped the iTunes chart.

And here’s a little treat for all you karaoke lovers out there…

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The Shins – Port of Morrow [Review]

It’s been five years since the well praised Wincing the Night Away and The Shins are back featuring a new line-up with Port of Morrow, arguably their strongest record yet.

Mercers dabblings with Danger Mouse on the superb 2010 Broken Bells record is evident with a slightly more electronic sound bubbling away in the background throughout, it’s never at the forefront but it’s noticeably subtle – a nice evolution of the sound Mercer has crafted for The Shins. It’s also unmercifully catchy; something The Shins have always managed and over time has become apparently easier for Mercer judging by how many of the tracks have been jammed in my mind the last two weeks. Vocal melodies bounce effortlessly along with the music (check out The Rifle’s Spiral (below) & Simple Song for prime examples) and this is really one of my favourite elements of the album. James Mercer really is a genius when it comes to the flow of his lyrics. It’s pretty straight up Indie Pop but goddamn it sounds effortless and so very, very confident.

Five years is a long time and if the sound of Port of Morrow is anything to go by it’s not just Mercers vocal melodies that have been honed, the production is sublime and a leap forward from previous efforts. It’s smooth, warm and well balanced, nothing is lost in the mix and it sounds bright and summery. It doesn’t sound like it’s taking elements from any one decade of the past 40 years but blending carefully the best of all of them. Pacing is well managed with a comfortable blend of slower mellow tracks and more upbeat singles helping the albums rhythm and never really outstaying its welcome. If there was ever any doubt after the line-up changes and five year gap between albums, it is very clear that James Mercer is back. He is The Shins and he’s back, familiar yet better in nearly every way.

If you’re a fan of The Shins you should be checking this album out, I have no doubt about that. If you don’t fall into that camp and you’re on the fence, then you could do a lot worse than checking out this brilliantly catchy Indie Pop record. Finally, it also benefits from excellent artwork courtesy of Jacob Escobedo who also worked on the Broken Bells artwork.

Track listing is as follows (complete with highlighted highlights).

  1. The Rifle’s Spiral
  2. Simple Song
  3. It’s Only Life
  4. Bait and Switch
  5. September
  6. No Way Down
  7. For a Fool
  8. Fall of ’82
  9. 40 Mark Strasse
  10. Port of Morrow