New albums: Lizzo, Emma Bunton, Chemical Brothers
April 18, 2019
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LIZZOCuz I Love You (Warner)

4 stars

AMERICAN singer Lizzo runs on positivity.

She even managed to power through her first Coachella set last weekend when power cuts saw her sound repeatedly drop out.

No music? No worries. Keep singing your heart out and charm the crowd.

That show must go on attitude has seen the world finally, belatedly discover the 30 year old this year — this is her third album.

It’s also a thoroughly 2019 record — swift (most songs barely break three minutes) and genreless.

First single Juice introduced Lizzo (at least to those poor souls who hadn’t heard Good as Hell) with a 80s fun’n’funk throwback that was part Rick James, part Sheila E.

If Lizzo is shining everybody is going to shine. Pic: Warner MusicSource:Supplied

Radio were still digesting Juice when Lizzo dropped Cuz I Love You— a theatrical rock mini-epic (Aretha meets Rocky Horror meets Lady Gaga) where you just know Lizzo left the vocal booth totally spent.

Third single Tempo with uber guest Missy Elliott fired up rump-shaking bass, and showcased Lizzo’s vocal flow.

The album continues to pinball in style and styles.

Like a Girl is the female empowerment lyric you’ve heard from endless pop princesses, but it actually sounds authentic from Lizzo.

See also self-worth ode Soulmate (“I know how to love me”) while Jerome serves life lessons to modern men over modern Motown: “2am photos with smiles and hearts ain’t the way to my juicy parts”.

Cry Baby instantly reminds you she worked with Prince — those layered vocal harmonies and brooding rock guitars suit her as well as any modern R&B beats.

In just over 30 minutes Lizzo does the most here, from vocal riffing alongside the guitars in Better in Color to firing up her trademark flute (FYI it’s named Sasha and has its own Instagram page) on the gospel meets house Heaven Help Me.

Lizzo already loves herself. Now it’s your turn to fall in love with her. It won’t take too long.

CAMERON ADAMS

Try this if you like: Prince, TLC, Beyonce

Lizzo on stage at Coachella last weekend. Pic: Rich Fury/Getty Images for CoachellaSource:Getty Images

Album cover: Jess Ribeiro. Pic: SuppliedSource:Supplied

Album cover: Cuz I Love You by Lizzo. Pic: WarnerSource:Supplied

JESS RIBEIRO

Love Hate (Barely Dressed)

4 stars

A little bit of heartbreak never hurt anyone. Ribeiro lets these 12 songs tumble out of her in time with her tears. She sums up the state of play in Vignette 2 — Cry Baby. “Take myself to the lonely hearts theatre, watching sad film all the time, sit down in the front row with me yes myself and I.” Never too glum to strum, Ribeiro continues her hot run of sly, noir folk albums that will live on after we all turn to dust. Dylan, Stranger and Young Love will get at you. /MIKEY CAHILL

Try this if you like: Mazzy Star, the Ronettes, Teeth & Tongue

EMMA BUNTON

My Happy Place (BMG)
2 stars

First we’re bypassed — once again — on a Spice Girls tour, now Beige Spice not so much covers but suffocates an Oz dance classic on her new solo album. Here Madison Avenue’s Don’t Call Me Baby cops a Latin-lite makeunder and total attitude bypass. It’s symptomatic of this album’s gaping ‘meh’ factor. Baby covers Norah Jones (of course) and Here Comes the Sun while Robbie Williams duets on the Spice’s 2 Become 1 for Smooth FM listeners. Best is You’re All I Need to Get By with hubby Jade Jones — actual soul. Pleasant. CA

Try this if you like: Dido, Judith Durham

UK dance duo The Chemical Brothers are still going strong. Pic: EMISource:Supplied

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
No Geography (EMI)

3.5 stars

When will it be time for The Chemical Brothers to Exit Planet Dust? How do they remain relevant in the shifting sands of the dance world? Blast Got To Keep On from No Geography, their ninth record and it’s viscerally clear they shouldn’t give up their night jobs. There’s life yet.

This record excels by keeping the same approach they’ve always had: don’t chase trends; chase trendy singers, chase amazing voices we’ve never heard of, chase the feeling of arriving at a club full of energy, hope and beans.

Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons use dialogue from the late ’60s experimental Dial-A-Poem project, Norwegian wonder woman Aurora (on the breakbeat, halcyon days title track, very Dig Your Own Hole) and old analogue gear to give you mostly what you want.

The opening track Eve of Destruction feat. Japanese rapper Nene gets the elephant stomp stamp. Just. The “exterminate” style robotic vocal “Eeeve ov Destruc-chon” is laboured, referencing Brexit (?) or Trump-ocalypse (??) but ending up NQR like the portmanteau Trump-ocalypse. Gravity Drops kicks like a mule, We’ve Got To Try nods its Neo-Tokyo cap to The Avalanches before the vintage acid sound comes in to rip things up, MAH goes at a clip, a speedboat bouncing over whitecaps at around 130 beats a minute as an exasperated-yet-jocular fellow bellows “I’m mad as hell, and I ain’t gonna take it no more”. Behind him there are tripped out laughs of an after-afterparty crowd in a lounge in London, their guffaws bubbling up like Sodastream. It’s a gas gas gas.

The Manchester duo still have plenty to say with their whizzing electronics, dancing on a tightrope — now they need to say more with their words./MC

Try this if you like: Underworld, the Presets

Album cover: Black and Blue Heart. Pic: BloodlinesSource:Supplied

Album cover: My Happy Place. Pic: BMGSource:Supplied

RUSSELL MORRIS

Black and Blue Heart (Bloodlines)

4 stars

At 70, Russell Morris is so inspired (and winning ARIAs) this is his fourth album in seven years. With producers Bernard Fanning and Nick DiDia, Morris covers major terrain. Is There Anybody Out There? has Leonard Cohen’s restrained swagger, Sitting Pretty channels peak Cold Chisel, while the title track suits Morris’ Dylan-esque voice. Not My Lucky Day reopens his recent blues vein, Asleep at the Wheel is sci-fi Nick Drake and Forever Remembered is an ode to our loved ones./CA

Try this if you like: Powderfinger, Bob Dylan