Albums of the week: On All Fours, Ignorance, Salieri - Armida
New releases from Goat Girl, The Weather Station, and Les Talens Lyriques
On All Fours
“Many bands stumble” when faced with the challenge of staying true to themselves while also providing something new for their second album, said Ludovic Hunter-Tilney in the FT. Not so south London’s Goat Girl. Formed as a group of school friends in the mid-2010s, their self-titled post-punk debut was a well-received record on which “anger was blended with an anarchic kind of amusement; and their follow up, On All Fours, is a “confident stride forwards”, with less “scrappy energy” and more fluency and depth.
While the “anti-authority attitude is still present and correct”, the songs – produced by their label boss Dan Carey (Fontaines DC, Kate Tempest) – are more musically sophisticated, said Roisin O’Connor in The Independent. Overall, the album is an “intense listen” of “blistering harmonies” with themes of alienation and dislocation. Sad Cowboy morphs from electronic and trance into Spaghetti Western twangs, Anxiety Feels “luxuriates in hazy soul”, and the rock guitar fuzz of The Crack helps lend it an “epic scope”. More, please.
The Weather Station
For the past decade or more, Canadian Tamara Lindeman, who records as The Weather Station, has been delivering “piercing introspections” on a series of “decreasingly folky” albums, said Jonathan Bernstein in Rolling Stone. Her new album, though, is something different. Combining themes of heartbreak and climate peril, Ignorance broadens her sonic palette with crisp orchestral backing and a “propulsive” rhythm section, and claims for her a place as “one of the most audaciously inventive auteurs” in the singer-songwriter tradition. It’s like hearing a “millennial Joni Mitchell fronting jazzy versions of LCD Soundsystem or The National, depending on the song”.
The album is a five-star marvel, agreed Kitty Empire in The Observer: a “multi-layered, slowly unfolding record” on which “shimmering break-up songs double as a rallying cry for our ravaged planet” – and “bone-deep grief sits inside music that’s very easy to tap a toe to”. The songs here rank as great art, wringing “beauty out of pain” while avoiding all “mawkishness or cliché”. What a talent.
Les Talens Lyriques (Christophe Rousset)
Salieri – Armida
Salieri’s name will forever be linked with that of Mozart, but “for all the wrong reasons”, said Hugh Canning in The Sunday Times: though you would not know it from Peter Shaffer’s play, the two composers were “mutually respectful colleagues as well as rivals”. Yet while Mozart’s star remains undimmed, Salieri’s almost 40 operas languish in obscurity that is “undeserved” on the evidence of Armida, a Gluck-influenced work that he completed in 1771, aged 21. This top-notch recording by Christophe Rousset shows off the impressive economy of his writing, with four soloists and chorus.
This is a “tense and passionate” opera that’s well worth performing if – as here – a company has two “excellent, well-matched singing actresses”, said Zachary Woolfe in The New York Times. In Rousset’s elegant rendition, Lenneke Ruiten is “particularly subtle” as Armida. Florie Valiquette, too, is delightful in the soprano castrato role of Rinaldo, said Hugh Canning – while Teresa Iervolino brings warmth of tone and eloquence of diction to the part of Ismene.