5 of the best comebacks of 2017 (so far)
There have been a lot of comebacks records in music this year. Some from bands who've recently reformed, others from those who've just chosen to spend their time out of the studio.
It's comforting to have shelves are packed with new records from bands many of us had long given up on. But you can't help but be nervous about whether these familiar voices still have something to say.
Here are five of the new comeback records from old bands that deserve your attention.
Slowdive – Slowdive
Rachel Goswell told Karen Leng that she wasn't interested in reigniting her hugely influential shoegaze group Slowdive unless she could be assured it was worth it. Slowdive proves she was serious.
Much like that other British shoegaze band of the early-‘90s, Slowdive’s return to active duty sounds like a band with something new to say. With a legacy as strong as theirs, it had to be.
Sweet, wistful melodies abound, while jangling guitars and serene sounding synths provide the washy backing for most of these eight long, beautiful sonic explorations. Rachel Goswell’s sweet falsetto sinks back into the arrangements comfortably, Neil Halstead’s everyman croon is more prominent but never intrusive.
There’s nothing overly complex about Slowdive, but their exquisite palette of sounds and the meticulous way in which they utilise them makes Slowdive’s first new record in 22 years damn near close to perfect.
A genuine album of the year contender and surely the greatest comeback of the year.
The Jesus & Mary Chain – Damage and Joy
Given they’ve been active for the best part of a decade, it wasn’t exactly surprising to finally get a new record from The Jesus & Mary Chain. And their many faithful fans probably weren’t too concerned about the band delivering the goods on their first new record in 19 years.
‘Amputation’ drips with cool, its power-pop hook sure to stick in your head for hours. The languid ‘War On Peace’, the gritty ‘Mood Rider’ and the funny, self-aware ‘Facing Up To The Facts’ all exhibit different sides to this indie rock beast.
But the highlight is classic pop of ‘Song For A Secret’; one of the sweetest things they have ever done. Conversely, that brilliant brash noise returns on ‘All Things Pass’, William Reid’s lead break cuts like a razor.
With 14 tracks to slog through, listeners will soon stick to their favourite moments. Though the addition of accompanying vocalists freshens the whole affair up. Bernadette Denning, Isobel Campbell, Linda Fox and Sky Ferreira all appear throughout, and they’re all great.
It won’t contend with their best, but Damage and Joy is pretty damn solid all the same.
Soulwax – From Deewee
Calling From Deewee a comeback probably isn’t giving Soulwax enough credit. The trio have been making music in different forms fairly consistently over the years, but this latest record is technically the first proper Soulwax album in 12 years. (We’re not counting their excellent Belgica soundtrack from last year).
As expected, it’s both straightforward and experimental. It both leans into the trio’s formidable pop nous and pushes their sound to the outer reaches of psychedelic electro. It’s an album in the truest sense – best heard as one cracking 50-minute exploration – but was recorded in a most unconventional manner; completely live, no overdubs, relying on the energy of the music and their formidable talent to get them through.
The group touch on ‘80s pop, 70s kosmische, ‘90s alt-rock and modern electro at different stages of From Deewee, but their ability to blend disparate styles isn’t limited to their legendary DJ sets, they can do it on the fly as musicians too. A glorious, varied pop record that will sound great in another 12 years. But let’s hope these talented fellows return far sooner than that.
At The Drive In – in•ter a•li•a
With 17 years of psychedelic experimentation in between At The Drive In LPs, it’s a bit of a shock to hear the band return to their furious punk rock roots on in•ter a•li•a. But the band were determined to give their fans the same At The Drive-In that imploded at the peak of their powers early this century.
They’ve made a good fist of it, particularly given guitarist Jim Ward isn’t with them to provide his underrated backing vocals. It’s the one aspect of the band that fans will surely miss. Fellow Sparta member Keeley Davis is a solid guitarist in his stead, though. The band sounds as solid as ever.
It’s doubtful that we’ll consider any of the songs from in•ter a•li•a as anthemic as ‘One Armed Scissor’, ‘Invalid Litter Dept.’ or ‘Arcarsenal’, but there’s a lot of impassioned, fist-pump-worthy, soaring post-hardcore goodness to be had here and not much psychedelic noodling. If they had to come back, this is the right way to do it.
LCD Soundsystem – ‘call the police’/ ‘american dream’
Okay, we might be getting a little ahead of ourselves here. But the two tracks that New York dance-punk heroes LCD Soundsystem dropped on us last week are enough to get any fan of the band excited.
Seven years between records isn’t a particularly long break, but given the extravagant nature in which James Murphy and co said goodbye to the world just a couple of years ago, their comeback feels significant.
Thankfully, it also sounds great. The first two new songs from the group are as solid as anything the band offered pre-split and, as their best songs always have, they’ll just continue to grow and end up blooming into beautiful little soundtracks to this time in our lives.
‘call the police’ is a dancefloor filler, with its pulsing bass, soaring synths and tasty guitar lines. On the other hand, ‘american dream’ is a kind of strange electro-waltz-ballad that has James Murphy delivering one of his most captivating character sketches yet.
It all bodes well for album number four, which should be out some time this year.