ALBUMS: Lunging, sweeping, bustling, disgusting and warty: Andy Gill on Terence Trent D'Arby's urbane sprawl, Aerosmith's polished lapse of taste and Mark E Smith's ever-elegant Fall

TERENCE TRENT D'ARBY

Terence Trent D'Arby's Symphony or Damn

(Columbia 473561)

TERENCE Trent D'Arby needs a producer, someone to focus his talent more tightly. Symphony or Damn goes some distance to redressing the disastrous effect of his second album - by having half-decent songs and hummable tunes, mainly - but it lunges in too many directions, and seems too eager to impress with sheer diversity. Track by track, he changes tack: storming funk-metal is followed by twee soft-soul duet, burring Stax-style horns by clever-clever 10cc pop. It sprawls so widely he's divided the 16 tracks into two parts, 'Confrontation' and 'Reconciliation'. The latter sounds the more natural, playing to his vocal strengths. There's a leaner, more effective album struggling to get out: I'd take the gospel-flavoured 'Wet Your Lips' and self-conscious tour de force 'Turn the Page' from the first part, add them to the bulk of the second part, and ditch the rest.

NEW ORDER

Republic

(London 828431)

UNLIKE Terence, New Order here extend their style without inflating the album beyond listenable length. There's something so charming and sincere about Barney Sumner's voice that it's virtually impossible not to be swept up by the pop swell of songs like 'Regret' and 'World'. But Republic is less slavishly poppy than Technique, and a much more varied album.

Of all indie-pop groups, they've the strongest grasp of the mesmeric circularity of modern dance music. Sumner's lyrics, meanwhile, are more like episodes from some ongoing emotional two-hander, written in the first-person singular and trying to unpick some knotty relationship. It's like reading an agony aunt's correspondence while the radio plays soft and soothing.

THE FALL

The Infotainment Scan

(Permanent PERM CD12)

TRUST Mark E Smith to save his most likeable, powerful album in years for his first post- major label release. The Infotainment Scan is bristling with mystery and bustling grooves, and a succession of Seventies references offering his usual skew- whiff view of the trend-happy entertainment industry. Can it be coincidence, for instance, that the fashion-victim critique 'Glam-Racket' includes the word 'suede' twice?

The cover version of Sister Sledge's 'Lost in Music', meanwhile, is rendered strange and mysterious by Smith's quietly impersonal vocal, while the pulsing Kraut-rock groove of 'A Past Gone Mad' perhaps betrays his true Seventies roots. For the rest, disco beats and grunge riffs alike are added to The Fall's standard bohemian rockabilly drive, with a uniformly high degree of success.

For humour, a cover of Steve Bent's hilarious 'I'm Going to Spain' is rendered even dafter by Smith's off-pitch delivery, without lowering the tone of proceedings too much. It's strange to say so, but The Fall have managed to mature into one of our more consistent outfits, without sacrificing one iota of their individuality. Whether they'll ever increase their audience accordingly is open to question. Great album, though.

AEROSMITH

Get a Grip

(Geffen GED 24444)

I'M NOT SURE there's room enough in life for more than one Aerosmith album, and if so, the splendid Pump must be the one. Get a Grip has possibly the vilest sleeve illustration ever - a pierced cow's udder, disgusting even if faked; it's questionable whether any of the credit accruing from the album's manicured hard rock outweighs this lapse of taste.

As before, it's a mixture of fast, flash, direct rockers, signalled by abrupt titles like 'Fever' and 'Flesh', simple pop- metal trifles like 'Shut Up and Dance' and more lengthy bouts of metallic pomp (like the current single 'Livin' on the Edge').

Industrial-grade metal buffed to a pleasing lustre, Get a Grip is an obvious contender for hard rock album of the year, but it's probably best listened to blind.

P J HARVEY

Rid of Me

(Island CID 8002)

P J HARVEY has claims on the territory abandoned by Patti Smith over a decade ago, but where her caterwauling rode on the back of a band that knew how to work up a head of exhilarating rock 'n' roll steam when necessary, Rid of Me is one long clumsy galumph, an extended tantrum of foot-stamping and frowns. Harvey's songs are rock as therapy, the moans and shrieks of personal torment rendered as public entertainment, all the more unlikeable for the undertow of sexual revulsion running through the album.

Producer and 'grunge godfather' Steve Albini has compounded the album's generally user-unfriendly aspect with a deliberately rough production that acknowledges few of the usual niceties: when someone coughs over the strummed intro to 'Rub 'Til It Bleeds', he doesn't bother to stop them and start again, or even mix it out. Doubtless it was considered appropriate to Harvey's 'warts and all' aesthetic, though in truth there's precious little here but the warts.

(Photograph omitted)

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?