POP: ALBUM REVIEWS

Rico: `Sanctuary Medicines' (Chrysalis)

The 25-year-old Glaswegian newcomer pokes the nation's underbelly, using a superb angry lyrical talent combined with biting industrial riffology, addictive chemical noir beats and a lush Tom Waits sensibility. Any other takers for debut of the year? HHHHH

Superchunk: `Come Pick Me Up'

(Matador/Merge)

It's been 10 years since Superchunk screamed into life and nowadays Mac actually tries to sing, but the melodies and rhythm are still there on this lovely, mature set of songs. The band's corking first three albums also get re-released this week. HHHH

Mike Ness: `Cheating at Solitaire'

(Time Bomb)

On his solo work, Social Distortion's founder leaves punk behind to pay homage to his rustic tastes (with Brian Setzer and Bruce Springsteen guesting briefly). With hints of Tom Waits, it's firmly on the dirty side of the country road. A worthy effort, but the Waco Brothers have been pumping this out for years. HHH

G Love & Speacil Sauce: `Philadelphonic' (Okeh/Epic)

Five years on, the Philly rap/roots/rockers still only command fan status over here. In many ways this is their most confident album, with great go-go and bayou breaks, but unfortunately it lacks a killer single like 1995's "Kiss & Tell". HHH

Madder Rose: `Hello June Fool'

(Cooking Vinyl)

Like fellow long-runners Superchunk, Madder Rose take a more sophisticated and slightly lighter turn. However, the results are less convincing, and while there are still some choice tracks here, it's a rambling whole and Mary Lorson's vocals lack their usual conviction. HH

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