Pop: Album Reviews

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The Independent Culture
Beck: "Mutations" (Geffen) This isn't the follow-up to Odelay and was meant to be released on an indie label. Even so, this is a remarkable work. It is more low key than his two "proper" albums yet it is packed with ideas and folkie grooves that make the prospect of another release very enticing indeed. HHHH

Creeper Lagoon: "I Become Smaller and Go" (Polydor) Creeper Lagoon signed in the US to the Dust Brothers' Nicklebag label. The band is a breath of fresh air. This debut album does contain some ragged tracks but when they're upbeat, as on "Wonderful Love" and "Dear Deadly", they swagger like the brattish brothers of Pavement. HHH

The King: "Gravelands" (Chrysalis) This Belfast enigma sways through classics like "Come as You Are", "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Whole Lotta Rosie" in a Vegas-period Elvis voice. Welcome to loungecore gone crazy. For some this will be aural heaven; for most, the joke will wear off quickly. HH

Oasis: "The Masterplan" (Creation) The Gallaghers may have been over- played by radio but this collection of b-sides, right from the crunching intro to "Acquiesce", shows they still have bite and reminds us why they easily climbed to the top of the Britpop pile. HHH

REM: "Up" (Warner Bros) REM's first outing as a trio is an undoubted return to form. It is full of beautiful musical textures, but it comes down to how much you like Michael Stipe's vocals, which feature heavily in the mix. With Up we are supposed to believe that REM are rock's great adventurers; pity Beck had to bring an album out and spoil the theory. HHH


Bis: "Eurodisco" (Wiija) Produced by Gang of Four's Andy Gill, this sampler from the new album sees Bis adopt a manic Human League stance that stomps and then stomps more, with punky interventions along the way. Who needs Cher's revamped hi-energy when this just kicks so much harder? HHH