Pop: Album reviews

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The Independent Culture
Robbie Fulks: "Let's Kill Saturday Night" (Geffen) On his major label debut, Chicago's "insurgent country" rebel has produced a storming rustic rocker. Fulks is sure to have a brilliant career, though he won't endear himself in the Bible Belt with the excellently sardonic track, "God Isn't Real". HHHHH

Buffalo Tom: "Smitten" (Beggars Banquet) For their sixth album - and one of their very best - the much- loved Boston trio are in a more mellow mood. Just why a band that can consistently pull out gems like "Scottish Windows" and "Wiser" and the rest aren't massive is still a bit of a headscratcher. HHHH

Red Snapper: "Making Bones" (Warp) The best dance release of the week, and one of the strongest of the year, shakes off their jazz fixation and departs on a harder-edged trip of beats and basslines. There's an orchestral, horn-led gem in "Spitalfields", while elsewhere inventive rapping and diva vocals add variety. HHHH

Sheryl Crow: "The Globe Sessions" (A&M) This third album varies things a bit with atmospheric samplings and the Celtic folk strains of "Riverside". If the single "My Favourite Mistake" sounded a bit weak, there are some stand-out tracks - none more so than "Members Only". Confirmed fans will love it even if it is starting to smack a little of over-familiarity. HHH

PJ Harvey: "Is This Desire" (Island) Now on her fifth album, PJ Harvey is another who adds in new twists to a very competent album but fails to quite prompt the awe that was inspired by earlier works. Flood's co-production adds a dark consistency throughout, while tracks like "The Wind" confirm Ms Harvey as another disciple of Slint's pioneering Spiderland album. HHH

SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Arnold: "Windsor Park" (Creation) Currently on tour with Neil Finn, the mellow, humorous London trio release one of the most beautiful slow tracks on their Hillside album, presumably to show us all that this is a disc every bit as worthy as the Gomez one that landed the Mercury Music Prize. HHHH

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