Pop: This Week's Album Releases

MARILYN MANSON

Mechanical Animals

Nothing/Universal/Interscope

IN CASE you've been off-planet the past few years, Marilyn Manson is the latest American androgyne perv bogeyman, sent to terrify liberals just as much as right-wing fundamentalists. Glorifying in their anathematical stance as regards religion, morality and society in general, Marilyn and his band bear out the old Jefferson Airplane cod-revolutionary boast that "Everything they say we are, we are", diligently seeking out new and hideous forms of degradation to celebrate. And if they run out of ideas, well, so much the better. As Marilyn sneers here: "I was a nihilist, and now I'm just too fucking bored."

Following swiftly on the heels of the band's stop-gap Remix And Repent package, Mechanical Animals offers a more sinister take on the same theme as Radiohead's "Paranoid Android", depicting a modern world in which the more noble aspects of humanity have been worn threadbare by drugs and a fixation with celebrity sleaze. Which is fair enough in principle, except that even a Sunday Sport gossip columnist would have to go some to be quite as obsessed with sleaze and drugs as Marilyn Manson him/themselves. The centrepiece here is the single "The Dope Show", in which, to a backing of chunky, rough-trade rock, celebrity is celebrated as narcotic in nature. To illustrate this, the band are represented in the CD booklet as a fictive unit called Omega And The Mechanical Animals, a thinly-disguised take on Ziggy and the Spiders.

This is the shortcoming of Mechanical Animals. For all its brusque musicality - former Material singer Michael Beinhorn's production certainly gives it the focused power largely absent from its Trent Reznor-produced predecessor - it's still essentially just a retread of ideas done to death by glam and punk. As Marilyn admits in "Rock Is Dead", "Rock is deader than dead/Shock is all in your head/Your sex and your dope is all that we're fed". Which leaves them in the gutter, staring at the stars like all self-romanticising bohemians. Except that in Marilyn's view, "In space the stars are no nearer/They just glitter like a morgue". Cheers!

EELS

Electro-Shock Blues

DreamWorks

LIKE LOU Reed's rather more sombre Magic And Loss, Electro-Shock Blues is a series of reactions to the creeping mortality claiming the friends and family of Eels' songwriter E. He starts with a lovely little ditty about his sister's suicide, "Elizabeth On The Bathroom Floor", and just keeps on chuckling: "Cancer For The Cure", "Hospital Food", "My Descent Into Madness", "Going To Your Funeral" (Parts 1 and 2) - a parade of occasionally droll melancholia dressed in whimsical, Beck-ish backings. It's an intelligent innocent's impressions of illness and bereavement, the depth of grief betrayed by the deceptive flippancy of the CD booklet cartoons, particularly that of a tombstone bearing the inscription "Sing Along At Home". Dead funny, eh?

This is dark, dark stuff, unflinching in its detail - "So I know you're going pretty soon/Radiation sore throat got your tongue" - yet drily elegant in its emotional responses; but like the Lou Reed album, it's ultimately of questionable appeal outside the context of E's therapeutic needs. It does, however, allow him to join Marilyn Manson in viewing drugs as a metaphor for society, though in his case rather less recreational than medicational. Here's hoping for all our sakes that the numbness which settled with "Novocaine For The Soul" really is lifting with the penultimate track, "The Medication Is Wearing Off".

FAITHLESS

Sunday 8pm

Cheeky

THIS EAGERLY-awaited follow-up to 1996's multi-million-selling Reverence holds no great surprises, unless sustained excellence is so rare as to be surprising. Faithless blends its diverse talents - the keyboard skills of Sister Bliss, the understated rapping of Maxi Jazz, the songwriting of Jamie Catto and the programming of Rollo (who co-produces with Sister Bliss) into poised, Massive Attack-style grooves, carefully augmented here by strings, percussion, and the unobtrusive guitar of Dave Randall.

Opening with the pastoral instrumental, "The Garden", as delicate as dew on spiders webs at dawn, Sunday 8pm reaches its peak with "I Want My Family Back", a crepuscular creep through murky streets, featuring Maxi's deadpan, clear-eyed rap about the pervasive anxiety of our society: "A crash in the economy robbed me of my family/And no strategy combats negative equity/So that's it/Like violence, it's drastic". A subtle, intelligent performance which helps restore faith in a genre tiresomely prone to violent boasting and sexist crowing. Elsewhere, guest vocalists Boy George, Rachael Brown and Dido provide alternative focuses of interest, the latter most impressively on "Hem Of His Garment", turning the old gospel plea inside out by admitting she has been "touched by the hem of his garment".

THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS

Brothers Gonna Work It Out

Freestyle Dust/Virgin

NOT THE third Chemical Brothers album proper, but that least enticing of contemporary artforms, a DJ Mix album. But where some DJ mixes barely even bother to segue properly between their bought-by-the-batch disco cuts, in Tom and Ed's case it's more appropriate to talk in terms of sound sculpture. Here, they offer five tracks of between 10 and 20 minutes apiece, each mixed from about the same number of records, with fragments from such as Kenny Dope, Love Corporation and the Unique 3 spun into new sonic concoctions.

The most entertaining is probably the opening mix, which effortlessly spans decades by blending Willie Hutch's "Brother's Gonna Work It Out" with the Jimmy Castor Bunch's "It's Just Begun" and a couple of the Brothers' own numbers; and the fourth track, on which they pay homage to influences like Renegade Soundwave and Meat Beat Manifesto, with the latter's "Mars Needs Women" answered by the cry of "I want my planet back" from Dubtribe Sound System's "Mother Earth". Also included are their charmingly idiosyncratic remixes of the Manics' "Everything Must Go" - from which just about everything has indeed gone - and Spiritualized's "I Think I'm In Love", which brings things to a suitably chilled conclusion.

SHERYL CROW

The Globe Sessions

A&M

HER THIRD album extends Sheryl Crow's songcraft in several directions, the most appealing of which is the warm, rolling "It Don't Hurt", a carnival whirl of organ, autoharp, violin and National guitar whipped to a light froth by Crow and mixer Tchad Blake. Less appealing is the streak of Alanis- style psychodrama that has crept into songs like "Am I Getting Through (Parts I & II)", a fearsome harangue rather like overhearing an argument in a restaurant.

In between are more of the sort of songs which are Crow's stock-in-trade: glib, oddly pointless tales which sound like songs, but not in any compelling sense. There's no suggestion that you might encounter mystery or revelation in them, just a shaggy-dog narrative with an attitude. She encapsulates her own problem in the Tinseltown shallowness of "There Goes The Neighborhood", where "the movie of the screenplay of a book about a girl who loved a junkie" swiftly degenerates into apathetic irony: "We can't be certain who the villains are 'cos everyone's so pretty/But the after-party's sure to be a wing-ding as it moves into your city." The new Dylan song, "Mississippi", a singalong romp, lent a curious gipsy flavour by violin and Chamberlain strings, rather shows up her material - and shows that Bob can still crank out a surefire hit if the fancy takes him, too.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent