RECORDS: NEW RELEASES

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The Independent Culture
Elastica: Elastica (Deceptive, CD/ LP/tape, out tomorrow). Hard to believe that this is Elastica's dbut album, considering the media coverage they have already garnered. This has partly been down to singer Justine Frischmann's famous boy-friends, Damon from Blur and, before that, Brett from Suede, who is less-than-fondly remembered on "Never Here": "We were sitting in, waiting/And I told you my plan/ You were far too busy writing/ Rhymes that didn't scan." But the attention is mainly due to the band's economic pop songs - their sharp slivers of guitar and Frisch- mann's ennui-laden drawl - exemplified by the sublime "Connec-tion". Elastica have not stretched the template much further here. It is, yes, new new wave, and sometimes too close to old new wave: "Vaseline" is Blondie and "Waking Up" the Stranglers. But if it had been released in 1979 people would still be listening to it today. Perfect in its way and well worth the wait. Nicholas Barber

Hugh Wood: String Quartets. Chilingirian Quartet (Conifer, CD). Europeans tend to talk about the string quartet as people talk about the dead: respectfully and in the past tense. But in Britain it lives on, fed by the recent legacies of Britten and Tippett and sustained by craft-conscious composers like Hugh Wood whose four acknowledged essays in the genre feature on this disc. Spanning some 30 years, from 1962 to 1993, they stand fastidious and stylish testimony to the elegance of Wood's imagination. And the playing of the Chilingirian Quartet is keen, precise, involved, with the persuasive power of first-rank advocacy. Intellectually demanding? Yes, of course: this isn't dinner-party muzak. But its thoughtfulness is matched by bold, ear-catching gestures; and for anyone prepared to listen carefully and critically it has a lot to offer. Michael White

Duran Duran: Perfect Day (Parlo-phone, single, out tomorrow). A lush, druggy version of Lou Reed's most beautiful song. NB

Pearl Jam: This is Not for You (Epic, single). American! Shouting! Angst- ridden! Not encouraging, I know, but this is as good as those three adjectives get. NB

Dick Dale: Unknown Territory (Hightone, CD/LP/tape). A tidal wave of surf guitar from the Pulp Fiction man. NB

Massive Attack v Mad Professor: No Protection (Virgin, CD/LP/ tape). Eight songs from the fine Protection album, stripped to their dub foundations. Ben Thompson

The Fall: Cerebral Caustic (Per-manent, CD/LP/tape). The return of Mark E Smith's ex-wife Brix ushers in the most delightful Fall disc since the one before last. BT

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