Paul Westerberg: Suicaine Gratifaction (EMI) The third solo album from the former leader of the Replacements is co-produced by Don Was, who calls it a "record that has solidly good writing throughout, where every line has value and there's not a wasted word." He's biased, but he's right.
Add N To (X): Avant Hard (Mute) The title of Add N To (X)'s second album seems to be a challenge, in keeping with the band's forbiddingly artistic reputation: are you cerebral enough to appreciate them? I'm relieved to report, then, that Avant Hard is not hard going at all. The London-based trio make fun instrumentals, overlaying the bloops and squelches of aged analogue synthesisers with honking car horns, twanging rulers, neighing horses and spooky sampled strings - not forgetting the poppy tunes and jazz-rock drums. A few of the vertiginous highlights are the symphonic "Revenge of the Black Regent"; the Jean- Michel-Jarre-meets-the-Chemical-Brothers disco of "Metal Fingers In My Body", and the sinister prettiness - and whistling - of "Machine is Bored With Love". Avant Hard could be Air remixed by Fatboy Slim.