ALBUM REVIEWS

Flaming Lips `The Soft Bulletin' (Warner Bros)

Hurray for the F'Lips! The Oklahoma City guys have been pouring out chemical daydream rock since the mid-Eighties and now release their most commercial work while managing to retain their bizarre charm. A beautiful mongrel of a masterpiece and probably the album of the year. HHHHH

Moby `Play' (Mute)

Our little New York boffin turns his back on banging techno and banging metal to bring an album of blues'n'beats featuring samples from many old- field recordings. It comes unstuck occasionally but the more it's played, the more endearing its ambient qualities become. HHHH

Texas `Hush' (Mercury)

Sharlene Spiteri and co's fifth album adheres to a familiar formula of Seventies soul with a few contemporary twists. It may not be groundbreaking yet it's littered with potential singles and is bound to sell several squillion copies. HHHH

The Pretenders `Viva El Amor' (WEA)

Earlier this year those other New Wave favourites, Blondie, released an absolutely appalling comeback album, but Chrissie Hynde's first effort for five years is as sharp and polished as ever. It's a must for every fan of the band and maybe even a few others besides. HHH

Cast `Magic Hour' (Polydor)

Maybe Cast, now on their third album, should pay a visit to Ms Spiteri and/or Ms Hynde for lessons in how to make safe rock music seem a little fresh. This has its moments, especially on the slower tracks, but there's little here to bother anyone but existing fans. HH

SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Sugar Ray `Every Morning' (Lava/Atlantic)

Sounding like Jonathan Richman tailored for an MTV audience, Sugar Ray have delivered another most catchy single. Dare you not to sing the line "Every morning there's a halo hanging from the corner of my girlfriend's four-post bed" after listening to this! HHHH

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