James Blunt – ‘All The Lost Souls’

It’s too easy to have a go at James Blunt, so we’ll start with a compliment. The songs on his sophomore album, All The Lost Souls, are almost unnervingly catchy. Single ‘1973’ – a decent stab at a Coldplay-esque piano ballad – ‘Shine On’, and ‘Same Mistake’ will ensure that achieves the universal ubiquity that saw debut Back to Bedlam shift 14 million copies. If only he didn’t sing them like a pre-pubescent Eros Ramazotti with a bubble in his throat. Blunt’s earnest warbling has already gathered an army of fans; this slick follow-up is going to be enormous either way. What it won’t be is allowed in my house. The only consolation for a painful aural experience is that Blunt may be beginning to realise his awfulness: On Shine On, he sings: ‘Give me reason but don’t give me choice/ ‘cause I’ll just make the same mistake again.’ You said it, Jimbo.

Turin Brakes – ‘Dark on Fire’

It was only a matter of time before Turin Brakes upped the tempo. After three mellow, mainly acoustic albums – the first of which, The Optimist Up, was a hit in South Africa – singer songwriters Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian have produced an album that might be shelved alongside Starsailor. There are pianos, big choruses and the sort of guitar solos that seem aimed at leading big stadium clap-alongs. In fact, the album plays out much like the perfect big festival set. Opener ‘Last Chance’ will get the crowd bouncing, ‘Other Side’ – with its slide guitars and Pink Floyd pace – will have them swaying with eyes closed and lighters out, and ‘Bye Pod’ will give them a perfect song to make out to . With an attic full of old favourites to boot, Turin Brakes may finally have the repertoire to join the big boys. Forget Starsailor; we could have another Snow Patrol on our hands.

Midlake – ‘The Trials of Van Occupanther’

The current tendency for indie rock bands to produce instantly likeable albums that will keep them in converse and cigarettes has compromised their longevity. A hit or two in the first few tracks, a slick album cover and a good first video can ensure success. So it is a joy these days to come across a new release that takes ages to even understand, let alone be hooked by. The Trials of Van Occupanther is more a compilation of stories put to music than a list of songs; from mesmerising opener ‘Roscoe’ to the haunting ‘Branches’ to ‘Young Bride’, with its stripped down, rough drums and mournful fiddle. Hinting at but never mimicking such influences as Radiohead, Fleetwood Mac, John Lennon and Nick Drake, Midlake contrive a highly complex and deeply moving album that is as good as anything this year.

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