Phoebe Raine, Tom Sampson and Gemma Cockrell
As we leave 2020 behind us, Impact has come together to share our reviews of the big albums that were released that year. In this article, we look at albums that were released in October and November.
October – The Struts
The Struts – Strange Days (Phoebe Raine):
Mainly upbeat rock with enough guitar riffs to keep your air guitar sessions going for hours
British rock band The Struts blessed our lockdown with their third album Strange Days, littered with references to the pandemic and the usual mix of lead singer Luke Spiller showing off. This album, unlike the past two, has a large number of collaborations, notably Strange Days with Robbie Williams (yes, Robbie is still out and about!) and I hate how much I want you with Phil Collen and Joe Elliott from Def Leppard (how they swung that I’m still in awe).
This album is pretty much like their last one in style, mainly upbeat rock with enough guitar riffs to keep your air guitar sessions going for hours. It’s no discussion that the songs are catchy, and they are classic Struts style, ignoring Strange Day which is perhaps the most COVID-relevant but the least Struts of the lot, but we’ll blame Robbie for that…
Whilst I wanted more from this album as their other two have shown off their talents (and they really are talented) in different and exciting ways, you can’t knock the solidity of it. It’s a rock album more gentle than most of AC/DC but has tracks like Wild Child with Tom Morello (yup, Rage Against the Machine Tom Morello) which quench the thirst for the deeper, flirty rock the Struts have mastered.
Overall, Strange Days is not what I wanted, but what I got was something I’m still happy to belt out loud to, especially All Dressed Up (With Nowhere To Go) as I dance in the uni kitchen in my abandoned boat party clothes.
November – Miley Cyrus and McFly
Miley Cyrus – Plastic Hearts (Tom Sampson):
Plastic Hearts is Miley Cyrus’ Seventh studio album, following a minor resurgence with her sixth album Younger Now after Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz didn’t chart anywhere. With this, Miley does seem to have been doing some refashioning of her image, after her drastic shift from country/pop routes to a more pop/punk aesthetic in the early 2010’s.
The album doesn’t flow together neatly, songs jump from mood to mood
Plastic Hearts feels like it’s a realisation and marrying of these two sides of her, with a nice electro/pop/rock sound akin to that of a Lady Gaga. The sound I personally felt is placed next to Born This Way the album, especially tracks like Midnight Sky. While the songs do have more of the attitude of anarchy that we have come to expect from Miley, there are also plenty of sides to this album with solipsistic, introverted qualities that you might expect from country music.
As a non-shuffled experience, the album doesn’t flow together neatly, songs jump from mood to mood. But an overall journey does feel as if it has taken place, one that’s like the stages of grief. There’s a sense that to Miley the world of fame has died for her and all its charms are lost, but despite that she realises that she fits in best as the anarchic troublemaker we know her as now.
There are also a fair few songs which I’ve nicked from the album for my own playlists and saved songs. So, if the album experience isn’t for you there’s a nice diversity of punky pop songs in there which I would consider worth it all on their own.
McFly – Young Dumb Thrills (Gemma Cockrell):
10 long years since the release of their last studio album Above The Noise, McFly return following their hiatus with Young Dumb Thrills. A band who have had a tumultuous, turbulent, but insanely successful career, their latest album oozes with contentment, alongside sing-a-long choruses and pop-punk electric guitar. This is evident from the moment you press play – you are welcomed by two love songs, the boldly-titled lead-single and album opener, Happiness, followed by the self-aware Another Song About Love.
While there are plenty of references to their current contentment, they also tackle topics of nostalgia and rebellious youth. Mad About You is a ukulele-driven track, with smooth, polished vocals, that in classic McFly style, have a reassuring Americanised hint to them.
Growing Up, which features pop-punk legend Mark Hoppus, is a high-octane, up-tempo electric-guitar track, sonically reminiscent of the McFly of the previous decade, but more pop-punk than ever before – a sound which Dougie Poynter’s vocals suit very well. Additionally, Danny Jones’ vocals on slow-burning ballads Sink or Sing and Like I Can are stronger than ever before.
There is truly something for everyone on this record
Title track Young Dumb Thrills sees a guest appearance from RAT BOY, and lyrically expresses the band’s desire to replicate the nostalgic and thrilling feelings of youth. Despite the track having some lyrics which may deemed as disingenuous coming from men of their mid-30’s, the track has a catchy, infectious melody and deserves its place on the track-list.
Young Dumb Thrills sees McFly resurge in the most positive mindset they’ve been in for a long time, a natural progression seeing as 3 out of 4 members are now married with children. There is truly something for everyone on this record, a strong comeback for one of the most well-loved band of the 21st century.
Phoebe Raine, Tom Sampson and Gemma Cockrell
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