Music round-up: Jack White, Rufus Wainwright, Perfume Genius, Beach House

I’ve been having heretical thoughts about Jack White and Rufus Wainwright recently – for artists with their depth of talent, hasn’t it been rather a while since they made properly great albums? (For White I’m saying ‘Elephant’, maybe ‘Get Behind Me Satan’ at a push; for Wainwright we might be going all the way back to ‘Poses’. Other and better opinions are available.)

Following the collapse of The White Stripes and White’s marriage, the general theme of ‘Blunderbuss’ is that women done Jack wrong, which I thought was a fairly familiar theme in male songwriting, but according to this particularly boneheaded piece of criticism is final proof of White’s misogyny. Anyway, the album’s had terrific reviews, because we all love Jack and yearn for him to be back on very top form, but I’m not convinced it’s quite as good as that. It’s the best of his non-White Stripes albums, let’s put it that way. Meantime with ‘Out Of The Game’ Rufus has made his finest album for years, a lovely, relaxed set of superior pop songs, with Mark Ronson applying a little production magic.

Two further recommendations: Perfume Genius’s fragile, self-lacerating piano ballads make ‘Put Your Back N 2 It’ an uncomfortable but thrilling album. And the makers of my favourite album of 2010, Beach House, are back. “I hate it when bands change between records”, said Alex Scally recently. So if you liked ‘Teen Dream’, you’ll like ‘Myth’. Beach House perhaps still aren’t big big – although ‘Myth’ charted at number 3 in America, which isn’t small – but their success has come with a price. Their sound is now sufficiently identifiable and marketable that, when they refused to licence ‘Take Care’ from ‘Teen Dream’ to Volkswagen’s UK arm to use in a TV commercial, the car company’s ad agency commissioned their own, um, “tribute”. So Beach House are now going through the tedious, distracting, and possibly ruinously costly business of seeing whether they have any legal remedies available. (Nor is this just Beach House being all prissy and indie – Guinness did things the right way.) Hope Beach House beat the fuckers, although sadly I doubt that they will.

Coming soon: reviews of The Walkmen, Hot Chip, and the mighty Japandroids.


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