In case you forgot, or have been mining in Central America and somehow missed the news entirely, Sex Education returned to Netflix last Friday, 17 January 2020. For most of us, though, the show’s season two release date was marked in our calendars long before we remembered it was also someone’s birthday. Sorry Gran.
The show’s first season was praised for its honesty and inclusivity, approaching the deliciously awkward world of teenage sex in following the humility and hilarity encountered in its characters’ bedrooms. Covering sexual identities, desires, troubles and mistakes, Sex Education manages to tackle each question of ‘who am I?’ with poise, acceptance and – above all – humour.
Despite better intentions to savour the new season and its encompassing joy, I binged it. Like a small child wolfing down an entire Easter egg in one sitting, I gave in to self-indulgence and now it’s over too soon. Or so we thought.
As announced earlier this week, Ezra Furman is here to prolong our Sex Education high with today’s release of the show’s official soundtrack...
I bought a bike this year. She was a white, vintage-style old thing that I got for €60 off the French equivalent of Gumtree, and I felt very proud and European of my new mode of transport. I named her Nessa—after the Gavin and Stacey character, oui—and for several months she and I went zooming all over the gorgeous city of Nantes. It quickly turned out she wasn’t worth half that €60: the gears didn’t work, the brakes had a dangerous knack to them, and I frequently had to borrow a spanner to fix the handlebars, which had a nasty habit of moving mid-ride. The French for ‘spanner’ is ‘clé à molette’, in case you were wondering, and no, they don’t teach you that in school.
But I loved her anyway, quirks n all; she was my ride to work every morning, and my faithful companion home after a few sunset beers by the river. She and I were two peas in a two-wheeled pod, but we weren’t alone by any means: accompanying us on every trip was a compilation of tracks that came to define my time in Nantes. Billie Eilish’s ‘bury a friend’ put the attitude in altitude (steep hills and no gears is a vile pairing—10/10 would not recommend), James Blake would keep me going steady at night with ‘Don’t Miss It’, and ‘Feeling Lonely’ by Boy Pablo had me dancing in my pedals no matter how tired I felt.
One track sticks out, though, one that takes me back to Nessa in a heartbeat; Easy Life’s witty lyrics and lo-fi hip-hop feel soundtracked a huge portion of my time in Nantes, but their single ‘Frank’ was one I particularly vibed with. It made it onto several playlists I had going at the time, would be one I queued relentlessly, and always seemed to play on the same strip of road as I cycled to work...
From the off-set, Krystal sees Matt Maltese settle even further into the piano bar melancholy we fell in love with in Bad Contestant. Early ivory twinkles give the illusion of a cheerful, happy-go-lucky performer, one likely to burst suddenly into a cane-aided tap routine, but the sombre themes beneath this rosy surface remain the same: heartache, nostalgia, more heartache.
While much of the album carries Matt’s distinctive hotel-lounge sound quite neatly, ‘Tokyo’ is a pleasantly Beatles-esque surprise. Ditching the keys instead for an acoustic guitar, the track follows a confused and loved-up narrator (familiar) through three minutes of pure, unadulterated amour. And though it may be significantly less complex than other titles on the album (take the opener, ‘Rom-Com Gone Wrong’), it shows a real range from our own English Romeo. Naturally, it’s immediately followed by a slow, sultry tale of unrequited love, deliciously reminiscent of his early years. Classic.
But while romantic undertones may be found across the Maltese board, that’s by no means to say he hasn’t steadily progressed from his acclaimed debut...
he fireworks came early on Monday evening as Palace returned to Glasgow with a bang. Promoting the release of their latest album, Life After – a beautiful and progressive sophomore – the quartet received a hefty Scottish welcome in the church-turned-music-hub of St Luke’s.
It was, by all accounts, the perfect venue for them: sound echoed through every corner, filling the walls and rumbling through the wooden floorboards; you feel so close you’re practically in the music. With house lager at just £4 a pint (can I get a yee-haw), the crowd was as alive as it could be for a band singing about dying.
As for the performance itself, any hesitations I had swiftly dissolved. For a group whose sound isn’t necessarily what you’d call ‘upbeat’, I was prepared for a couple hours spent in the presence of four guys gently swaying behind their instruments. Not so. Emotive, tender and powerful, Palace did exactly what a band should do at a gig: they breathed life into their records. The source of most surprise (pleasant though it was) came undoubtedly from frontman Leo Wyndham – the dude sang like he might never sing again. Blasting out lyrics over an impressive range, delivering them with more heart and soul than we could have hoped for, it was truly difficult to unglue your eyes from him...
“Who even listens to guitar music anymore?” Dude, I hear you. After years of aggressively romantic twenty-somethings in white T-shirts, I was ready to throw in the towel on indie-rock. What more can these guys really do? Another Alex Turner wannabe? Lovely. Can we stick on BBC2 for a change?
It was getting a bit samey, as can be the nature of a genre if you only half-listen to what’s playing. But that’s not to say there aren’t a few remaining flowers in the muddy field of indie-rock: Glasgow-bred Declan Welsh has teamed up with The Decadent West to prove us all wrong. Their sound is varied, the music delicately composed; familiar, yes, but with just enough flare to set them apart. Put your synths away, sir, kindly pick up a Fender.
Gritty in parts, seductive in others, the band’s first album, Cheaply Bought, Expensively Sold, is a testament to the indie-rock we fell in love with before it all got too much. Sitting comfortably as the pendulum swings from upbeat to down-tempo, showcase anthem to bedroom overture, I’ll come right out and say it: it’s a joy to listen to...
To celebrate National Album Day, we’re going through the albums that mean something to us and telling the stories behind what makes them so special.
I like to think I have a broad scope for music, traversing both decades and genres in what has become a rather confused Spotify collection. Playlists a-plenty, of course, but I count myself as a big believer in the strength of a well-thought-out LP. Running themes and song reprises make me want to do cartwheels on the side of the road; I would fight a mighty dragon for the fair hand of a ‘concept album’. Luckily, we’re not short of them: artists have been desperate to prove they can pull it off ever since The Beatles started the trend with Sgt Pepper back in ’67, with varying success among them. I’ve browsed the board, partial to many, but no album has ever branded itself into my heart quite so deeply as Lord Huron’s sophomore LP, Strange Trails.
In an unknown land, somewhere between the barriers of life and death, fiction and reality, we join Lord Huron on a journey out West. Driving through the night, heart-broken and lost, we enter a world of distinctive characters and profound magic: men come back from the dead, hell-bent on revenge as they roam the desert; romantics pick fights and trek for miles through dangerous terrain; mortals play with dark forces and suffer the consequences.
While fictional in many aspects, there is no struggle to be had in relating to the album’s recurring themes: lust, love, fury, heartache. Haven’t we all at some point felt as though under some unshakable spell, no longer in our right minds at the hands of a lover? ...
August is upon us: summer has passed her prime; normality and routine loom just beyond the corner of our calendars. And just as we feel like the best of the season is over, Bon Iver graces us with something truly worth falling for.
Expectations were high for i,i, Bon Iver’s fourth album to-be, which was originally set for release at the end of this month. Instead, the group surprised us all across streaming platforms last Friday morning (9 August 2019), gradually dripping in each of the LP’s remaining tracks. Almost three years since their last album, i,i brings the project round in full circle, according to the band itself: “from the winter of For Emma, Forever Ago came the frenetic spring of Bon Iver, Bon Iver, and the unhinged summer of 22, A Million. Now, fall arrives early with i,i.”
What once began forever ago as the solo project of a heartbroken Justin Vernon has since evolved into one of the most exquisite collaborative works around – a progression which is almost palpable. Without ever overdoing it, the production on i,i is simply formidable; breaking even further away from the raw, folksy sound of For Emma, Forever Ago, Vernon & co. opt instead for a fuller, more layered composition...