In the music world January marks a dearth of newness as labels await their spring releases. It’s a time of relative quiet in the industry and an opportune time to look at what’s coming up. The year 2009 is shaping up to be an exciting year, especially for music that may be of interest to the queer community.
First up: Lily Allen. Allen entered the music scene back in 2006 with a handful of spritely, catchy pop singles and an accompanying debut album Alright, Still. She proved to be more than just another bratty pop star; songs like “Smile,” “Knock ’Em Out” and “LDN” were a breath of fresh air. Allen’s sardonic delivery coupled with sunny melodies were an instant hit and the supremacy (at the time) of MySpace propelled her into the spotlight.
Three years later, and after numerous delays, Allen is ready to release her second disc, the hotly anticipated It’s Not Me, It’s You. Preceded by the single “The Fear” and its brilliant “Lily in Wonderland” music video, the album continues along the same path of sharp lyrics and keen observations, albeit presented in a slightly less retro, more pop and electronic way. Allen has called the sound “bigger” and one listen to “Everyone’s At It,” another track from the album, proves it. From the country influences on “Not Fair” to the girl pop of “22” to the ode to George W Bush, appropriately titled “Fuck You,” the album is full of catchy choruses, great beats and resonant messages. It’s Not Me, It’s You is out Tue, Feb 10.
Pet Shop Boys, the iconic duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, is set to release its new album in March, entitled Yes. The last release, 2006’s Fundamental, was a sombre yet beautiful affair, all strings, melancholy and even slightly political (“I’m with Stupid,” an open letter of disgust to George W Bush and Tony Blair). Politics seem to have been left in the dust on Yes, which is being described as “a proper pop album.” Recorded last year with producers extraordinaire Xenomania, the 11-track opus will certainly have the duo back at the top of the pop charts where they belong (in Europe anyway. Here, they are eternally sequestered to the dance chart).
In typical Pet Shop Boys style there are some fantastic song titles, including “Pandemonium” (“A song about your partner causing mayhem whenever they turn up but being quite loveable nonetheless”) and “All over the World” (“a mid-tempo but euphoric celebration of music and love with irresistible handclap action and a Tchaikovsky sample”). With a return to form, the group’s knack for irresistible, intelligent pop and a gift for crafting fantastic remixes expect to hear the Pet Shop Boys on the dancefloors this year. Fitting, really, as Tennant and Lowe are receiving the Outstanding Contribution to Music award next month at the Brit Awards. Yes is released on Tue, Mar 24.
Irish rockers U2 are undeniably the ultimate rock band of our age. They lived the rock dream, emerging from working-class Dublin, Ireland at exactly the right time, shaking up the Day-Glo 1980s with their brand of rally-and-cry socially ethical rock music. The group conquered America, as every rock band wants to, and even filmed it for posterity (see 1988’s Rattle and Hum). Following that U2 retreated to Europe to produce some of its best and weirdest, music ever (refer to 1991’s Achtung Baby and its follow-up 1993’s Zooropa), started releasing dance mixes and even experimented with drag (see the video for “One,” a cryptic and gorgeous song, which after seeing the video, many people believed to be about a gay man coming out to his father. A huge chunk of the profits were also given to AIDS charities).
Drummer Larry Mullen Jr (the cute guy at the back) also won my devotion when he replied “Probably” to the question “Do you think George Bush is a war criminal?” It’s hard to disparage these guys, even though their fan base seems to be almost entirely made up of thirtysomething white men who work in the financial sector. U2 stopped being hip eons ago, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. U2’s new disc, No Line on the Horizon, is the first album since 2004’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, and this has been the longest gap between U2 albums ever, so interest is definitely piqued.
The group’s Canadian producer Daniel Lanois was quoted by Le Journal de Montreal as saying that the new album will push the limits of the sound arena much like Achtung Baby did in 1991, stating, “I think we can safely say it’s one of the great, innovative records from U2.”
No Line on the Horizon is out Tue, Mar 3 and the new single “Get on Your Boots” is available now.