February indie review: alt-J, Gang Of Youths, White Lies, Sea Power & more
A look at the best albums released in February 2022 from White Lies, Bastille, Sea Power, alt-J, Gang Of Youths, SPINN, Mitski, NewDad and Black Country, New Road.
Honestly, there's been so many great albums out this month it's almost been overwhelming!
The music has come thick and fast over the past month with a host of big indie releases to get the year started. Afraid you've missed anything? Here's a look at the best indie album and single releases.
The Dream by alt-J
What an excellent return this was from alt-J, who, again, proved why they're still one of indie's most unique and interesting bands a decade after their debut.
The Dream is the brilliant fourth album from the Leeds art-rockers, finding success in impactful pop-focused songs and more meandering, darker tracks. It's more American focused than earlier releases, as they take through a range of themes from cryptocurrency ('Hard Drive Gold'), failed dreams ('The Actor') and death bed memories ('Get Better').
alt-J hit the target more than they miss, The Dream leaving you feeling reflective and yet, somehow, optimistic.
You can read my full thoughts on the record by visiting my review: Alt-J: Fourth album 'The Dream' sounds like a hopeful nightmare.
Rating - 9/10
Best three tracks: U&ME, The Actor, Chicago
Ants From Up There by Black Country, New Road
Here's one that knocked our socks off this month! I must admit I actively despised their debut record For The First Time. It just felt too abrasive and claustrophobic, so it's to their credit that Black Country, New Road completely won us over with their second. The fact it came in the wake of lead singer Isaac Wood's departure from the band due to mental health issues gave it an extra layer of poignancy.
Neil Renton was similarly enthralled by the record in his review, summarising his new found love for the band:
"A multi-talented, mixed gender, multi-instrument collection. But done with a sense of eccentricity belonging to Britain. Suddenly they make sense. I get them. I really get them. Beautifully messy. Exhilarating. Nothing wasted. The six remaining members have vowed to continue. Whatever happens with Black Country, New Road and Wood they’ve created not just a contender for the album of the year. They’ve created a masterpiece."
You can read Neil's full thoughts on the record in his review: Black Country New Road: 'Ants From Up There' is a chaotic masterpiece.
Best three tracks - Chaos Space Marine, Snow Globes, Basketball Shoes
angel in realtime by Gang of Youths
Gang of Youths were always one band that passed me by, enjoying their live set at TRNSMT in 2018 and enjoying the odd single I'd heard on Radio 1, so I was excited to finally give into their third studio album.
Angel in realtime is a highly emotional collection of songs written in the aftermath of frontman Dave Le'aupepe's father's death. He takes an opportunity to mourn and investigate his father's life, a son questioning his old man's legacy and coming to terms with new truths. At over 67 minutes, the Sydney band do outstay its welcome on more than one occasion, which dropped a couple of points for us, but there's plenty here that I found intriguing!
You can read my full thoughts on the record in my review: ‘Angel In Realtime’ review – Dave Le’aupepe mourns his father’s passing.
Rating - 7.5/10
Best three tracks: in the wake of your leave, the angel of 8th ave., tend the garden
As I Try Not To Fall Apart by White Lies
It's hard to imagine now, but White Lies 2008 debut To Lose My Life... was pretty massive upon release, the mainstream indie world moved slowly towards a darker, more introspective sound. Whilst it was undercooked in many areas, the main singles were beautifully cinematic, gloomy and, yet, wonderfully radio-friendly.
After a disappointing second record, I'll be honest and admit I gave the London band little attention in the following years. So imagine my surprise when I heard the brilliant singles 'Am I Really Going To Die' and 'I Don't Want To Go To Mars', forcing us to give this band consideration again. The new album itself is their most coherent record yet, full of big hooks, spine-tingling bleakness and grand indie bangers.
Best Three Tracks: I Don't Want To Go To Mars, Am I Really Going To Die, As I Try Not To Fall Apart
Everything Was Forever by Sea Power
Now 22 years into their career, Sea Power are still going strong, providing us with their first new music in five years with the release of eighth album Everything Was Forever. The Berkshire band have really knocked it out of the park again with their latest, a beautiful melancholy running throughout.
They may have grabbed headlines for recently dropping the "British" part of their name, but they've delivered one of the most stunning rock albums of the year so far and this is far more worthy of attention.
New Mexico based music writer Kiley Larson summarised why he felt it was their best album in over a decade:
"By playing to their strengths, Sea Power has made the most radio-friendly record of their career, like the post-punk tenseness of “Doppelganger,” which finds the veteran band in a more intriguing state than anything on Yard Act’s overhyped debut. At the same time, Sea Power has never had their proper due, especially here in the States, and it always seems criminal that this band isn’t massive. Their journeys to this side of the Atlantic are rare, but I’ve been fortunate enough to see them twice. Maybe it has been a decade-plus, but their stadium-sized energy in front of a few hundred people is something you never forget."
You can read more on Kiley's Check This Out review: Back With an Updated Name, Sea Power Pick up Where They Left off With the Majestic Everything Was Forever.
Best three tracks: Folly, Green Goddess, Two Fingers
Give Me The Future by Bastille
Our writer Josh Robinson was won over by the London indie-pop band's fourth album. Summarising why he felt compelled to spread the word on Bastille's latest, he stated:
"All in all, this is a very decent LP. The album tracks perhaps don’t jump out as essential listening as much as I would like, I must admit. But importantly they still play their role as key components, complimenting the bigger hits and allowing them to shine.
It is a proper album in the sense that it is about the sum of its parts all delivering to make a consistent all-round listen. There are no weak songs, and there is arguably no filler as the three interludes are all purposeful.
I am thankful that my mate let me know about this record as I would have almost certainly either missed its release or shrugged my shoulders when realising its presence. It seems that Give Me The Future has just made me unable to ignore Bastille any longer."
You can read more of Josh's thoughts in his full Give Me The Future review.
Other albums worth checking out
This month has been absolutely stacked with great music that a few may have initially slipped under the radar. Here are a couple more worthy of attention.
Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski delivered her fantastic sixth studio album Laurel Hell on 4 February, with the synthpop tune 'The Only Heartbreaker' being the highlight.
SPINN's second album Outside Of The Blue felt like the perfect Friday listening upon it's release earlier in the month. It's full of upbeat, jangly indie bangers to brighten your day.
And finally, Galway's NewDad are a band I've been following closely for the past year so was really excited by their latest EP Banshee. Full of introspective shoegaze tunes, it's one I didn't struggle to get lost in.
For my favourite new album, I'll go for alt-J's The Dream, though extra props to Black Country, New Road who completely won us over with their second album Ants From Up There!
As for the best new single, it has to be Fontaines D.C's new one 'I Love You' - so wonderfully bleak! Credit also to Jack White's new one 'Fear Of The Dawn', I simply couldn't get enough of this banger.
Did you agree or disagree with any of the above? Feel free to agree or berate me @BFloodlights.
Want to be kept in the loop with new, regularly updated indie tunes? Check out the 2022 Blinded by the Floodlights indie recommendations playlist. All the tracks mentioned above feature.