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Indie review February 2024: The best songs and albums

Our five favourite indie albums and nine favourite indie songs released in February 2024 - featuring IDLES, The Last Dinner Party, Vampire Weekend and more!



Welcome to the second edition of a new blog which takes a look at the best new indie music released from the month that’s just been.


Like January, February has been another busy one for indie artists releasing new music. Without further ado, here are our picks for the best of the albums and songs of the month.


 

Albums


IDLES - 'TANGK'



Bristol punks IDLES are back again with TANGK - the boys are loved up and on a mission to further their sound progression without losing their distinctive boisterousness. As a follow-up to 2021’s CRAWLER, the newly discovered terrain marks it their most accomplished record yet.


One name who lent their hand to co-production duties this time round is Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich. And his touch is most apparent on album opener ‘IDEA 01’ - an intriguing and atmospheric piano-led track which sounds like something from the Oxfordshire band’s ambient King Of Limbs sessions.


The first half of TANGK is defined by slow burning and intricacy. The trip-hop beats on ‘POP POP POP’ expand IDLES focus even further, later bringing in eerie electronics and finishing on a manipulated “love is the thing” vocal, while ’A Gospel’ is, again, piano-led and beautifully tender.


‘Gift Horse’ is as belligerent and bold as the band get here. “Look at him go!” exclaims Talbot within the explosive chorus and hints back to their rebellious past by later singing “F*** the king / He ain’t the king / She’s the king!”. Meanwhile, playful ‘Dancer’ is bound to rival ‘Danny Nedelko’ and ‘Mother’ as a live, singalong favourite. 


The criticisms placed on 2020’s Ultra Mono led the band to draw a line in the sand and two albums on we’re now reaping the benefits. That’s not to say earlier fans will feel alienated, there’s just more going on now to also hook in new fans: as much new terrain is explored as pulsating old ground. All in all it reveals an unpredictable voyage from what was once Britain’s most predictable band. The perfect combination of their boisterous past and the experimental direction they’re moving in. (Words by Matthew McLister)



 

The Last Dinner Party - 'Prelude To Ecstasy'



Perhaps the most hyped indie album in some time, it was easy to be cynical of the hype machine surrounding these BBC Sound of 2024 winners. Honestly, some of the early singles didn’t justify such acclaim (in my humble opinon, of course!), but after hearing The Last Dinner Party’s debut in full, I’ve slowly come around to them. 


The production throughout is particularly lush, and to their credit, is pretty fun for the most part. While the likes of ‘Caesar On A TV Screen’ and ‘Lady Of Mercy’ are still pretty ambivalent sounding for me, its the substance of the album tracks that has warmed me to them. Particularly the ominous riffs on ‘Burn Alive’, the tender piano ballad ‘On Your Side’, ‘Portrait of A Dead Girl' with it’s Pink Floyd-esque solo and the epic, Morricone-inspired finale ‘Mirror’. I’ve even warmed to their signature tune ‘Nothing Matters’ which finds its place well as a euphoric penultimate track. 


A focused band with a style that certainly has captured the imagination of fans of British indie. Now I’m starting to get it, so please forgive me for being late to this particular (dinner) party. (Words by Matthew McLister)



 

Declan McKenna - 'What Happened To The Beach?'



Four years on from Declan McKenna’s last album Zeros, the London-born singer-songwriter has advanced his sound again on What Happened To The Beach? – sun-kissed Californian self-indulgence very much the new order of the day.


Less breathless, super fun and lightly psychedelic, the London singer’s third effort is surrounded by a warm glow of West Coast sunshine - as heard on wonky indie folk opener ‘WOBBLE’, as well as the Tame Impala inspired ‘Mulholland’s Dinner and Wine’ and ‘Elevator Hum’. The album’s best section is by part the midpoint and tracks like ‘Nothing Matters’ and ‘The Phantom Buzz (Kick In)’ which pack a punch of energetic psych-rock.


McKenna admits he felt pressured – both by fans and record executives – to neglect his own intuition on his third album. And the rejection of such feedback can’t fail but gain him extra kudos. His third is a fun yet wonderfully composed record that sounds radically different to what he’s produced before. If a little odd at points with a dialling down of immediacy, patience is required to fully appreciate the pay-off. (Words by Matthew McLister)



 

The Snuts - 'Millennials'



This release might not have the political or social edge that their previous two albums possessed but it doesn't matter. What does is that's it thirty minutes of feel-good anthems, something we could all do with in the current climate of doom and perpetual gloom.


Also the fact that they've done their own thing after leaving their record company is further reason to celebrate Millennials. Tunes like 'Novastar' and 'Yoyo' are glorious while 'Circles' is as beautiful track as you'll hear all year. Don't be surprised to see them hit the mainstream. (Words by Neil Renton)

 

 

MGMT - 'Loss Of Life'



It may only have come out last week (23 February), but MGMT's latest album has been one I've been obsessing over the past few days. Folky, dreamy, emotive, psychedelic... a lot is going on on Andrew VanWayngarden and Ben Goldwasser's fifth studio album.


Friend of the blog Chris Connor reviewed Loss Of Life for Stereoboard and summarised the record as follows:


"Loss of Life’ is certainly among MGMT’s most ambitious projects and is all the better for it. It is remarkable to think this is the same group who once chiefly made indie disco anthems but here they display creative depth and musicality to draw on a number of sonic preoccupations and blend them seamlessly. It was certainly worth the wait."

 

Songs

 

Kings of Leon - 'Mustang'



Hands up if you felt that the Clan Followill too themselves too serious? Keep your hand raised if you felt they'd never recover from the success of 2008’s Only By The Night? Well, prepare to be shocked. Kings of Leon are back with a song as majestic as anything they've done since the likes of 'Sex On Fire' made it to the top of the charts. The video is a series of speedily cut scenes of a city while the band play. It's fun and doesn't make sense and there's nothing wrong with that. (Words by Neil Renton)


 

Vampire Weekend - 'Capricorn'



Continuing on the theme of anticipated returns is the new one from Vampire Weekend. The New York baroque-pop band dropped two new singles in February - ‘Capricorn’ and ‘Gen-X Cops’ - upon announcing their first album in five years, Only God Was Above Us. Where the latter mentioned track takes on a more energised, punk approach, ‘Capricorn’ is the more mellow of the two, projecting an uplifting yet reflective vibe through both the lyrics and melodically. Boy is it good to have these guys guys back! (Words by Matthew McLister)



 

Catfish and the Bottlemen - 'Showtime'



They're BACK! Well, Van McCann is. There's not be a lot of talk on whose actually in the band nowadays but it sounds as if whoever is still in the group was too busy throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the new material. There's a vein that flows in a similar style lyrically to the likes of fan favourites like '7' but there's also a lot of production on this number. Glimpses of the former glory that had them headlining Leeds and Reading after a hiatus alongside the new found love of Americana. And bagpipes. (Words by Neil Renton)


 

DIIV - 'Brown Paper Bag'



Brooklyn shoegazers DIIV recently announced the release of their fourth album Frog In Boiling Water and dropped a new track in the process. ‘Brown Paper Bag’ is another dreamy and dark shoegaze effort which excellently trudges along as a rainy day rock anthem. Amazingly, its been five years since their last album Deceiver which also followed a similarly darkened palette and theme of melancholy to contract to the brightness offered on sophomore Is The Is Are. I was really feeling the moody vibe on this one - another lovely little taster of what’s to come. (Words by Matthew McLister)


 

Everything Everything - 'The End of the Contender'



Everything Everything will release their 7th studio album Mountainhead on Friday 1 March. Its third lead single, ‘The End of the Contender’, couples lead singer Jonathan Higgs’ distinct vocal falsetto with lovely synths. This one sounds like it has been part of their discography since forever.


One of the art-rock band’s biggest strengths lies in lyrical cleverness, coining unique phrases that become as well known as gameshow host catchphrases. Perhaps with this one though, it is the subject matter that stands out. The band said this one was inspired by the viral “I’m Ronnie Pickering!” video. If that doesn’t make you check this song out, I’m not sure what will… (Words by Josh Robinson)


 

TTSSFU - 'Studio 54'



'Studio 54' is the breathtaking new single from Manchester-based multi-instrumentalist Tasmin Nicole Stephens, aka TTSSFU. Her latest begins with a pounding bassline, before raising us into the clouds for a stunningly ethereal track. The song's protagonist longs for a man called Andy amidst several layers of atmospheric keys and heavenly vocals, recalling the project's key shoegaze influences like Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine. On ‘Studio 54', TTSSFU decidedly whets our appetites for the release of her debut EP Me, Jed and Andy later this month. (Words by Matthew McLister)


 

Sunstinger - 'Endless June'



Ok, so I’m cheating a little bit with this one. Technically ‘Endless June’ was released in January, but I only heard the song in February so that still counts, right? A song worthy of highlighting, anyway! I’ve been following this Dunfermline-based post-punk/shoegaze band since their outstanding Beyond the Frame EP in 2021 and love their sound so much I feel the need to spread the word at any given opportunity. The lead single to their anticipated sophomore EP Worthless carries a theme of finding solace in your own misery. Another epic wall of guitars, explosive choruses and textured soundscapes. Like their work from three years ago, I’m absolutely gripped again by ‘Endless June’ and so should you. (Words by Matthew McLister)


 

Real Estate - 'Flowers'



On the eve of releasing their sixth album, Real Estate released ‘Flowers’. Another slice of summery, jangle pop self-described by the band as “the closest Real Estate will ever get to like a Shania Twain style country rocker”. The third single to Daniel is close in style to the preceding preview singles to continue their winning, blissful jangle-pop formula, sounding befitting for the longer days and season change into spring. The New Jersey band’s sound is usually one for sunny days by the coast, though you get the impression here that their Nashville recording setting has worn off on them - just check out the country-inspired guitar solo! (Words by Matthew McLister)


 

Red Rum Club - 'Daisy'



Red Rum Club shortly embark on a UK tour which features a homecoming show at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena in April. They will be armed with their fourth studio album ‘Western Approaches’.

The band have honed their trademark trumpet-utilising sound over recent years, making them a radiating, energetic band.


One of my favourites on this freshly released, strong LP that builds on their recognisable style is ‘Daisy’.

This may be hidden down the track list at number 9, but it still leaves a mark. The chorus has a momentum to it that is addictive and leaves you humming its melody hours after listening. (Words by Josh Robinson)

 

For the best tunes of each month, listen to our Best indie songs of the month 2024 playlist below.



 

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ASC Group
ASC Group
Mar 08

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