The Listener

Make Status Quo sound like Stockhausen: AC/DC's Power Up reviewed

5 December 2020 9:00 am

Grade: C The fear is this: you’re wearing a leather jacket and hipster jeans and think you look cool, but…

Turn it up and feel the walls shake: John Wilson's Respighi reviewed

21 November 2020 9:00 am

Grade: A The strings rear up, there’s a flash of steel from the trumpets, and ten seconds into Respighi’s Feste…

I’ve heard worse things — the death rattle of a close relative, for example: Kylie’s Disco reviewed

14 November 2020 9:00 am

Grade: B– Uh-oh. Might have to be careful here, pull my punches a little bit. The editor is a big…

The sound of pop eating itself and throwing up: A.G. Cook’s Apple reviewed

3 October 2020 9:00 am

Grade: A The future, then. The sound of pop eating itself, throwing up into a bag and then getting a…

More mimsy soft rock from Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman 2 reviewed

26 September 2020 9:00 am

Grade: B– Time has been kind to Cat Stevens’s reputation — his estrangement from the music business and rad BAME…

Virtuosic but slight – always prog’s problem: The Pineapple Thief's latest reviewed

19 September 2020 9:00 am

Grade: B– Of all the various subdivisions in that wheezing and crippled phenomenon that we call rock music, prog has…

There's scarcely a dull track: Deep Purple's Whoosh! reviewed

15 August 2020 9:00 am

Grade: B+ Less deep purple than a pleasant mauve. Ageing headbangers will note a lack of the freneticism that distinguished…

Fine tunes and spacey, quiet grandeur: Taylor Swift’s Folklore reviewed

1 August 2020 9:00 am

Grade: A- This is worrying — like listening to a speech by David Lammy and finding yourself, against your better…

Ranges from the slight to the first-rate: Neil Young’s Homegrown reviewed

11 July 2020 9:00 am

Grade: B+ Neil Young has been mining his own past very profitably for a long time now, disinterring a seemingly…

Contains the loveliest new song I've heard in decades: Bob Dylan's new album reviewed

27 June 2020 9:00 am

Grade: A ‘Rough’ in terms of the mostly spoken vocals, but only ‘rowdy’ if you’re approaching your 80th birthday, which…

Skates on the edge of parody: The 1975's Notes on a Conditional Form reviewed

6 June 2020 9:00 am

Grade: B+ Just what you wanted. An opening track that matches banal piano noodling to an address by Greta Thunberg.…

Beautiful voice, pretentious album: Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters reviewed

9 May 2020 9:00 am

Grade: C+ Where did they all come from, the quirky yet meaningful rock chicks who don’t have a decent song…

Haunting and beautiful: Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus’s Songs of Yearning reviewed

11 April 2020 9:00 am

Grade: A It has taken 33 years — during which time this decidedly strange Liverpool collective have put out only…

The last great purveyors of a vanishing art form: Green Day’s Fathers of All... reviewed

7 March 2020 9:00 am

Grade: B+ It is an eternal mystery to me why Britain has never had much time for power pop, seeing…

Grimes has talent – but not for writing songs: Miss Anthropocene reviewed

29 February 2020 9:00 am

Grade: B The old axiom no longer applies. In modern popular music, it is possible not only to gild a…

The rancid meanderings of a long-spent wankpuffin: Justin Bieber’s Changes reviewed

21 February 2020 10:00 pm

Grade: D– For my first review of popular music releases in 2020 I thought I’d deposit this large vat of…

The cult of Trifonov is doing the pianist no favours

16 November 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B– Deutsche Grammophon have decided that Daniil Trifonov’s new Rachmaninov piano concertos with the Philadephia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin…

Woke slogans welded to incompetent grunge: Neil Young’s Colorado reviewed

9 November 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B- Horribly woke boilerplate slogans welded inexpertly to the usual incompetent Crazy Horse grunge. Young and his pick-up band…

Patently insincere: Kanye’s Jesus is King reviewed

2 November 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B– Kanye West has found Jesus Christ. Lucky old Christ. If I were Christ I’d have hidden out a…

Imagine ZZ Top stuck in a lift with Gary Numan: Sturgill Simpson’s Sound & Fury reviewed

12 October 2019 9:00 am

Grade: A– The outlaw country genre has shifted a little over the decades since Waylon and Willie, with each proponent…

Proggery beyond parody: Iggy Pop’s Free reviewed

28 September 2019 9:00 am

Grade: D+ Pleasant memories — of hearing ‘Raw Power’ for the first time and later the amiably shambolic chug of…

Great title – shame about the songs: Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell reviewed

7 September 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B+ Get the razor blades out, Ms Misery is back. Only the truly affluent can immerse themselves in such…

Needed a shot of Stolichnaya: The Tchaikovsky Project reviewed

31 August 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B+ I’m not sure about ‘Projects’. Aren’t those what ageing rockers produce, in a haze of sedatives, when their…

Reliably odd but the deranged proggery grates: King’s Mouth by The Flaming Lips reviewed

10 August 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B- So a queen dies as her giant baby is being born. The baby grows very big indeed and…

Hideously tasteful elegies to useless country singers: Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars reviewed

6 July 2019 9:00 am

Grade: B– The first Springsteen song I ever heard was ‘Born To Run’, back when I was 14. I clocked…