The best album releases of the month, May 2013

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It is proving to be a thankless task to divide this year into 12 chunks. Strong releases just keep coming, so much so that the months are running into each other, and also it is has been hard to whittle May's albums into a tidy 10. Once again I've ignored the very obvious - Daft Punk, Savages, Laura Marling - as they've already had lots of coverage on both blogs and mainstream media. Anyway, here are my choices...

The National 'Trouble Will Find Me' choice tracks: I Need My Girl, I Should Live in Salt, Sea Of Love

A much slower-burning effort than their other albums, this took several listens to click, and I've always clicked with the National's other records straight away. Gradually the lyrical gems hooked me again once again ('Humiliation' in particular is so stunning I feel like applauding), Berninger is pretty much my favourite lyric writer of the last few years, and the tunes are stronger and even catchier than I had thought at first. This will definitely be close to the top of the tree when we draw a line under 2013.

Colleen 'The Weighing of the Heart' choice tracks: Humming Fields, Raven, The Weighing of the Heart
my review the 405
"In terms of subverting the singer-songwriter motif and turning it into something new and genuinely strange, this album reminds me of Arthur Russell's The World of Echo. Songs are hinted at and then morphed into something you don't expect. That Colleen has managed to create a work this beautiful whilst developing her inventive music is something that should be applauded. This album is a genuine delight."

Scout Niblett 'It's Up To Emma' choice tracks: Gun, Second Chance Dreams, What Can I Do?
An album written in the aftermath of a relationship that has ended, 'It's Up To Emma' is as good a record as Scout Niblett has made to date. All those emotions are turned into songs - you have the revenge fantasy of 'Gun', defiance on 'You Can't Fool Me Now', hope ('Second Chance Dreams') and finally, resolution. Musically, the bare bones of her raw guitar and single drummer are joined by string arrangements this time around, which works very well with this material.
I was lucky enough to interview Scout Niblett about this album, the feature can be found on the 405 here

The Fall 'Re-Mit' choice tracks: Victrola Time, Hittite Man, Loadstones

This current line-up have delivered three albums as a unit with mixed results - Your Future Our Clutter was an impressive new lease of life, whilst Ersatz GB failed to deliver much that was memorable, save for a bizarre penchant for metal riffs. However Re-Mit returns to more familiar Fall territory with lots of garbled vocals, motorik rhythms, rockabilly and garage-punk, so of course this is nothing short of a massive return to form.

Deerhunter 'Monomania' choice tracks: THM, Back to the Middle, Monomania
As they've been gearing up to play their back catalogue at the imminent All Tomorrow's Parties festival, the release of 'Monomania' took me by surprise even before I listened to it. It has been my most listened to album of the month, initially because I was puzzled by their decision to submerge their sound in a grungey kind of garage-rock mix, and then because I realised that I loved quite a lot of the songs. Not the Deerhunter album to play in order to win them new fans, but an intriguing and occasionally great listen I reckon.

Mikal Cronin 'MCII' choice tracks: See It My Way, Shout it Out, Don't Let Me Go
Inextricably linked with the popular garage-rock underground thanks to his partnership with Ty Segall, Mikal Cronin's 2nd album is something else entirely. Think the grunge-power-pop of Lemonheads and Nirvana, and songwriting promise which suggest Elliott Smith or even Alex Chilton.

Bibio 'Silver Wilkinson' choice tracks: A Toute A L'Heure, Look at Orion!, Dye the Water Green
Bibio is the work of Stephen Wilkinson, which I guess explains the title to an extent, and this is the follow up to the super-hazy 'Mind Bokeh'. Often tagged electronica, Bibio is actually more of a dreamy, folk-rock act, and this is more obvious on this album, where there are less beats and more "real" instruments. The downbeat nature of this reminds me a bit of Gravenhurst's recent work, really very pretty indeed.

The Pastels 'Slow Summits' choice tracks: Secret Music, Night Time Made Us, Check My Heart
I was a fanzine boy fifteen years ago and I rang up Stephen Pastel and got him to talk me through their then newly released album 'Illumination'. I never thought that it would take until now to release the proper follow-up, but I'm pleased to say that it picks up where its great predecessor left off; melodic and very slightly jazz influenced indie-pop with a lot of depth to it.

Mount Kimbie 'Cold Spring Fault Less Youth'
choice tracks: You Took Your Time (ft. King Krule), Made to Stray, Slow
Another electronica act branching into live instruments and even vocals on their second album. The duo add vocals themselves, but they are joined by King Krule for two of the standout tracks. A few reviewers have hinted that this is a push towards the mainstream, but I wouldn't go that far just yet. It is more accessible than their debut but it isn't a sell-out, more of a development in their sound that works and also makes perfect sense.

Public Service Broadcasting 'Inform - Educate - Entertain' choice tracks: ROYGBIV, Spitfire, Everest
As long standing supporters of this lot, it has been thrilling to see this debut album chart at no.21 in the UK. All of the early singles are here, seemingly refreshed in the context of the album, and newer tunes like the Kraftwerk-esque 'Now Generation' and the downbeat closer 'Late Night Final' make it more than worthwhile to check out this complete set.

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