New Music Reviews: Spoon, Rosalía, Wet Leg, and The Weather Station

IIt’s not my favourite batch of new releases this week – lots of solid 7.5s. Indie band Spoon release their tenth album, Spain’s Rosalía follows up her acclaimed flamenco-pop album El Mal Querer, and Isle of Wight duo Wet Leg release their debut.

Spoon

Lucifer on the Sofa

2022, 7.5/10
Like Beach House a couple of weeks ago, Spoon are another acclaimed indie institution I haven’t yet covered on this site. On their tenth album, producer Mark Rankin brings out their earthy side. Even though it’s not Spoon’s most memorable set of songs, it’s enjoyably visceral. The instrument and Britt Daniel’s vocals are raw and bluesy, and it’s full of great playing – Jim Eno is of my favourite drummers, while there are great guitar moments like the quickfire rhythm guitar on ‘Wild’.

Years of playing together as a band are clear on tracks like ‘The Devil & Mr Jones’, building into a tight groove. There’s some nice stylistic variation toward the end too – the Fender Rhodes, acoustic guitar, and harmonies on ‘Astral Jacket’ sound like Crowded House, while ‘On the Radio’ is built around pounding piano.

Spoon have better records in their back catalogue but Lucifer is full of vigour for a band more than a quarter of a century into their recording career.


Rosalía

Motomami

2022, 8/10
On her sophomore album El Mal Querer, Spain’s Rosalía brought flamenco music into the 21st century. She added modern beats and studio gloss to the traditional form but in a respectful way that showcased her deep immersion in flamenco. El Mal Querer was critically acclaimed, but Motomami largely abandons flamenco, instead positing Rosalía as a mainstream Latin star. This change was already signalled by a parade of non-album singles over the past few years, like ‘Aute Cuture’ and the duet with Billie Eilish on ‘Lo Vas a Olvidar’. Motomami recalls the Latin music that Rosalía danced to with her cousins as a child.

I was initially wary of the change – it felt like a promising young artist sacrificing her unique angle and authenticity for mainstream appeal. But taken separately, Motomami works on its own terms. It’s surprisingly eclectic and was once planned as four projects – separate records of flamenco, piano ballads, dark pop, and alternative reggaeton. With eighteen eclectic tracks Motomami sometimes feels like a sprawling double, but with its short run times it’s actually fast-moving. There are still traces of flamenco, notably on ‘Bulerías’, but also shots at the mainstream like the Weeknd duet ‘La Fama’ and the sassiness of ‘Chicken Terayaki’. Rosalía is an exceptional vocalist, and her vocals shine on tracks like the a capella closer ‘Sakura’ and the earthy ‘Hentai’.

Motomami is a less unique artistic statement than El Mal Querer, but it’s a successful album on its own terms.


Wet Leg

Wet Leg

2022, 7.5/10
Isle of Wight duo Wet Leg were one of the breakout stars of 2021, their innuendo-laden hit ‘Chaise Longue’ going viral. Wet Leg is the accompanying full-length record from Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, and it’s met with success, topping the album charts in the UK and Australia. Their name comes from an Isle of Wight expression denoting visitors to the island, recognisable because they’d have wet legs from getting off the boat.

I was initially prepared to write Wet Leg off as gimmicky, but later singles impressed me that there’s substance here. Their debut album mixes a few strands of music – the exuberance of Britpop, the slacker attitude of 1990s alt-rock, and the rawness of post-punk. ‘Chaise Longue’, with its string of endearing silly double entendres, is far from the only humorously provocative song. There’s also ‘Wet Dream’, with its quirky promise “I’ve got Buffalo ’66 on DVD”. They’re most convincing on the full band songs like ‘Ur Mum’ and ‘Supermarket’.

As a somewhat gimmicky duo, Wet Leg will be reliant on a strong second album to establish a lasting career, but their debut is a ton of fun.


The Weather Station

How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars

2022, 7.5/10
Tamara Lindeman’s sixth album was written at the same time as 2021’s Ignorance. According to Lindeman, it’s the moon to the previous album’s sun. While Ignorance presented a sophisticated veneer, How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars is presented simply, recorded in three days. There’s no percussion, and the songs are often brief. Lindeman’s vocals are lovely, recalling the jazzy warmth of fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell.

It’s perhaps unfair to label Stars as an outtakes album, but it does feel less substantial than its predecessor. The playing and singing are so lovely that How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars works well as background music, but a couple of songs stand out – opener ‘March’ has a lovely lilt, with the minimal piano providing a lovely bed for the exploratory bass and saxophone. Ryan Driver provides duet vocals on ‘To Talk About’, and it’s a great change of pace – the lyrics are personal rather than existential angst in the face of climate change.

How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars is lovely, even while the songs aren’t always remarkable.

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Aphoristical

Graham Fyfe is probably the only music blogger to appreciate Neil Diamond and Ariana Grande.

Aphoristic Album Reviews features many Reviews and Blog Posts across a growing spectrum of popular music.

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7 Comments

    • Yup, our new music features have been crossing over more this year than they had previously I think.

  1. I’ve become a huge fan of Spoon over the last few years, and love their music. I don’t normally have the patience or interest to listen to very much non-English-spoken music, but I do like the track from Rosalia that you shared. Though I know I’m clearly in the minority, as it seems just about everyone else LOVES them, I have mixed feelings about Wet Leg. I probably have shitty taste in music, but I cannot stand “Chaise Longue” (I even loathe the title). Their other songs are slightly less annoying to me though. Finally, while I’m not too terribly familiar with The Weather Station’s discography, I like what I’ve heard by them.

    • I assumed for years that Spoon were a weird experimental band – partly because they took their name from a Can song. But the biggest thing Can and Spoon have in common is great drummers.

      I’m not going to defend Wet Leg as bastions of high culture – I didn’t like ‘Chaise Longue’ at first, but it’s grown on me. They are a bit gimmicky, but I think there’s substance there.

  2. I like the Spoon track. I have liked what I’ve heard from them. I’ve heard different things come from them. I’ve only listened to like a song here and a song there but I like the variety. The last one I was listening to was called The Underdog.

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