CD reviews

Artist: Pearl Jam

Title: Lightning Bolt (Universal)

Genre: Rock

Rating: ★★★★

In short: Pearler

PEARL Jam’s first album in four years begins with a primal scream and ends with the amps switched off.

In between, there’s plenty for fans to sink their teeth into.

Lightning Bolt is the Seattle rockers’ 10th studio album and one of their most consistent.

As stated, the opening duo of Getaway and the single Mind Your Manners are rampant rock efforts with the former a little more of a contemporary tune from the grunge originators.

My Father’s Son, however, is more of a throwback with a manic bass backbone while the pop-rock edge of the title track could well see it released.

Elsewhere, Pendulum really strikes a chord. It’s an dark and epic tune with Eddie Vedder delivering vocally in a way only Eddie Vedder does.

Let The Record Play is swinging blues and a highlight and the rustic Sleeping By Myself is super but might fit better on a Vedder solo CD.

Artist: John Newman

Title: Tribute (Universal)

Genre: Pop/soul

Rating: ★★★½

In short: Stylish

AUSTRALIA is pretty enamoured with John Newman at the moment.

The 23-year-old Brit first came to our attention as the ‘voice’ of dance act Rudimental, having sung on two of their biggest hits in Not Giving In and Feel The Love.

As a solo artist, he’s fared just as well with his debut single Love Me Again charting top-5 here (it hit No.1 in the UK).

His solo work is more straightforward musically than his songs with Rudimental but it’s Newman’s distinctive voice that’s the star here anyway, especially on tunes like Easy and Out Of My Head. 

If you like Love Me Again, chances are you’ll also dig Running while Losing Sleep is a big ‘hand-clappy’ string-laden pop anthem also destined to be a hit.

And Cheating — one of Newman’s earliest tracks — is also one of the CD’s best — bold, brassy and a bunch of fun.

Artist: Miley Cyrus

Title: Bangerz (Sony)

Genre: Pop

Rating: ★★★

In short: Clothes optional

MILEY’S in the news for being a naughty, saucy girl.

“Make them talk for two weeks rather than two seconds,” she said recently. 

But I reckon nothing Miles’ has done to date compares with the horror of her dad’s Achy Breaky Heart.

Newsflash 1: She’s marketed Bangerz quite brilliantly.

Newsflash 2: It’s actually not all about a sausage sizzle.

She’s got two hit singles in We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball, the latter’s nudey video having notched more than 150 million YouTube views.

Bangerz vaguely lives up to its title. It’s Miley doing hip-hop, or hip-pop.

Britney duets on the reckless Salt N’ Pepa-swiping SMS while Miles draws on her country roots for a breathless collab with Nelly in 4x4.

Pharrell’s GetItRight is a piece of perky pop while Amy Winehouse is channeled to effect on the charming FU.

Artist: Lorde

Title: Pure Heroine (Universal)

Genre: Pop

Rating: ★★★★

In short: Good lorde

IT’S hard to fathom Lorde is just 16.

The Kiwi singer-songwriter has been hailed as the new sound of pop music. Her singles on high rotation on noth commercial and non-commercial radio.

Unlike your average teen pop artist delivering dance-music-by-numbers and a megawatt smile, Lorde’s tunes and lyrics are multi-layered, deep and forever interesting. 

And it’s obvious more time was injected into the music than the mono, text-only cover art.

Her lyrical delivery, again, belies someone of her age.

There’s elements of hip-hop, down-vibe indie pop and chillout. As such Pure Heroine fits as a complete album in this age of single song purchases.

Hard to single out standouts but Glory & Gore is powerful, Ribs is a rare upbeat moment with attitude and White Teeth Teens is sweet but edgy.

Artist: Jessica Mauboy

Title: Beautiful (Sony)

Genre: Pop

Rating: ★★★½

In short: Lively

I RECENTLY mentioned that Jess Mauboy has done very well for herself. 

I mean, she’s one of only a handful of ex-Idols still relevant in this country.

Count ‘em: Guy Sebastian, Shannon Noll, Ricki-Lee, Matt Corby and Lisa Mitchell. Maybe Damien Leith.

Since coming runner-up to Leith in 2006, Mauboy has become a star of stage and screen as well as delivering no less than 10 top-20 singles over three solo albums.

On Beautiful, Mauboy sticks to what she knows best — club pop (Pop A Bottle, To The End Of The Earth, Beautiful).

Mauboy also gets to showcase her vocal skill during a slower set mid-CD including the power-ballad Never Be The Same and I’ll Be There.

And Kick Up Your Heels, despite a tacked-on Pitbull rap, is a thumping throwback jam.

Artist: Justin Timberlake

Title: 20/20 Experience Part 2 (Sony)

Genre: Pop

Rating: ★★★½

In short: Funky

So is ‘part 2’ of Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience part of the original plan or simply a ‘make-up’ for the disappointing initial release?

Either way, The 20/20 Experience 2 is markedly more interesting than its predecessor despite hit singles including Suit & Tie and Mirrors.

While part 1 was soaked in soul, part 2 reintroduces the funk to the JT setlist.

Timberlake continues his connection having helmed both part 1 and the super successful 2006 release FutureSex/LoveSounds.

And it’s certainly trademark Timbo from the 1980s-vibed lead single Take Back The Night and more industrial current hit TKO, which samples Barry White.

Drake teams with JT on the stylish future hit Cabaret while Jay-Z jumps on a third collab this year with Justin on the punchy highlight Murder.

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