The Deconstruction (E Works/PIAS)
On this, his 12th album with an ever-shifting band of fellow Eels, the Californian singer-songwriter shapes his short, sweet pop tunes with painterly care: a brushing of strings here, a low-key, Danny Elfman-style choral trill there.
The title track with its twinkling synth and guitar sets the tone. Bone Dry adds grit to the formula, hitching ironic “shoo-be-doohs” to a tale of a lover utterly betrayed.
Rusty Pipes, a song about loneliness and illness, is as tunefully sublime as Oliver’s beautifully straightforward love letter to his wife and family, Sweet Scorched Earth.
Best of all is The Epiphany, the key line of which, “You can kill or be killed, the sun’s still going to shine”, sums up the redemptive power of this quite beautiful record.
Combat Sports (Columbia)
With a new keyboard player and drummer in place following all sorts of internal bickering, The Vaccines sound re-energised on their fourth album.
Their punky, sexually charged pop is still honed for live performance – I Can’t Quit sounds particularly match-fit – but there’s plenty of subtlety here too in the gorgeous chord changes of Maybe (Luck Of The Draw) and jangling, Kinks-like, Take It Easy.
Johnny Cash: Forever Words (Legacy)
The late Johnny Cash left behind a “monstrous amassment” of letters and poems, according to his son John Carter Cash, who has now had them shaped into songs featuring a galaxy of country and rock stars.
The words provide a fascinating glimpse into Cash’s life and thoughts from the simple, everyday sentiments of To June This Morning – performed by Kacey Musgraves and husband Ruston Kelly – through the rich tapestry of Gold All Over The Ground, a honey-voiced rendition by Brad Paisley.
Best of all is Chris Cornell turning in one of his last recordings before his suicide on the eerily prescient title, You Never Knew My Mind.
Fourteen albums in and now pushing 50, Kylie still sounds as nasal and cartoonish as ever.
But some of us may have had vague hopes that a switch to country might lend a more mature perspective to her tired pop formula.
Golden simply adds a few jangly guitars and line-dance whoops to the singer’s usual R’n’B-by-numbers making it, curiously, more forgettable than ever.