Best albums of the week: Dua Lipa, Radical Optimism

It’s in It Is What It Is, a rhythmic noughties-style track, that Chinouriri really hits her groove. Lily Allen’s influence is clearer here than anywhere, and the singer has a new confidence that brings the first tracks in the album together. 

The release is split in half: Chinouriri has said that she wanted to give listeners a “false sense of security”. All changes after the title song, What A Devastating Turn Of Events, which recalls the true story of a young woman who died by suicide after finding out she was pregnant. The song is moving and hits hard, but feels detached from the earlier, upbeat tracks. This back half of the album recalls Chinouriri’s softer, less self-assured releases. 

Chinouriri still needs to find her identity as an artist, but she’s proved herself no one-trick (TikTok) pony. Lauren Shirreff

The Lemon Twigs, A Dream Is All We Know  ★★★★☆

If your first interaction with The Lemon Twigs happens to be their new album A Dream Is All We Know, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the classic rock ‘n’ rollers hail from these fair isles. The duo, made up of brothers Brian and Michael D’Addari (both in their mid-twenties), offer up an irresistible mix of skiffle, beat and indie rock (leaving them to reside someplace between The Beatles and Vampire Weekend) that manages to sound quintessentially ‘60s – and quintessentially British – despite the fact they’re actually New Yorkers. 

A Dream Is All We Know is that rare thing: a perfectly crafted, concise collection of 12 songs that brim over with good-will and optimism. It’s their fifth album, and although their harking back to the glory days of the Fab Four (or Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, or the Beach Boys) may be inferred by some snooty critics as pastiche, their whimsical lyrics, off-kilter melodies and Chuck Berry-esque riffs are difficult to resist.

How Can I Love Her More possesses the upbeat energy and aching romance of the Beach Boys’ Good Vibrations, while the influence of the Wilson brothers is also keenly felt on In the Eyes of the Girl (co-produced by Sean “son of John” Ono-Lennon). My Golden Years is a gorgeous rumination on the passing of time and being plagued by regret when you don’t grab life by the horns. The brothers’ gorgeous vocals and doo-wop sound make for a pure sun-soaked treat, even making the melancholy – “Though so much has passed / The only thing true is nothing can last / And in the blink of an eye / I’ll watch these golden years fly by” – seem energised. 

With the release of every album, The Lemon Twigs grow bigger and bigger, selling out tour dates and shifting vinyl. It’s not hard to see why: catchy and sun-soaked, their old school songs offer a feel-good respite from the doom and gloom you find elsewhere in the pop charts – and in the news. Poppie Platt

Best Songs of the Week

By Poppie Platt

Bellah Mae, Hell & Never Back
The 22-year-old Solihull-native headed to Nashville to record this tender break-up ballad. One of Britain’s brightest rising stars – she recently received a co-sign from Canadian pop-sensation Tate McRae – whose songs are all over social media, it’s a pleasing mix of country introspection and poppy hooks.

Home Counties, Bethnal Green
Hailing from Buckinghamshire, Home Counties almost sound like a cross between Everything Everything, Talking Heads and Yard Act – electronic beats coupled with witty, socially-minded lyrics. Taken from their debut album Exactly As It Seems, the band takes the listener on a synth-pop backed tour of London’s glorified hipster enclave.

Orlando Weeks (featuring Rhian Teasdale), Dig
The former Maccabees frontman teams up with Wet Leg’s Teasdale on this thudding track that couples as an under-hand argument between wronged lovers; his tender vocals (always so engaging on Maccabees tracks, from Toothpaste Kisses to Spit It Out) couple perfectly with Teasdale’s snarky rebuttals.

Pixey, Million Dollar Baby
Rising Liverpudlian alt-pop star Pixey sets herself up as the heir to Charli XCX or Carly Rae Jepsen on this dancefloor-ready anthem about vacuous hangers-on, who are desperate for fame and fortune, born from a conversation she had at a party in LA.

Sabrina Carpenter, Espresso 
The Disney star-turned-Taylor Swift opening act’s latest single has been stuck in my head for weeks now, and has become so prevalent on social media that I hadn’t even thought to include it in this list: surely, like, everyone has heard it on TikTok? Now headed for Number 1 in the charts, it’s a catchy love letter to Carpenter’s beau (actor Barry Keoghan) that is 10x more addictive than your morning coffee.

Thomas Powers (featuring Julien Baker), Empty Voices
Powers, who previously provided vocals for mid-00s indie-pop favourites The Naked & Famous, teams up with the boygenius star for an electro-tinged track about the downsides of social media: trolling, competition, envy.

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