Extra Love

Out of the Dark
Self-released

Out Of The Dark, Extra Love’s debut album, is a sonic treat which induces bouncing from start to finish. Over 10 tracks, the Manchester reggae band have created a sound which is addictive, unique and unpredictable. Add tons of positivity for good measure and there's a winner of an album. In the main, Out Of The Dark is upbeat, inspiring and offers food for thought, as well as making your body groove. On it, Extra Love showcase their versatility, from the socially-minded, laidback swagger of ‘Ruff’ to the funky, good time riot of ‘Party People’. ‘Universal Cry’ is a bouncy global SOS, whilst ‘Rub-A-Dub Souljah’ is true to its name – sparse and expansive with a really funky bass line.

A few tracks in particular stand out for me. There's the lively circus vibe and visionary lyrics of ‘Freedom’, while ‘Fire’ is infectious and inspiring, with seamless brass parts that linger on your brain. ‘Keep Moving’ combines soulful vocals with an amazing, heartfelt sax solo. The sun-drenched call-to-action of ‘Rebel’ is highly danceable, and ‘Bigman’ is an all-round epic tune, which holds the powers that be up to scrutiny. But one of the best moments is when the cheerful catchiness of ‘Run’ descends into a dark, dirty mash-up of heavy guitar and fierce horns.

Overall, Out Of The Dark is an audio high that leaves you feeling uplifted and elevated. Good luck deciding which of these is your favourite track.

Anna Tuck

Blossoms

AT MOST A KISS
EMI

Stockport hasn't produced many music industry stars. Rick Witter of Shed Seven fame is perhaps where the list starts and ends. Now, underneath the sign that welcomes you to Stockport, another sign has popped up: The Home of Blossoms.

On their fourth EP, entitled At Most A Kiss, the indie pop band are making some serious 80s Madonna-inspired noise, selling out gigs left right and centre. Their last EP, Charlemagne, produced by The Coral's James Skelly, has seemingly set a precedent for future Blossoms releases.

First on last year's four-track record was the easily accessible single and title track. In this case, it is 'At Most A Kiss', on which a heavy bassline and melodic synth riffs give singer Tom Ogden the platform to show off his recognisable voice.

The second track, 'Fourteen', is a synth-led tribute to old school hip hop, a near carbon copy of the last EP's 'Across The Moor', though the uplifting chorus saves it from generic album fodder. 'Wretched Fate' initially sounds like a cover of Cyndi Lauper's 'Time After Time', and that is no insult. This is an instant classic Blossoms track and will slot nicely into their live set. To finish the record, we get Ogden's customary piano ballad. It has a chirpy melody and sounds slightly off-beat for an indie pop record. This, and last year's 'Everlyn', won't make it onto the band's set list, and perhaps won't be missed either.

With the promise of a debut album, this EP could just be a stop-gap for the big release. 'At Most A Kiss' and 'Wretched Fate' are standout singles on any record though, and leave plenty to the imagination of what Blossoms have up their sleeves.

Paul Stimpson