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Music Reviews: Sharon van Etten — Remind Me Tomorrow

Icy depth: Sharon van Etten makes a gripping return


Sharon van Etten — Remind Me Tomorrow

Jagjaguwar ★★★★✩

WE LAST heard from Sharon van Etten in 2014 when album Are We There and its offshoot EP, I Don’t Want To Let You Down, left a scorched, smoking trench behind them. Her life up to that point had been troubled — she entered an abusive relationship as a teen, escaping it only to wind up homeless — and her musical record of the damage threw off scalding hurt and rage. Her magnificent song Your Love Is Killing Me is liable to leave one astonished after any number of plays.

She returns as a mother, which is significant to the new album — the cover image alludes to it in funny, unnerving fashion — and in different frames of both mind and music. Remind Me Tomorrow deals with memory rather than immediate horrors. From the vantage point of new stability and strength (is the cherished ‘baby’ of Jupiter 4 the child, the father or both?) she can look back at the girl she was (Seventeen, Comeback Kid) and her fraught adult past (No One’s Easy To Love, which is a kind of dark, indie I Will Survive).

She has cited Suicide and Portishead as influences on Remind Me, and the former in particular are evident in the doomy, spare use of synth. It’s an ideal match for another first-rate collection of songs, giving them an icy depth where her more familiar indie-rock sound had thrummed with hot fury. It’s a myth that artistry demands continuing misery and this gripping album, strung-out but self-assured, shows it.

The verdict

Motherhood and time may have healed Van Etten, but her latest is as captivating as ever. DAVID BENNUN

Papa Roach — Who Do You Trust?

Eleven Seven Music ★★✩✩✩

In much the same way as explaining a punchline proves your joke failed to board the train to funny, naming one of your new songs Renegade Music suggests you might not be hitting the angry dissent target quite as accurately as you’d hoped.

California’s Papa Roach, though, have always been less inclined to subtly message than to SHOUT IN YOUR FACE! Still, it’s a method that’s sustained them for 26 years, during which time they’ve introduced electronic, pop and 1980s hard-rock flourishes to their heavy, alt-rock/rap-metal hybrid and consistently hammered the charts.

Their tenth album is sure to follow suit and there’s no denying its intensity. But it’s intensity by overly familiar blueprint: think Rage Against The Machine and Social Distortion. Jacoby Shaddix’s vocals do the urgently staccato job but he’s no protest poet. ‘When the molotov drops, tell me, who do you trust?’ he yells on the title track, as if a single, giant incendiary cocktail is hovering over our heads, while elsewhere ‘crossfire hurricane’ and ‘take it to another level’ make unembarrassed appearances.

This is an exercise in nuance-free shouting — and, in 2019, an oddly retro way for four men in their late thirties and forties to take a stand. SHARON O’CONNELL