, Making a New World
(Memphis Industries) – This British synth-pop ensemble offers 2020’s first concept album, set in the aftermath of World War I, though the theme’s not always obvious in the 19 tracks. Tunes like “Best Kept Garden” and “Do You Read Me” are suggestive of Supertramp or Genesis, while the suffrage track “Only in a Man’s World” conjures early Talking Heads at its most manic.
, The Deadbeat Bang of Heartbreak City
(Bridge Nine/Quiet Panic) – Beach Slang’s defenders see founder James Alex as the acolyte for punk ethos, even if he seemed to lean more toward Billy Idol than punk’s rough edges. For the band’s third album, the riffs are self-assured and crisper than ever. Given Alex’s heartfelt liner notes, it seems unfair to chide sincerity, but tracks like “Bam Rang Rang” and “Tommy in the 80s” occasionally seem stuck in a time warp.