November 4th: Pnau – ‘Chameleon’
Newly a trio after realising that one Littlemore wasn’t enough, Pnau’s pleasingly onomatopoeic name (which rhymes with the sound a cat makes) hasn’t been placed on any new material since they chopped Elton John snippets around into a number 1 album four years ago. That doesn’t mean they haven’t been hard at work, though – just one week prior to the launch of ‘Chameleon,’ a luscious dance track that they described to Triple J as “not a serious emotional song…just something to be celebrated,” Nick Littlemore’s other big project (Empire Of The Sun) released their similarly jungly LP Two Vines with Pnau pal Peter Mayes joining the party on production. If you’ve been wondering why things have had a tendency to appear rather bleak of late, it’s probably because this bundle of Australians stole the world’s colour to kick off their summer.
November 11th: The xx – ‘On Hold‘
I’m calling it now: January 13th may well be the best release day of 2017. In Migration and forecasted by the stunning ‘Kerala,’ Bonobo will reach album six on the way to a big year of touring and a co-headline show at the Red Rocks Amphitheater alongside Nick Murphy, the artist formerly known as Chet Faker. Nadia Rose, a London rapper who you’ll recognise from copious tip lists for the new year and her role on ‘Crank It (Woah!)’ with Kideko and George Kwali, has a Highly Flammable collection on the way. If you haven’t already downloaded it as a Christmas gift from their website, interminably acclaimed rap duo Run The Jewels will let you buy a physical copy of RTJ3. SOHN, a graduate of The List, will succeed the “wonderfully unique” Tremors with Rennen. After another year in which grime has been the trendiest word on music writers’ pens, self-proclaimed Godfather Wiley will come back to show everyone how it should be done.
November 18th: Justice – Woman
To this point in This Year In Records, I have referred to disco on five occasions. None of those events have been anywhere near as rooted in the truest form of the discipline as Justice’s latest, which opens with choirs and ominous instrumentation (‘Safe And Sound’) before roaring through sharp falsetto courtesy of longtime collaborator Morgan Phalen (‘Pleasure,’ ‘Randy’) and even a spot of ‘Heavy Metal.’
November 25th: Busted – Night Driver
For all its reputation as the merciless assassin of entertainment’s great and good, 2016 has been the bearer of an above-average tally of unlikely reinventions of vintage bands. And yes, referring to Busted as vintage is valid, for there was a time between 2002 and 2004 when Charlie Simpson, Matt Willis, and James Bourne were everywhere. (For reference, my definition of everywhere between the ages of five and eight, when music-based programming appeared on television with a long gone regularity, comprises that bizarre Thunderbirds reboot, the Now! series, and shows like CD:UK, Top Of The Pops, and Blue Peter.) After they went their separate ways, the idea of Night Driver would be absurd – 12 years and a partial McBusted jaunt later, this record is a subtle tribute to the sounds of ’80s pop led by ‘On What You’re On,’ which transports the trio into the sort of vocodered groove that Daft Punk would be proud of – but 2016 is 2016, so here we are.