Music Notes: Madonna, Blood Red Shoes, Sigur Ros, The Walkmen, Architects, The Tallest Man On Earth, John Talabot

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THE past week has generally been more notable for its announcements than new releases, although the return of Madonna did provide a rather obvious exception.

AT 53, it’s fair to say that the Queen of Pop’s best days are behind her, but 12th studio album MDNA does at least manage to recapture some of the spark that made Confessions On A Dance Floor a latter day success. It should go down well with her fans, and will inevitable hit No 1 in every country imaginable, so it’d be absurd to call it anything but a triumph. {http://www#youtube#com/watch?v=cItHOl5LRWg|Here’s lead single Give Me All Your Luvin’ which features M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj.|Here’s lead single Give Me All Your Luvin’ which features M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj.}

ANOTHER impressive new album - albeit far lower profile - came from Brighton indie duo Blood Red Shoes, with their third outing In Time To Voices.

Quality-wise, it’s almost identical to its predecessors, but in terms of sound they’re making plenty of progression, with this record being both their most ambitious and diverse yet.

Crucially, it also succeeds in recalling the manic energy that made their debut Box Of Secrets such an exhilarating listen, and the album as a whole is better off as a result.

{http://www#nme#com/blog/index#php?blog=1&title=blood_red_shoes_in_time_to_voices_exclus&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1|You can stream the whole thing here.|You can stream the whole thing here.}

NOW on to those announcements, which were headed by the news that Icelandic legends Sigur Ros will release a new album, Valtari, on May 29.

The undisputed kings of post-rock (from a sales perspective, at least) have also unveiled a new track, Ekki Múkk which will appear on the record, which is bound to have fans worldwide falling over themselves in anticipation.

It hints at a return to the ambient beauty of 2002s masterpiece ( ), and although they’ve spent the past few years on hiatus you wouldn’t bet against them reaching such dazzling peaks again.

{http://www#fuse#tv/2012/03/new-sigur-ros-album-out-in-may|Listen to ‘Ekki Múkk’ here.|Listen to ‘Ekki Múkk’ here.}

ALSO on the comeback trail are The Walkmen, one of the finest indie-rock bands that America has to offer.

Mainstream success may have largely eluded them thus far, but the New Yorkers have nevertheless built a devoted fanbase as a result of their rock solid back catalogue.

New album Heaven (released on June 5) probably won’t do much to change that, but it’s always great to have new material from a band that you know will deliver.

{http://www#youtube#com/watch?v=CNans04xCII|Here’s The Rat, their best-known song from 2004’s Bows + Arrows.|Here’s The Rat, their best-known song from 2004’s Bows + Arrows.}

SOMEWHAT less reliable are Brighton metalcore outfit Architects, who let themselves down with last year’s disappointing fourth album The Here And Now.

Completely abandoning their aggressive mathy roots, they decided to adopt a more populist approach to their songwriting, which predictably bombed among many fans and most critics.

This week, however, saw them return with a bang, with an excellent new single, These Colours Don’t Run, following the announcement of new album Daybreaker (due on June 5).

It packs quite a punch, with searing riffs and a fabulous vocal performance carrying a song of startling political stance. {http://www#youtube#com/watch?v=FHHJF2cUwyY&feature=youtu#be|Listen to it here.|Listen to it here.}

IF you prefer your music to be more relaxed, then the announcement of a third LP from Swedish folk singer The Tallest Man On Earth could, and should, be of interest.

Kristian Matsson (who for the record is actually rather short!) often receives comparisons to Bob Dylan due to his stripped back style and undeniably similar voice, but there’s always been a lot more to him than that.

Indeed his two existing albums, Shallow Grave and The Wild Hunt, are both wonderful, and the same will likely be true of There’s No Leaving Now, which will see the light of day on June 12.

{http://www#youtube#com/watch?v=0qdM8WdTfH4|Follow this link to check out King Of Spain from The Wild Hunt - it really is as good as folk music gets.|Follow this link to check out King Of Spain from The Wild Hunt - it really is as good as folk music gets.}

FINALLY, with the first quarter of 2012 having come to an end, it seems like a pretty good time to reflect on the best music that the year has so far produced.

Bruce Springsteen made a stunning return with Wrecking Ball, indie singer Sharon Van Etten tugged at heartstrings with third LP Tramp, while Swedish sisters First Aid Kit and American singer-songwriter Andrew Bird both produced stellar folk records in The Lion’s Roar and Break It Yourself respectively.

For me, though, the best album of the year so far has come from Spanish house artist John Talabot, with his debut full-length Fin.

{http://www#youtube#com/watch?v=UUyBJg5MiEU|Here’s one of it’s highlights, Destiny. Enjoy, and see you next week.|Here’s one of it’s highlights, Destiny. Enjoy, and see you next week.}