Disclosure - Caracal | Album Review

“Just noise, white noise. I'm hearing static, you're like an automatic you just wanna keep me on repeat and hear me crying!” Surely the whole world must’ve encountered White Noise by Disclosure at some point in 2013 – as it was undeniably a ubiquitous hit, introducing the world to the music of the London based duo.

Now in 2015, brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence were faced with the almost dreaded trepidation of following up a commercially successful debut album after Settle, their first, was BRIT nominated and even hit #1 in the UK chart. Luckily for them, their sophomore effort Caracal, offers more of the same but this time the duo opt for a less mainstream, more serious sounding record – with varying results.

Although Caracal is more serious sounding – it is never boring and is still a lot of fun. Admittedly the songs are not instantaneous earworms like the ones fans have come to identify Disclosure for originating. However the Lorde collaboration Magnets at the centre of the album is one of the standouts. Lorde’s smooth vocals glide over the sleek and satisfactorily syncopated groove the duo masterfully spawned. 

The pair’s prowess of producing UK garage and house music reminiscent of their first album can still be heard on songs like Jaded (which sounds like a follow up to F For You) and the brilliant Superego.

However there is a distinct lack of “oomph” in Caracal and the duos decision to go for a more soulful sound is neither here or there. Opener Nocturnal ft The Weeknd doesn’t ascend and ends up getting stagnant halfway through when the Canadian R&B singer repeats the title for half a minute. Even their new moody collaboration Omen with now megastar Sam Smith is not that spectacular. Of course, comparisons to their previous collaboration Latch are inevitable; while Omen is good – Latch is better.

But what Caracal lacks in uniqueness it makes up for in charisma with help from Discloure’s wide-ranging contributing musical pals. So it isn’t groundbreaking, that’s ok, because Caracal is still an enjoyable listen and a testament to the duo’s talent.

Rating: 6/10

Recommended songs: Willing & Able, Magnets, Jaded, Good Intentions, Superego 


Lana Del Rey - Honeymoon | Album Review

A term that gets used by naysayers when describing Lana Del Rey’s music is that it is borderline depressing. Granted, to those who aren’t familiar with her work, titles like Summertime Sadness and Born To Die might imply Del Rey’s music is just her moping about how much she loathes her life. Which is not the case, and if her latest album Honeymoon is anything to go by, Lana Del Rey is far from dull. In fact, it proves that she is an exciting enigmatic character, just trying to be understood.

After a gorgeous 30 second orchestral instrumental “We both know that it’s not fashionable to love me”, are the first words declared by Del Rey on the opener – the album titled song Honeymoon. At this point we are unsure as to whom Del Rey is addressing; perhaps it’s cynical reviewers about her music? Or maybe it’s towards a reluctant lover? The one thing that is immediate to listeners, however, is the mysterious quality Del Rey’s music has become admired for – that dark persona is present in this album. But unlike her 2014 release Ultraviolence, Del Rey no longer sounds easily susceptible and vulnerable. Instead throughout Honeymoon’s luxurious and intoxicating 13 tracks, whether addressing subjects of loss, pain or elation Del Rey appears chillingly nonchalant. 

The love and influence for jazz and blues music that Del Rey has dabbled with before can be heard more clearly and confidently than ever. In the dreamy and heartfelt ballad, Terrance Loves You Del Rey croons about the loss of a partner behind a soothing saxophone and an accompanying trumpet – this is Del Rey in her element.

At this point, three albums in, fans and critics alike know it is imperative for a Del Rey record to feature a distinct tone of sensuality, and Honeymoon does not disappoint. Now Del Rey’s sensual side is understatedly unravelled on songs like the slow jam Freak and the sultry Art Deco. On Music To Watch Boys To the ethereal production unites with Del Rey’s angelic voice creating the sort of song you could picture Charlie's Angel Farrah Fawcett dancing to if she was a belly dancer in a former life??

When comparing Honeymoon to her previous records (Born To Die, Paradise and Ultraviolence), Del Rey has stated herself “It's very different from the last one and similar to the first two”. Perhaps the most obvious reason behind this is because Honeymoon marks the return of producer Rick Nowels who co-produced all of Born To Die and all of Honeymoon too. However, Del Rey’s sincere voice and personal lyrics are at the cornerstone of the album now, contrasting with Born To Die, which was criticised for the production overshadowing her.

But Del Rey refuses to be overshadowed by anything this time around; she’s the main magnetism. Even closing with a cover of jazz icon; Nina Simone’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood doesn’t seem to faze her, as she breathes life into the song creating a refreshing and distinctive duplicate. Concluding into what sounds like Del Rey’s purest and most authentic album to date.

Rating: 8/10

Recommended songs: Honeymoon, God Knows I Tried, High By The Beach, Freak, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, 24


Rocket League | FourPlay's Free Game of the Month

On PS+ monthly free games for July, we get this little beauty. Rocket League. Full of cars, rockets, stunts and throwing controllers. In a nice way though, because this game is the most fun you'll have in tiny 5 minute chunks. 

The basis is that you control a little Micro-Machineesque remote control car. But with jet rockets attached to your behind. Then there's about 7 other of you. And you try and get a ball into a net. So it's like a fun FIFA. For non-sports fans, don't be deterred because Rocket League has more to offer than just looking like a sports game.

Pitting yourself against a team of 1-4, you face a bunch of different challenges with number 1, actually finding the ball. Then mastering the stunts and actually hitting the ball in any way. And eventually you'll be surprised that you scored. The physics are pretty mental too. There's also a surprising amount of strategy behind it which most people shirk so stay sharp and you'll probably win every other few games.
For some reason at the end of every game or so, you unlock some customisable cosmetics for your cars. These range from car bodies to little flags for the back of your car. They're a nice touch, but it would be nice if they had some kind of ability behind each thing you unlock.
Rocket League servers are a real let down at the moment. They have announced on Twitter that they'll give players a free car to apologise. But for the first week since its been out, it would've been good to see some improvement with the 150,000+ players its lured in with its shiny rockets. Hopefully the issues will be ironed out in the next couple of weeks for a more enjoyable explodey experience.

Rocket League is a game which is designed for you to be rubbish at. But everyone else is in the same boat so it's actually fun.

Rocket League is available for free on PS+ until 5th August


Driveclub PS+ Edition | "Game" Review

So Sony have been working for a few months on this awesome racing game with a bunch of racing cars EXCLUSIVE for PS+ users. You spend that £35 quid at the start of your year subscription. Maybe for this. Maybe for the bunch of games you get free every month. 

But Driveclub really takes the biscuit. In a slew of so-called "server problems" this was delayed from the initial release date last October. And last week. Finally, you could download Driveclub PS+ edition, for FREE. Or not free.

Nothing fun in this 'racing' game is free. You can't do anything fun. As soon as you touch another car or tickle a barrier with your perfectly rendered car, you get penalised. This isn't a game. If you wanna get penalised for driving a flashy car with no turning radius, you'd buy your own car, and scrape your shiny new keys down the side of your car in a phallic shape and pay to fix your mistakes. It's infinitely better than forking out the £30 or whatever  kind of paper they try and fool you into paying for this "game". 

Every game mode that isn't a time trial or a race can't be accessed without upgrading to the "full" game. Every car you unlock, you can't use unless you spend £30 more to get the full game. You can unlock each mode individually if you fancy it, if you're a sucker. Just don't bother.

Buy The Crew or whatever. Don't fall for this "game" in massive fluffin' quotation marks. It doesn't even look that pretty.

Screw this game.

(Okay, it's kinda pretty.)


Wolf Alice- My Love Is Cool | Album Review

With one of the slowest builds in music since Azealia Banks, Wolf Alice have finally released a full album. The journey they've been on since their debut single back in 2013, Fluffy, is incredible. Mainly because they've gone from folk-tinged pop to indie rock in the space of two years, which is quite the transformation. But, it pays off. And they manage to set themselves apart from the highly-saturated indie rock market with some unique charm and personality to boot.

Having so much build up to an album can have its highs and lows. Trying to fine tune a direct sound has come at a price with My Love Is Cool. Throughout the album, there's a not really a bad song. No rock anthems though. Which you'd expect from any renowned indie rock band in this day and age. Whether this adds to their charm is in the ears of the beholder. It just seems they try and cover too many different sounds and tones across the 12 song album, without any killer tracks other than the couple of singles that were released within the past few months. 

Their reworking of one of their earlier tracks, Bros, helped improve it dramatically along with their deviation from folk. Wolf Alice have definitely unlocked their potential with their indie rock vibe. Ellie Roswell's capability to go from the softest of voices to full-on screechy temper tantrums is the core of Wolf Alice and their first album. Swallowtail, with the drummer Joel Amery's vocals, provides a more sombre feel halfway through the album, and shows off yet another dimension to the band. Giant Peach, the first single off My Love Is Cool, showcases Wolf Alice in a nutshell. Or peach pit.

My Love Is Cool shows off Wolf Alice's multiple talents. All it needed was discipline, rather than the mismatch of sounds they delivered. 

Standout tracks: Giant Peach & Your Loves Whore


FourPlay's 3 from E3 | E3 Review

After a week of E3 coverage from FourPlay, Nat and Melissa are back to give you their top 3 games from E3 to round off the best week of the year for gaming. See what got bronze, silver and gold in our rankings!

1. Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4 Exclusive)
Dinosaurs... Robots... ROBOT DINOSAURS!!! No other game during Sony's conference grabbed my attention, like this one did. From the makers of the Killzone franchise, they're bringing something new to the table. And it's looking like you get to control a future Ygritte, which is great too. The combat system looks incredibly intricate with an example being drawn from a missile launching T-Rex being disabled by ropes, and some electric arrows. It's definitely unique to anything seen before, as the obvious course of action would've been to just make a dinosaur game. But a robot dinosaur game? All the yes. 

Release Date: TBA

2. Firewatch (PC, Mac, Linux & PS4)
In Campo Santo's first game, from the looks of things, they've hit a home run. Announced late last year, it looked just like any other survival game thats been churned out over the past year or so. It's not, I think. There's only so much you can go off trailers. It shows the main character being in the middle of the forest, watching out for fires and stuff. But he only has one connection to civilisation, through his walkie talkie. With Delilah. In the 1 minute preview, you get a look into how thats working out with all the isolation and mysteries, but it's an experience unlike any other for sure.

Release Date: TBA

3. Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (3DS)
I've always had a soft spot for Animal Crossing. And with this new instalment, you get to control even more in your town! What more could you want? Not only can you help villagers with their interior design, you can also make their garden look just as fabulous. Not only that, but its the first, in my eyes, useful amiibo integration. By using the amiibo cards, you can then help that character. But if you have a older version of the 3DS, be prepared to fork out for the amiibo adaptor so you can actually play the game! In a relatively lacklustre Nintendo conference fuelled with puppet gimmicks and whatnot, they can always rely on Animal Crossing as a safety blanket. A hella cute safety blanket.

Release Date: 25 September '15 (US) & 2 October '15 (EU)

1. Final Fantasy 7 Remake
If anyone knows me personally they will know I am a huge Square Enix fan. So this pick shouldn't really serve as a surprise. Although it's not quite the title I was really hankering for from them *cough* Final Fantasy Versus *cough* this is one remake that the world has been begging for. With a significant upgrade in graphics and hopefully a vast improvement in gaming mechanics this is set to be the mother of all releases. Due to the undertaking of such a humongous task of re-mastering one of the biggest RPG's ever created there is no release date as of yet. But this is a big step in the right direction for the franchise.
Release Date: TBA

2. Kingdom Hearts 3 
Again another brilliant series from Square Enix that played a prominent part of my childhood. Almost 10 years later and the Disney crossover franchise finally has a fitting sequel that moves on from the limitations of the PS2. The trailer provided some gorgeous cutscenes that really showcased how far Sora has progressed from his first adventure. What's even better is we finally have an insight to the game play in store. By the looks of things the hordes of colourful enemies and the smooth combat  controls are going to be the perfect combo that'll offer hours of immersive play. Unfortunately Square Enix have a infuriating habit of teasing their fans with awesome content with no release date to show for it. Kingdom Hearts 3 is "Now in development." Watch this space.

Release Date: TBA

3. The Last Guardian (PS4 Exclusive)
It wasn't all about Square Enix at E3 for me this year. Sony's last instalment in the "Shadow of the Colossus" series has been in development since 2007 and finally we have something to show for it. With its cinematic glamour and challenging puzzle solving elements the demo already promises big things for the full release. Another bonus is we actually have some idea of when this will be available! Thank god for that!
Release Date: 2016

Join us for Gamescom coverage at the start of August for more exclusive gaming news.


Ubisoft Press Conference | E3 Round-up

Tom Clancy etc.
Ubisoft may as well be called Tom Clancysoft with a grand total of 3 Clancy game's being previewed once again. With Rainbow Six Siege, a Ghost Recon and the much anticipated The Division. It probably would've been less of a Clancyfest if The Division hadn't have been delayed on numerous occasions, but it looks like its all gonna be worth it.

Just Dance 2016
Accompanied by none other than Jason Derulo with some shameful crooning, there's yet another of these mindless dancing games with even more new songs! Also announced with it is that you can use your smartphone rather than a controller to dance which is pretty handy since everyone has iPhones or whatnot but not everyone can have a controller. So yeah, pull this out at your parties for no-one to turn up again!

For Honor
As a samurai, viking or knight, you’ll run around battlefields attempting to gain control of key areas, fighting human opponents as well as hacking and slashing your way through AI warriors. From the gameplay trailer, its not like any another close-contact melee from Ubisoft, but it looks as though their combat system is a lot more intricate than meets the eye... It's nice to have something a bit different to the usual games Ubisoft churns out.

Assassin's Creed Syndicate
Finally, a Victorian London Assassin's Creed. Oh and you can play as a female? Not so difficult to animate now, huh Ubisoft? Way to put that behind you. Seriously though, after last years host of trailers after trailers, it was nice for not too much to be revealed with just a cinematic trailer. It was a real problem with Unity that there was a new trailer every other week or so, and for the final product to not reach the level anticipated. Hopefully they've learnt their lesson.