Promises that Portishead’s Adrian Utley has helped Mike Hadreas turn his sound on its head for his third record may be a little exaggerated – but not by much. It’s still that effortlessly histrionic tumble and soar vocal of his that grabs the headlines on Too Bright, but it has to compete with an overcast atmosphere and a turbulence beyond the fragile sorrow of his earlier work.
My Body and Grid are striking in their ominous army-summoning drum thunder – PJ Harvey’s drummer John Parish is again involved – and perforating electronic shards that pull the tracks towards a flashing chaos. Lead single Queen is a defiant retaliation against his former gay panic, Hadreas sneering “no family is safe, when I sashay” with a new found scorn. Something’s changed within the vocal trapeze artist, and though No Good is a return to a more brittle familiarity, there’s a hard spine to Too Bright hitherto unseen. [Simon Jay Catling]