Charlotte Hatherley - New Worlds
Forget Florence and the Machine et al: Charlotte Hatherley is setting the creative agenda for British female artists. Joining Ash aged 17 in the mid-1990s, she's since won respect for her unshowily excellent fretwork and two solid solo albums. On her second LP since she left the boisterous Northern Irish punk-poppers in 2006, the multi-instrumentalist has come into her own with a record that's startling in its idiosyncracy.
New Worlds is dripping in Hatherley's own wide-eyed energy and subtle sexuality. There's a preoccupation with colour that lends the lyrics a vividity that's matched by the ten whipsmart pop songs which back them up. Each one twists between genres with a natural ease: witness the opening one-two punch of singles White - a skyscraping rock song which ascends in its refrain to become a dreamy pop soundscape, grounded only by Hatherley's endearingly thin vocals - and Alexander, a meandering acoustic number which segues into a wiry college-rock bounce.
She also manages effortlessly to carve the off-kilter jerk-pop of '80s weirdos Devo in her own lively image on the title track. On this record, Charlotte Hatherley lays her claim to being the Kate Bush of the 21st Century. If you think that's hyperbole, step into her New Worlds and tell me you disagree.