Natalie McCool – The Great Unknown
Indie, synth-infused rock is a tricky wheel to reinvent, but Natalie McCool gives it one almighty go. Another winner for PledgeMusic campaigns, the Liverpudlian's latest album arrives fan-backed and tour-tested: The Great Unknown is slick, sophisticated, and feels just right in its own skin. Chris Martin and Paul McCartney have voiced support for the songwriter in the past, but McCool sprints past any hyped celeb endorsements to fund her record and find her own feet.
The record's ballads show off McCool's crystal-clear vocal ability and sensitive, intelligent songwriting: When You Love Somebody, You and I and Fortress are open-hearted and full of glittering optimism. 'Pinch yourself if you know what I'm talking about,' she suggests, and you will. Still, you could just as easily argue that McCool and band are better when they're angry.
Dig It Out is a perfectly pitched look-at-me-now, a satisfying middle-finger to feeling held back. Magnet is an opposites-attract anthem that Taylor Swift would sell her soul for (just wait 'til the guitar kicks in and tell us this doesn't deserve all of Tay Tay's future record sales). Feel Good is spiked with surprisingly gothic, bad-blood, skin-shedding frustration and balanced by a chorus of pure pop hedonism: 'I do it just to feel good,' she sings – half confession, half shrug – and that self-confidence is exactly what gives The Great Unknown so much magic.
Listen to: Dig It Out, When You Love Somebody