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Nouveau - CD review - 12 August 1998
by Eitaroh Arakawa

Natalie Imbruglia - Left of the Middle

Natalie Imbruglia was just another Antipodean soap star, just like Kylie Minogue and Jason Donavan. And, like her fellow Australians, the future brightened. Imbruglia stormed on the scene as a sassy pop star and now musically is undoubtedly Left of the Middle. Her debut is characterised by breathless vocals amid slightly skewed harmonies. There are pop songs here that are powerful, graceful and strong, and yet at the same time, sensitive. Musical poise with brains.

RCA/BMG 74321544412

Natalie Imbruglia

Robbie Williams - Life thru a Lens

As an allegedly untalented member of boy-band Take That, Robbie Williams has transformed himself. From harmless teenage heart-throb to media-genic bad-boy-about-town. Life thru a Lens is a testament to his new image; it varies from the seisimic "Let me Entertain you" to the rather beautiful "Angels". He has captured the mood of his public, distilled it, and produced the most rip-roaringly appropriate album for our times. But perhaps that is an exaggeration.

Chrysalis/EMI 82131332

Robbie Williams

The Verve - Urban Hymns

The Verve's latest album is a hymn to life. With opulent orchestral sweeps, it gently reassures world-weary souls. From the gentle "Sonnet" to the rolling "The Drugs don't work", this is post-Britpop at its finest. (It is also has the album cover that made Clarks shoes fashionable in London again).

Hut, distributed by Virgin CD 8449132

The Verve

George Martin - In My Life

A life-affirming collection of Beatles covers by the likely and the unlikely, brought together by the legendary producer of the band, George Martin. Notable contributions include Goldie Hawn's cabaret-bar rendition of "A Hard Day's Night", Phil Collins' faithfull "Golden Slumbers" and Sean Connery's wizened "In My Life". A stunning swansong to Martin's career.

Echo, distributed by Universal UMD 80420

George Martin

Garbage - Version 2.0

Garbage's mix of dark, febrile pop sensibilities with scuzzed-up electric guitars have been extended to their second album, Version 2.0. Influences this time range from the cooing vocals of Deborah Harry to the driving melodic rhythms of New Order. Singer, Shirley Manson sings like a woman possessed: from banshee hurls to the aforementioned cooing. There is anger in this album, there are also moments of gentleness, but the key phrase here is dark, febrile pop.

Mushroom, distributed by BMG 74321554102

Garbage - Version 2.0

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