After giving a dub makeover to the entirety of Dark Side Of The Moon, OK Computer and Sgt Pepper, Easy Star All-Stars make what feels like a lazier choice with Thriller (here "translated" as Thrillah, of course). Unlike Pink Floyd, Radiohead and The Beatles, Michael Jackson's disco beat is already halfway there, particularly when it's only the odd "Uh hu! Easy Star!" interpolation by a toaster that gives any reggae credentials to the funky soul sax and gospel-ish backing vocals on Wanna Be Startin' Something (an opening track that, at eight minutes in length, truly tests the patience).
The Sly & Robbie-style approach to the rhythm section on Baby Be Mine is a marked improvement, as the keyboard vamp is pushed off the main beat and the horns bring some ska colours to the sound, although I'd still argue that the vocal is more soul-disco than anything else. To these ears, the title track and Billie Jean are taken too slow, and it's the harder-edged covers, particularly Michael Rose's contribution to Beat It (which takes on a Black Uhuru vibe), that work best. A few favourite tracks are worth a download, but Thrillah doesn't work within the complete album cover concept.
Talking of concepts, America, the latest from composer-musician Dan Deacon, attempts to capture the politics and geography of the US in instrumental sound. And it does, particularly if that concept was being rendered by Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams on a holiday to Ibiza. The influence of the great American minimalists is at the core of USA, the four-movement avant-garde pop symphony that forms the second half of the album, but elsewhere Deacon incorporates heavy drumming that veers between tribal and jazz (Guildford Avenue Bridge), a torrent of Nymanesque baroque (Prettyboy), joyful electropop (True Thrush) and the kind of thing that fills the gap left by LCD Soundsystem (Lots and Crash Jam). Everywhere the sheer euphoric joy of music floats over the most strictly regulated of rhythms.
There's nothing as substantial as this on The Light Between Us, the third album from Scouting For Girls. If anything, these purveyors of major-label piano-led pop have shifted their musical appeal down a further age bracket, and are now peddling la-la-la boy-band stuff via sub-Take That vocal arrangements and arm-wavy pseudo-rap. There's still something lecherous lurking in the corners of their lyrics, however, from the "I want you back naked" refrain that opens the album on Without You to the ogling of girls in their dresses on Summertime In The City.