The cover of the Black Eyed Pea's eighth studio album, Translation, features rappers, and Taboo portrayed as Fortnite-esque virtual avatars.

It's a fitting image, symbolising their slow transformation from left-field conscious rap outfit to commercial self-parody.

At first Translation looks like a bald land-grab, a stab at co-opting the popular Latin pop trend.

But, shockingly, it is their best work since 2003's wildly successful Elephunk. and his crew have captured something missing in their work since the departure of Fergie - restraint.

Despite a never-ending list of guests (Shakira, J Balvin, Ozuna, Maluma, Becky G and more) Translation feels considered, groovy and refreshed.

Shakira turns Girl Like Me, a potentially overblown dance-floor banger, into something strangely intimate and moving, while J Balvin adds a dash of swagger to RITMO (Bad Boys For Life).

The Black Eyed Peas have found a vein of inventiveness. Let's hope they continue to mine it.

(Review by Alex Green)


It was around a decade ago that Jessie Ware first began to make waves, a club-ready vocalist elevated by collaborations with electronic acts including SBTRKT and Disclosure.

But in recent years, Ware faded into the mainstream. The Londoner's 2017 release Glasshouse verged on generic, struggling to recapture the excitement, and success, of her two earlier albums.

What's Your Pleasure? is a refreshing return to the dancefloor for Ware. The 12-track album is smoky, hazy and flirtatious with its intimate lyrics and a contemporary take on 80s disco and funk.

Ware's electricity in Save A Kiss could fill a sweaty nightclub - if they were open, of course - as her powerful tones pulse with the strings and synths.

Whispered verses build sexual anticipation in the sultry title-track, while Mirage (Don't Stop) is a hazy summer anthem featuring a subtle nod to Bananarama's hit Cruel Summer.

A return to music following the success of her podcast Table Manners, Ware's latest release is, undoubtedly, a pleasure.

(Review by Emma Bowden)


After 18 years away, Roy Ayers' return to studio recording is short but incredibly sweet. The eight-track JID002 was born out of a series of shows in his hometown Los Angeles and produced totally analogue with the aid of composer Adrian Younge and a Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad.

Perhaps partly for that reason, Ayers really feels like he's recapturing the 70s LA soul for which he's famed while absorbing some of the newer jazz styles he had such a great role in inspiring.

Highlights include the infectious funk bass on Soulful and Unique and opener Syncronize Vibration - a joyful throwback which could just as easily have sat on his classic record Everybody Loves The Sunshine.

Whether you're a jazz and soul aficionado or just want something smooth to accompany a sunny Sunday, JID002 is a delight from start to finish.

(Review by Stephen Jones)


With Women in Music Pt. III, Haim show there are melodies and textures aplenty to explore and do so with their customary elan.

The cover art shows the three Haims standing behind a bar, waiting to serve us - their sardonic take on Women in Music, perhaps?

Hard to say, just as it's hard to pin down Haim's sound here, with an almost Nashville vibe on The Steps, all yearning guitars and soaring chorus, but then elsewhere we find minimal band arrangements, velvety saxophone lines weaving in and out, lending a Jamaican flavour to the surprisingly ska-like Los Angeles.

But just when you think you've figured this album out, they serve up I Know Alone, a song that borrows beats from millennial UK garage and pairs them up with downbeat indie lyrics, and you wonder why no one else had thought of it.

Three singles released last year are included as bonus tracks, notably the catchy electro-pop Now I'm In It and the equally infectious nod to Lou Reed, Summer Girl.

(Review by Rachel Farrow)


Texan trio Khruangbin provide the perfect heatwave listening with their third album, a shimmering melting pot of styles and sounds.

Bassist Laura Lee Ochoa, guitarist Mark Speer and drummer DJ Johnson were originally influenced by Thai funk - the language provides the name, "flying engine" or aeroplane - but have always refused to be pigeonholed into any genre.

For the first time Khruangbin include vocals on most of the tracks, many on the theme of holding on to fading memories, although Father Bird, Mother Bird and closing track Shida are both instrumentals.

Opening track First Class is a lush funk groove, while Time (You And I) ups the tempo, classic disco punctuated by whooping syndrums built around a simple refrain, "Last night, if we had more time, we could be together, you and I forever".

We may not be able to travel but Khruangbin can, adding sounds from Pakistan, Korea, and West Africa, including Indian chanting boxes and Congolese syncopated guitar, while remaining firmly rooted in "H-town" - Houston.

It could be the soundtrack to a 1970s film that was never released, especially Connaissais De Face, which includes dialogue such as "He asked me to marry him/I'm not surprised", or to a half-forgotten dream.

(Review by Matthew George)