EP: Pixies - EP1 (Self released) ****
THERE are two types of people in this world - those who know that the Pixies are one of the greatest rock 'n roll bands that ever lived, and those whose opinions are not worth your time.
Black Francis's Boston four-piece disappeared for years then reformed in a blaze of wonderful nostalgia in the noughties.
This is their first official release in 20 years - other than two standalone singles - and while saying it has been worth the wait might be overplaying things somewhat, it is certainly no disappointment.
There isn't a bad moment among these four tracks - all of them will fit perfectly into their live set, but old fans will notice the lack of departed bass player Kim Deal's gorgeous backing vocals.
Andro Queen is an understated amble through a tale of a woman who clearly caught the attention of Black Francis, who treads familiar ground with one verse sung in Spanish.
Another Toe features a typical, catchy Pixies vocal melody, underpinned by Dave Lovering's direct and powerful drumming.
The EP's lead track, Indie Cindy, boasts a spoken verse that lets Francis do his thing in that almost obnoxious style that he does so well.
The way in which he delivers his cutting, funny lyrics is like being given a dressing down by the much smarter, cooler kid at school. You just have to listen and nod along.
Arguably the best track here is What Goes Boom - a riotous three-minute indie epic in the classic Pixies quiet/loud/quiet formula.
Hopefully this release hints at more new material to follow. But just in case that turns out not to be the case, don't pass up the chance to get your hands on the limited vinyl release.
A fabulous and welcome return by probably the most important guitar band of the last 30 years.
A digital download version is also available.
Album: Arctic Monkeys - AM (Domino) *****
Many groups have been labelled the best or most important British band since (insert name of fallen heroes here), but none have had the diversity of arsenal with which Arctic Monkeys can attack.
And so we'll say it with absolute sincerity - the most important British band of the last 10 years are back with their fifth album, and it's an undeniable masterpiece.
AM is, from start to finish, brilliant.
Ever since the band hooked up with Queens of the Stone Age supremo Josh Homme on their third record, Humbug, they have adopted Homme's beautifully dirty guitar sound.
Every riff cuts through with delicious arrogance. For evidence, just listen to the crowd at Glastonbury this year singing the guitar line to Do I Wanna Know?
That song opens this record and sets a quite remarkable tone.
It is followed swiftly by another familiar tune, R U Mine? Out for just a few months as an unofficial b-side to Do I Wanna Know?, it's already a classic.
And so on to the all-new material. One For The Road is a laid-back affair which illustrates the band's ever expanding list of influences.
Jazzy and sleazy, it's a great indication of where the band are at musically.
Arabella is a different beast altogether and you could easily imagine Snoop Dogg rapping over its hip hop verses. But when it hits the chorus, the Monkeys go all Black Sabbath.
It's another of those instantly classic riffs.
I Want It All is the closest thing to a Britpop tune on this record, bouncing along all carefree and cheerful. Alex Turner is on typically wonderful lyrical form, and he even shows off some falsetto skills.
Turner is fast becoming the new Morrissey when it comes to the words he puts to his music. Lyrically, there is no-one who can touch him.
No.1 Party Anthem is anything but. Instead it's this album's Cornerstone, a beautiful ballad drenched in typical Monkeys wit and refreshingly free of sentiment.
Fireside and recent single Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High? are other highlights, but there's no filler on this album.
Arctic Monkeys are a band at the peak of their powers, and as a live prospect they are a cut above the rest.
Get some AM in your life.
Album: Goldfrapp - Tales Of Us (Mute) ***
THE first thing that always strikes you about Goldfrapp is singer Alison's incredible voice.
Even on their most chart-friendly pop tracks, Alison's talents steal the show.
And on Tales Of Us, their sixth album, she is given room to really cut loose.
On the whole, this is a more relaxed album, devoid of the perfect pop of previous singles such as Strict Machine or Ooh La La.
Drew is a particularly good example of Alison's sultry vocal stylings, while Simone is as atmospheric as it's possible to be with just a piano and a voice.
This is not an album to dance to, it's a vehicle for Alison's voice.
And when she's on this kind of form, that's just fine by us.
If you like the sound of Pixies, Arctic Monkeys and Goldfrapp, check out Stef Lach's Spotify playlist for this week - a selection of tracks from similar artists to those featured in this week's reviews.
Like Pixies? Check out...
The Breeders - Divine Hammer
The Martinis - Free
Like Arctic Monkeys? Check out...
The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?
The Young Knives - The Decision
Like Goldfrapp? Check out...
Little Dragon -Looking Glass
Rufus Wainwright - Do I Disappoint You?