Our Favourite Albums

Read the detailed reviews of these top albums, carefully selected and recommendeded by The Vault

Reviewed and written by Millie Pick

Lana Del Rey

Norman F***ing Rockwell!


Lana Del Rey, is an American singer, songwriter associated with several styles such as dream pop or baroque pop, touching on rock, indie music and hip-hop.  After releasing her single ‘Video Games’ in 2012, she was elevated her from a niche artist to a mainstream star.  Following this moment, her throaty, seductive voice and lyrics about toxic relationships and unrequited love has won her an plethora of awards including MTV Europe Music Award for Best Alternative Singer in 2015, and a Brit Award for International Female Solo Artist 2013.  Her sound has varied over the years, flitting from psychedelic and dusky tracks to light- hearted love songs while she discovers her voice through music.

‘Norman F***ing Rockwell!’ is Lana Del Rey’s fifth studio album where she contests ‘The American Dream’ in a series of songs concerning freedom and self-awareness.  The title of her album ridicules Norman Rockwell for his role in illustrating idyllic depictions of the American life, acting as propaganda for The Saturday Evening Post magazine for over nearly five decades.  In 2017, Del Rey refused to perform in front of the American flag ever again, as she believed it to be “Inappropriate” in a period when America is changing so dramatically.

My favourite song on the album is the title track ‘Norman F***ing Rockwell!’ which is the album’s finale.  It takes the form of a 16-word poem called ‘Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but I have it’.  Del Rey solemnly sings about how she is the “24/7 Sylvia Plath”, a poet who suffered a life of mental torment as a result of abuse from her father and the suffocating restrictions of  a woman in the 1950s.  She confesses her own struggles of her past involving her years of voluntary work with the homeless and her father’s death which creates a poignant and dark tone.  Del Rey finally confesses that “Hope is a dangerous thing for a woman with my past”, and while she still has “monsters still under my bed that [she] never could fight off.”, she continues to hold onto her hope. 

While her songs combings humour with chilling realities, Lana Del Rey poses a strong political statement in this poetic album.  Her albums are ever-evolving and continuously explore meaningful and substantial subject matter as she endures to discover herself.


Written by Millie Pick 07/09/29

Bear's Den

So That You Might Hear Me

Assembled in 2012, ‘Bear’s Den’ is a British folk rock band consisting of Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones.  The duo have recently released their third studio album, titled ‘So That You Might Hear Me’, which poetically expresses a thoughtful reflection on what it truly means to be human.  The unification of soft plucking of guitars and rich harmonies craft for a meditative and richly emotive album.

The opening track ‘Hiding Bottles’ begins with a melodious and dream-like plucking of a guitar which invites the listener into their narrative about the dangers of alcoholism.  An alternative-rock sound is thence established by the lively thrashing of electric guitars and the dominating presence of Davie’s vocals.  A follower of the band would recognise the folk origins of their sound but imbedded within a newly established electronic ambiance which helps to emphasise the powerful emotion in their meaningful lyrics.

‘Blankets of Sorrow’ is my favourite track on the album which is most reminiscent of their first album ‘Island’.  The warm harmonies act as a contrast to the energetic atmosphere projected throughout the rest of the album.  This is the last song on the album, and presents the narrative of connecting with someone who is no longer there – a subtle link to the title of the album.  The song is subdued and contemplative as the personal guitar sound and powerful lyrics explore the human emotion of sorrow.

In total, ‘So That You Might Hear Me’ has provoked me to contemplate the meaning interweaved throughout their lyrics as they explore important topics such as alcoholism and the prominence of death.  Bear’s Den has successfully achieved a thought-provoking while folk-infused album which has enriched my taste of music.


Written by Millie Pick


Sundara Karma

Ulfilas' Alphabet

 'Ulfilas’ Alphabet’ is the second album from the four-piece rock band Sundara Karma.  After two years break,  the band has invited their listeners into their knew daring, brighter sound.  The title of the album is named after the 4th Century Greek bishop Ulfilas, who created his own alphabet in order to translate the Bible.  Similarly, Sundara Karma has carefully crafted 13 tracks where they communicate a reoccurring sense of joy to their fan base.  This is a significant shift to the band’s sound, compared to their last album, ‘Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect’, which is built from harsh realities.

The album open with the futuristic track, ‘A Song for my Future Self’, which abruptly opens Sundara Karma’s new era with a bang.  A new sense of style is conveyed through tracks such as ‘Green Hands’, which declares an 80’s feel through jangly guitars and an optimistic influence.  Their lead single ‘Illusions’ contains bouncing hooks, therefore declaring a bold and confident feel.

My favourite track on the album is 'One Last Night on this Earth', an indie-pop thriller which narrates an alien invading Earth and discovering love.  Oscar Pollock, the band's front man, intertwines the track with tonal melodies which creates an impactful quality seen accross the entirety of the album.

In total, 'Ulfilas' Alphabet' is a feel-good album, spiced with spectral melodies and soaring guitar riffs.  The bright vision of the album is enhanced by the technicolour album cover, which helps to solidify the energetic atmosphere of each track.  I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the knew Sundara Karma album, and anticipate future explorations of sound and qualities from the band.


Written by Millie Pick



Bring Me The Horizon


Five-piece English rock band ‘Bring Me The Horizon’ were assembled in 2004, where they ignited their music career through the release of their first metal-core EP that year.  BMTH has been frequently labelled as a ‘shapeshifting’ band over the years, due to their unpredictable evolution of sound.  From album to album, the band has injected it’s sound with more melody, while slowly venturing after a more electronic undertone, hungry for a more metallic sound. 

The title of this album, ‘Amo’ , is the Portuguese word for ‘I love’ which is a theme that runs throughout the album.  However, BMTH showcases their ideology of love through it’s venomous aftermath and painful consequences.  This is particularly presented in the track ‘Medicine’, where the band describes their realisation after a failed love through the lyric, “Some people are a lot like clouds, ya know.  Cus life’s so much brighter when they go”.  This track, alongside the rest of the album, takes on a more arena-rock sound, through the retraction of guitar and the addition of electronic elements.  The track ‘Mantra’ seems to be the only song recognisable to the fans of their last album, ‘That’s The Spirit’, because of the fact that ‘Amo’ presents a pop façade.  The band’s unpredictable nature beaconed from this album, through their inclusion of creative risks such as ‘Nihilist Blues’.  This is a dark pop number that features the artsy pop artist ‘Grimes’.  This track begins by hammering like a rave, while the second verse acts as an electronic breakdown. 

My favourite track of the album is ‘Heavy Metal’, where BMTH mock their old fans, after they abandoned them because the band evolved from their heavier sound.  This track is intertwined with guitar riffs and a beatbox from the former ‘Roots’ member, Rahzel.  The beatboxing acts as not only the backing music but its own bridge, therefore forming the foundations of the track.

The souring melody’s in combination with the catchy tunes (particularly in ‘Mother Tongue’) create for a toe-tapping, head-bopping and  electrifying sixth album of ‘Bring Me The Horizon’.  Although the band has taken on a new sound, the album sits as my favourite at the moment, due to it’s meaningful lyrics and energetic nature. 


Written by Millie Pick


Paul Simon

In the Blue Light

On the 7th of September 2018, Paul Simon, former member of the duo 'Simon and Garfunkel', released his 14th studio album, 'In the Blue Light'.  The 76-year-old singer, song-writer and actor said in an interview, 'This album consists of songs that I thought were almost right, or were odd enough to be overlooked the first time around'.  Simon adapts these 10 neglected songs from his past solo catalogue by changing the lyrics and modifying arrangements and harmony structures, the process of which is described by Simon as 'a new coat of paint on the walls of an old family home'.  In creating this album, Simon paints a fresh coat of clarity and meaning over his undervalued songs, providing a new perspective.

It is clear when listening to the album that Simon's focus was on the storytelling lyrics which are often spoken, resulting in the tracks resembling monologues.  These lyrics discuss and bring insight to reoccurring theme throughout the album: what it means to be human.  Simon's truthful lyrics delve into themes of love, struggle and confusion, all of which are topics that listeners can relate and connect to.

A reflective and wistful feel is achieved through the album, particularly the track 'Some Folk's Lives Roll Easy'.  Throughout, the lyrics paint the scene of a man losing his way and wanting to escape the world.  Simon proceeds to turn to God and ask him for help and wisdom out of desperation through the lyric, 'Here I am, Lord/ I am knocking at your place of business'.  This track presents a powerful sense of emotion, enhanced by the dreamlike piano riffs and slow breezy tempo.

In reflection, 'In the Blue Light' has been a very thought-provoking album to listen to as Simon his honest with his listeners in the way that he sees the world.  He has raised interesting topics through his purposeful lyrics as he declares his retirement from touring.


Written by Millie Pick



Volume 1

BNQT, pronounced Banquet, is an indie supergroup consisting of Eric Pulido (Midlake), Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses), Alex Kapranos (Franz Ferdinand), Fran Healy (Travis) and Jason Lytle (Grandaddy).  Pulido revealed in a press release that this project was in the works since 2013, when he considered the formation of the five-piece band. 

'Volume 1' was recorded and self-produced primarily at the bands' studio in Denton, Texas where each artist wrote and sung 2 tracks of the album.  Resultantly, this created a dissimilar, yet united sound that's effective in its entirety in creating a cohesive album.  On the 28th of April 'Volume 1' was released, showcasing a mix of 70s soft/glam rock with influences of ELO, 10cc, John Lennon and Travelling Wilburys.  In total, this album presents huge variety, from Pulido’s' upbeat 'Restart' to Kapranos' gleefully weird 'Hey Banana'.  Despite this, all 10 tracks remain interlinked through Midlake remaining the backing band throughout.

My favourite song from the album is the intense album opener 'Restart', which features a rhythmic glam rock sound.  Throughout this track, Pulido expresses how he is 'older now' and 'broken but soon on the mend', revealing a sense of real emotion while maintaining a toe-tapping upbeat style.  In particular, this track is a throwback of a 70s nostalgic vibe that kick-starts the fiery album with head-bopping excitement; simply a perfect opening track.

I thoroughly enjoyed 'Volume 1' as I can confidently say that BNQT have created a brilliant concoction of breezy soft rock and groovy glam rock while successfully morphing all five fanbases into one wholesome community.


Written by Millie Pick


Doomsday Outlaw

Hard Times

Doomsday Outlaw is a five-piece band from Derby, who released their self-financed album 'Suffer More' in 2016, showcasing their hard rock/heavy metal sound.  This album was quick to receive glowing reviews and in response, Doomsday Outlaws have promised a worldwide re-release in November 2018.  As a result of the flaming success of 'Suffer More', the British band were signed by the Frontiers label, paving the path for their second impressive album 'Hard Times', released May 2018.  Yet again, Doomsday Outlaw were flooded with glorifying reviews and praise following their rockin' creation.

'Hard Times' presents a diverse variety of styles within their 11 track album.  From the groove mastery of the track 'Break You', to Phil Poole's expressive and soulful vocals in 'Spirit That Made Me': a slower but intense song.  This album is a sea of blues-based 'old school' rockers and passionate ballads, also known as the perfect combination to get your air guitar out.

My favourite track from 'Hard Times' is 'Will You Wait', a mixture of hard rock and a semi-ballad.  This epic tune begins with a mysterious sound and the listener anticipates the head-bangin' chorus as vocals, guitar and drums begin to build up.  The moment the awaited chorus hits, the song is elevated by an electrifying energy as Steve Broughton dominates the guitar.  This song contains hints of 'Whitesnake', while there is moments where Doomsday Outlaw's blues influences can be heard.

In total, 'Hard Times' is an ambitious and bold album by Doomsday Outlaws as they aim high through their diverse 11 tracks, yet maintaining a southern rock style.  To follow up their overwhelming success, the band hit the road in 2018 for their tour with Jizzy Pearl and Graham Bonnet.  This is a fantastic and wild creation and I, along with many others, hope that a third ingenious album is to be released in the near future.



Written by Millie Pick


Boz Scaggs

Out of the Blues


William Royce 'Boz' Scaggs is an American singer who has been crafting blues, jazz and R&B songs for five decades, including his hit singles 'What Can I Say' and 'Lowdown'.  Scaggs began his career as the guitarist for The Steve Miller Band in the 60s, before releasing his chart topping and Grammy award winning solo singles in the 1970s. This paved the road to success for Scaggs, as he continued to create meaningful and passionate songs.

‘Out of the Blues’ is the third album of a trilogy, beginning with ‘Memphis’ (2013) and then ‘A Fool to Care’ (2015), declaring a return to his Blues roots that sparked his career.  Scaggs' first two albums reflected his devotion towards his favoured blues sound however, this passion seemed to have simmered down during the 70s, where he transitioned to smooth disco and pop songs.  He decided to take an extended break between 1980 to 1988.  This album shows his audience that he has left his pink pop jacket behind him, and has ignited his blues sound once more.  

This 9 track blues album is commercial and accessible with a live feel.  There is a little over dubbing which creates a raw sound with intensity.  Out of the Blues truly defines who Boz Scaggs is, exposing the sheer joy that overcomes him when writing and performing the blues.  Almost half the album was written by his friend Jack Walroth, who drew influence from Bobby 'Blue' Bland and Jimmy Reeves, two of Scaggs' idols who helped to shape his style and sound into what we hear today.  Scaggs only wrote two tracks from the album, the rest are pre-existing songs carefully selected upon the meaning they exert.  This includes my favourite track from the album, 'On the Beach'.  This is a sombre rendition of Neil Young’s song, revealing the pain and struggle of living a life in the limelight.  'The world is turning, I hope it don't turn away' is a thought-provoking lyric repeated throughout the song.   These expressive lyrics in combination with electric guitar flourishes creates a rhythmic and Smokey atmosphere.

Through the entirety of the album, it is obvious that Boz Scaggs has enjoyed every moment while recording, and I can whole heartedly say that ‘Out of the Blues’ has been very entertaining to listen to.


Written by Millie Pick


Harry Styles

Self Titled

Harry Styles, aged 24, is the handsome heartthrob every teenage girl across the globe fantasizes over, and he is typically known for his role in the pop band 'One Direction'. Their reign lasted five years over which time the five members impressively sold more than 70 million records, achieved 14 UK number ones and stole the hearts of over 10 million fans worldwide. Since the boys hiatus in March of 2016, Styles has taken on a more mature sound where he seems to have drawn influence from the likes of David Bowie and Queen, which was a shock to the pop-loving 'Directioners'. It seems that Harry Styles is on the road to solo success, followed all the way by his wider, more varied audience.

On the 31st of October 2017, Harry Styles released his debut album where he toys with a seventies soft-rock vibe. Styles wrote the entirety of his diverse 10 track album in Jamaica in order to detach himself from reality and focus on his art. In this place of solitude, he dedicated himself to his untouched thoughts and feelings which is noticeable within the album where he uses multiple techniques like layering vocal passages and harmonies to amplify his raw emotion.

My personal favourite track on the album is Kiwi, where Styles recites his infatuation with a woman he met in New Zealand. This song in particular sparked an interest in many as he experiments with a hard rock sound, assisted with heavy drums and electric guitar passages. Kiwi is brimming with excitement and passion, electrifying his audience with the contagious buzz of head-banging fever

This is a direct contrast to the final song of the album: From the Dining table. Throughout this song, Styles expresses his sorrow and provides a mournful view towards the end of an important relationship. A sombre atmosphere is created by the slow tiptoeing melody and the melancholy lyrics as if carved by his heart. This is a brave song to release by the new solo artist as he reminds his fan base that he isn’t just an idolised silhouette of a 'perfect' human, but a person capable of feeling raw and heart-straining emotions.

The album itself is very thought-provoking and personal as it narrates the story of Style's romances, where his listeners are invited to hear about his playful, yet delicate feelings. I, among millions of others, are impressed by the vast variety of moods created within the album, reflecting Style's wild emotions. I can wholly state that I have very much enjoyed listening to this carefully crafted album and I look forward to his music in the future.


Written by Millie Pick








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