Album review: Various Artists, Late Night Tales; Friendly Fires

By Graham Reid

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Album cover Late Night Tales - Friendly Fires. Photo / Supplied
Album cover Late Night Tales - Friendly Fires. Photo / Supplied

The Late Night Tales series of invited-guest's mix-tapes succeeds or fails not just on the compilers' taste, but how they craft a running order of diverse tracks. Some smart invitees - Trentemoller's spooky collection and Midlake's post-folk theme come to mind - go for an over-arching mood, while others - 39 film theme snippets for At the Movies - never identify the plot, let alone lose it.

This excellent left-field nod to subtle hip-hop, soul-funk, disco and tripped-out ambient moods from Britain's 2009 Mercury Prize nominees Friendly Fires grasps the concept with assurance and an astute ear for post-midnight horizontal dancing. They pull together familiar names (although not always familiar songs) such as Renee, Stereolab, Sbtrkt, Cocteau Twins and Slowdive alongside cool cuts by Bibio (the head-nod Don't Summarise My Summer Eyes) and the ethereal One Most Memorable by Sonna with just enough mood changes to keep you from happy slumber. And Olivia Newton-John is understated on Elton's Love Song. As always, the collection ends with a reading, this time by actor du jour Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, War Horse) with Part 1 of Simon Cleary's bleakly funny Flat of Angels.

Whoever compiles the next LNT has big Hush Puppies to fill.

Stars: 5/5
Verdict: Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space

-TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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