Duffy , Stepping Stone, Single, A&M, September 1****
One of the best tracks from her massive album Rockferry, Stepping Stone offers a glimmer of what Duffy's always lacked - honesty.Where Amy Winehouse has always sounded heartbroken, and Adele's vocal is pleading and tearful, Duffy's throaty, 60s sound has been devoid of emotion. Until now.
Her latest single sees the doe-eyed Welsh warbler adding a more human depth to a delicate, moody track.
It's a tear-jerker - she's standing her ground and refusing to be walked all over again.
Pulsating but sparse, like Dionne Warwick's Walk On By, it forces the listener to focus on her creeping vocal.
Friendly Fires , Friendly Fires, Album, XL, September 1 ****
It's taken more than two years for the electro trio's 37-minute debut to see the light of day. But despite having just two singles and a couple of EPs behind them, Friendly Fires' album sounds spookily familiar.
A lot has happened in the past few years, and a band who started off as one of the most exhilarating new bands on the live circuit have quickly aged.
Foals pipped them to the post, releasing the brilliant Antidotes back in March, and they could have just missed the boat, which is a shame because this is a great record.
With Late of the Pier's chaotic explosion of blips and bleeps, and a smattering of lo fi shoegaze guitar, it catapults the listener through a dance floor friendly dreamscape.
Single Jump In The Pool is brimming with energy and atmosphere. Singer Ed Macfarlane's vocals recall David Byrne Ð a slightly manic, distracted rant.
Overall it's a thoughtful, imaginative album which could prove to be one of the surprise hits of the year. Surely there's room for one more indie/
Little Jackie, The Stoop, Album, Parlophone, September 1 ***
Those who remember Imani Coppola's '97 hit Legend of a Cowgirl will be surprised to hear that the same woman is behind Little Jackie.
A hyperactive hybrid of sunshine pop, Motown rhythms and quirky hip hop, Coppola's new project sounds like Kelis covering Lily Allen.
Full of sassy, girl power lyrics, she takes no prisoners, laying into anyone who dares step in her path. An album highlight, Black Barbie, pokes fun at celebutantes like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, while 28 Butts is a tongue-in-cheek look at Bridget Jones-esque nights home alone.
The record's first single tells you all you need to know about Little Jackie."Yessir-eee the whole world should revolve around me," she pouts. It's Disney pop with attitude. Silly... but damn addictive.