Album reviews: Che Lingo – The Worst Generation, and Adrianne Lenker – Songs

Roisin O'Connor
·2-min read
Che Lingo (Sterling Chandler)
Che Lingo (Sterling Chandler)

Che LingoThe Worst Generation

★★★★☆

Che Lingo is an anomaly in the UK music scene. He’s one of the most versatile rappers of his generation, able to switch from classic grime to the slurring, cinematic menace of US trap. His debut album, the long-awaited The Worst Generation, epitomises this.

Che’s brash style of delivery recalls grime’s elder statesmen such as Kano or Skepta (particularly over the chirpy instrumentation of “South”), but he can just as easily emulate the surliness of late US artist Pop Smoke, as he proves on “Screwface”. On “A Bit Insecure”, he’s both sharp and introspective.

Features are carefully selected. A typically sharp Ghetts joins him on the brooding “Black Ones”, while he and Kojey Radical tackle their issues with masculinity and its impact on their love lives on the Bonobo-influenced “Dark Days”. Rachel Chinouriri’s honey-drenched vocals soothe the soul on “Perfect Wounds”, as Samm Henshaw offers some soul on the closer. This is an excellent debut.

Adrianne Lenkersongs

Adrianne Lenkerpress image
Adrianne Lenkerpress image

★★★★★

Even by pandemic standards, Adrianne Lenker is prolific. She already busy releasing multiple albums with her band, Big Thief, before lockdowns were announced and other artists started to wonder how best to occupy their time. Now, she's releasing two more.

Lenker has always been drawn to nature, and the opportunities it presents to explore favoured themes of life and death. Big Thief’s first 2019 album, UFOF, was a folk masterpiece recorded in a densely wooded area of Washington, US. Two Hands, a sublime follow-up released that same year, was made in the ferocious, hot surroundings of the Chihuahuan desert, in Texas. Both songs and instrumental, Lenker’s two new albums, had her so close to nature that she would lie in the dirt while recording. The cabin they were made in, she says, felt like the inside of an acoustic guitar – you can hear the reverberations on the striking “half return”, from songs, where her voice is brittle, childlike in its rock-a-bye cadence.

On “come”, the sound of rain pattering on the cabin roof precedes the cold-water shock of Lenker’s eerie vocals, delivering stark lyrics that sound more like a person's dying words. On “zombie girl” there are windchimes and bird song, as Lenker recalls the gorgeous phrasings of Bonnie Raitt. Songs was created because Lenker was, as she puts it, “on a whole new level of heartsick”. It’s excruciating in its honesty – even for Lenker, who’s hardly known for shying away from her feelings. Now she bares her pain with complete abandon. It’s quite extraordinary.

Read more

Matt Berninger: ‘I mansplain to myself why mansplaining is f***** up’

Big Thief’s new album Two Hands feels astonishingly alive

Strange Timez is the finest Gorillaz album in a decade