By Joy Crookes

This debut album is not due out until October 15 but several of the songs are already available online and, if they’re anything to go by, it will be a corker. Of the title track, Skin, Joy has said: “Out of all the songs I have ever written, I think Skin is the most important to me. It is simple musically and lyrically, the lyrics are literal and self-explanatory: ‘The skin that you’re given, was made to be lived in. You’ve got a life, you’ve got a life worth living’.” The song appears to be about calling someone back from suicide. Tragic, tearful but also hopeful, made all the more poignant by Joy’s soulful, bluesy voice and perfect delivery. If you listen to this on YouTube, make sure you read the comments, some of them are heartbreaking. Another standout is When You Were Mine. Absolutely awesome intro, horns and old 1950s/60s style tied together with a unique voice that sounds a bit like early Any Winehouse. This is a girly anthem that we promise will be a chart hit and a superb singalong. And we love that the Bangladeshi-Irish singer is still referencing her London roots with a nod to Brick Lane. She will also re-record 2017’s Power for addition to the album showcasing the development of her voice from then to now. If you can’t wait for the official release, we recommend a YouTube binge in preparation. We did and didn’t regret it.

Loving in Stereo
By Jungle

Having first heard Jungle, the British electronic duo of Josh Lloyd-Watson and Tom McFarland, at a bar in Sri Lanka a few years ago, we’ve been waiting eagerly for new music from the pair and Loving In Stereo does not disappoint. Opening track Dry Your Tears introduces an almost cinematic theme with a short tuneful choral interlude. It makes a reappearance later on Keep Moving leading into a floor filler that put us in mind of the Scissor Sisters with some great falsetto disco that gets cutely trippy at the end. Lifting You and Bonnie Hill are two real feel-good tunes with great lyrics. One of the YouTube comments on the latter is that ‘this is a total eargasm’. We couldn’t agree more. In a departure from the poppy theme, Romeo Ft Bas is reggae sounding with a bit of rap – it’s a collab that really, really works. It keeps up the summertime sound and the smooth voice of Bas suits the Jungle style perfectly. Truth is unashamedly retro, think back to the early days of groups like the Thompson Twins and others who managed to include lots of voices. And No Rules, defies description. It’s electronic with a decidedly psychedelic feel. From disco to reggae via a touch of psychedelia, this album truly doesn’t have one duff track.


Are You Enjoying?
By Mira Sethi

Mira Sethi’s debut book Are you Enjoying? is a collection of short stories, a comprehensive critical reflection on South Asian society, set in the bustle of life in contemporary Pakistan. Her characters hop out from the pages – their voices, their opinions. Their world is an infusion of modernism reinforced by customs and traditions. There is a colourful cast of characters, including a naive actress who has a rude awakening when witnessing the sleazy world of showbiz and a news anchor grappling with the aftermath of his divorce and newfound obsession with his white, American neighbour. All in all, this book highlights aspects of Pakistani liberal culture that not many people are aware of.

The Face: Strangers On A Pier
By Tash Aw

Tash Aw’s latest offering takes us on a journey of introspection into his own history, as he reflects on his heritage as an ethnic Chinese, a child of Malaysia, and a citizen of the world. His beautifully drafted personal essay Strangers on a Pier examines the rich diversity of a slice of contemporary Asia via his own family’s immigration and an educational experience. The essay also covers his relationship with his family. He does not argue against migration but rather explores the process and how he navigates through differences in culture and language. This is an intimate exploration as the writer muses on the lives of his ancestors and contemplates the trials and tribulations that have cropped up in his own experiences and the effects of the past on the current generation.