Best albums of February: from Foo Fighters' 'Medicine at Midnight' to 'Conflict of Interest' by Ghetts

It's only the second month of 2021 and already we have some groundbreaking material

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - DECEMBER 07: Frontman Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters performs at the Intersect music festival at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds on December 7, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.   Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)
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An eclectic array of winning albums were released in February by artists young and old.

Foo Fighters reminded us they can rock out with a smile, while Nick Cave and Warren Ellis made good use of their time away from touring by heading to the studio.

Meanwhile, Ghetts could have already produced the grime album of the year and folk artists Lael Neale and The Staves reflect on life and death in a pair of well-assured recordings.

Here are the best five albums released in February, in alphabetical order.

1. 'Acquainted With Night' by Lael Neale

An apt way to describe Neale's beautiful and introspective album is that it's "Lana Del Rey without the polish".

The second album by the US singer-songwriter is both lo-fi and low-key, with folk songs conjuring up hazy memories (White Wing) and little moments of hope (Every Star Shivers in the Sky).

With the restrained mood sustained throughout, it’s best to listen to the album in one sitting to get a full measure of its fragile beauty.

2. ‘Carnage’ by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis

Recorded in little more than a week, this surprise release by Nick Cave and fellow Bad Seeds member and multi-instrumentalist Warren Ellis is the result of impromptu jam sessions.

With no expectations or concerts on the calendar, the album's mostly improvisational nature swings from throbbing electronica to gospel music and lyrics feature characters both menacing and troubled.

3. ‘Conflict of Interest’ by Ghetts

The third album by British grime artist Ghetts is already being lauded as one of the genre landmarks, following in the footsteps of Boy in da Corner by Dizzee Rascal and Dave's Psychodrama.

The hype is much deserved. Conflict of Interest is ambitious in both size and scope, as Ghetts details his turbulent childhood (in the seven-minute Autobiography) and reflects on the youthful angst that resulted in a rash of street crimes in the UK (Skengman).

With eclectic production, ranging from the skeletal to the funky, expect Conflict of Interest to be mentioned in plenty of best-of-the-year music listings come December.

4. ‘Good Woman’ by The Staves

This new album by the folk band made up of the four Staveley-Taylor sisters is a melancholy and, at times, inspiring meditation on life and death. It was informed by their mother's death and member Emily becoming a new mum.

Despite the hefty subject matter, Good Woman is a charming and woozy listen full of the siblings' trademark harmonies that are as beautiful as they are cathartic.

These qualities are best displayed in sweeping Satisfied and Sparks – the latter is a poignant exploration of the grieving process with all its insights and setbacks.

5. ‘Medicine at Midnight’ by Foo Fighters

Let's be real: even the most ardent fans could admit the Foo Fighters lost their sense of glee over the past decade, as they released a series of dark, bruising and relatively experimental albums. Frontman Dave Grohl seems to have acknowledged this by leading the band in their most infectious record since 1997's breakout The Colour and the Shape.

Over a brisk 36 minutes, Medicine at Midnight is full of rollicking grooves and fist-pumping anthems, such as Making a Fire (complete with a "na-na-na" singalong), Shame Shame and the sprightly closer Love Die Young.


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