Albums to watch

James Blake, mystified as to just how his 2nd album is still on a lower rating than his debut

The week in ADM

Michael Palmer on how The Big Three fared in this week's critical chart action

There's no escaping the fact that this week has been dominated by three albums, with everyone else struggling to get a look in. Critics were climbing over themselves, desperate to have their say on the Big Three: James Blake, Kurt Vile and The Knife.

Last week ended with James Blake sitting on a 7.8, needing some big numbers to match his debut's 8.1. Well, a 10 from TLOBF, a few more big scores and he finds himself averaging 8.0. Almost, James. Almost.

Improving their 7.6 from last week to a 7.9, doesn't sound like much, but it keeps The Knife right at the top of our chart. But despite almost universal praise, still no perfect 10s.

And no less than 23 reviews for Kurt Vile with only The Independent on Sunday scoring it less than 7. Critics love his laid-back attitude and reckon he's made his best album yet. According to our chart history, they may be right too.

Outside of this week's Big Three, the first reviews are in for the new effort from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, probably the last members of New Rock Revolution with their reputation still intact. They have released three albums so far, each of them earning the YYYs a Grammy nomination - will it be 4 from 4? Probably not, say our panel of judges. Only a handful of reviews in, but a 6.5 average is all they can muster so far.

We have more Old Band New Music, this time 1979's New Wavers OMD! They released album number twelve this week, to critical sort-of-acclaim-i-guess. Every review between 6 or 8 suggests our sources think it's ok. "Pretty good, I suppose," is not a quote from any source.

Former guitarist from The Coral, Bill Ryder-Jones seems to dislike the spotlight, but his new album seems not to mind it at all and is basking in a 7.5 average. Six 8/10s and two 7/10s is not doing Bill's shyness any favours.

After former band members dismiss them as a nothing but a major-label's vehicle to make Heyley Williams a pop star, Paramore decide to try and prove that they are a proper band after all. Now a three-piece with a new "take no prisoners" attitude, their fourth album charts with a 6.8. Believe it or not, the exact same rating as their last album. Who'da thought?

Elsewhere: Hiss Golden Messenger join the cluster of albums on a 7.9, A Hawk And A Hacksaw's Eastern-European flavour impresses our sources, LA folk-rock (you get folk music in LA?) band Dawes find themselves on a 6.9, and for those keeping score, New Kids On The Block still sit bottom of our current releases chart. Aww.

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