Katy B - On a Mission (3.5/5). Programming those late-night dance shows on Radio 1 just got a lot easier. All that's necessary is to insert Katy B's debut album and press play. Over these 12 tracks, she explores a variety of contemporary and (recently) retro dance styles, including dubstep, garage, drum 'n' bass, etc. I'm not enough of dance music expert to tell which is which, but I do recognize the differences in the familiar sounds. The more upbeat tracks--"Katy on a Mission," "Lights On," "Power on Me"--contrast nicely with the mellower ones like "Movement" and closing downbeat track, "Hard to Get," during which she graciously thanks everyone who made her album possible. The perfect 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. soundtrack. Best: Lights On, Katy on a Mission, Why You Always Here, Movement.
Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys (3.5/5). With their last album, alternative band Elbow jumped a few notches up the popularity ruler going from modest success and a respectable following to enviable success and a mainstream following thanks to the success of The Seldom Seen Kid, which won the Mercury Award and went double-platinum in the UK. I enjoyed that album, but wasn't blown away by it, and my reaction to Build a Rocket Boys! is similar. I like the melodic build up on opening track "the birds," which is followed by the gentle optimism of "lippy kids." After those initial standouts, there's not much else that jumps out at me, although it's generally likeable, laid back rock. Best: the birds, lippy kids, with love.