Some high quality albums from British artists this week, with Pet Shop Boys and Mercury Prize winners P J Harvey and Gomez all bringing great new material. Elsewhere, things aren't quite as strong, but we can't have it all, can we?

Pet Shop Boys - Yes The elder statesmen of English electropop prove why they were given a Brit award for Outstanding Contribution To Music last month with this, their 10th studio album. Sharing producers with Girls Aloud (Xenomania) could have made messrs Tennant and Lowe look a little like dodgy uncles at a wedding, but for the most part Yes proves that they've still got it in them. It starts strongly - opening track Love etc and the following All Over The World and Beautiful People are brilliant - but the album loses its way somewhere around track seven or eight. The ultimate tune, Legacy, is just embarrassing. Loyal fans will love it, but it remains to be seen whether a new generation will embrace Yes in the same way.

Rating: 7/10 (Review by Lucy Corry)

P J Harvey and John Parish - A Woman A Man Walked By The latest album from Mercury Prize winner Polly Harvey sees some-time collaborator and producer John Parish promoted to co-star. It's clearly a partnership made in heaven, as A Woman A Man Walked By - from the gritty guitar opening of Black Hearted Love to the dying keyboard tones on finale Cracks In The Canvas - is a breathtaking album. With Parish taking care of the music, it was left for Harvey to concentrate on the lyrics; all twisted tales of love gone wrong, ambiguous menace and the constant feeling she's either about to rip someone to shreds or burst into tears. It might have been announced as something of a side project by the artist herself, but it really doesn't matter - it's one of the best albums of the year, and indeed Harvey's illustrious career so far.

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Andy Welch)

Peter, Bjorn and John - Living Thing Stockholm's finest purveyors of self-aware indie pop take a no surprises approach to their fourth LP. Like their previous albums, Living Thing offers a grab-bag of ironic, and not so ironic, hooks and production touches borrowed from the last several decades of pop production, from Phil Spector to Stock Aitken Waterman. On the best songs, like the title track and Nothing To Worry About (the closest thing here to 2006's irresistible whistling hit Young Folks), arrangements are sparse and percussive, allowing the trio's Scandinavian pop sensibility and knack for vocal hooks to shine. Elsewhere, the band relies too often on inventive arrangements to compensate for lacklustre material, with limited success.

Rating: 7/10 (Review by Steve Kerr)

Great Lake Swimmers - Lost Channels The brainchild of singer Tony Dekker, Toronto-based Great Lake Swimmers have been making their brand of indie folk rock since 2003, and Dekker is not about to upset any applecarts with this release. Opener Palmistry chimes along with jangly guitars and mandolin reminiscent of early R.E.M., while the intimate acoustic atmosphere and close harmonies of Everything Is Moving So Fast recall Sufjan Stevens. Steven's work, and last year's Bon Iver album, make good reference points for the sound of this album. Ultimately, though, given the pedestrian song writing and production here, such comparisons flatter Great Lake Swimmers. In other words, very nice but a bit wet.

Rating: 6/10 (Review by Steve Kerr)

Gomez - A New Tide Calling an album something as enticing as 'A New Tide' can create unfair expectations. You could, for example, approach the 1998 Mercury Music Prize winners' latest effort in the anticipation of a thrillingly fresh direction - shoegazing instead of navel-gazing perhaps, or a Coral-esque grab for the mainstream. Instead, for better or worse, this is Gomez as you will remember them. Shuffling percussion, bold, earthy vocals and an amusingly perverse refusal to chase a commercial hook abound. While unlikely to earn them any more awards, this sixth LP confirms the five-piece as the finest delta-blues band this side of Southport.

Rating: 7/10 (Review by Rory Dollard)

Isaac Hayes - Black Moses and Juicy Fruit (Disco Freak) He spent his latter years singing about chocolate salty balls, but prior to his South Park stint Isaac Hayes enjoyed an illustrious recording career. Paving the way for R&B crooners such as Barry White, Hayes bought slow jams into the mainstream, blending deeply heartfelt and often sexually charged vocals with lush, sweeping orchestration. Following his death last year, Stax/Concord are reissuing two albums: one great, one commercially forgotten. Aside from two original compositions, Black Moses (originally released in 1971) is a collection of covers retold from the depths of Hayes' hot buttered soul. He succeeds in making tracks like Jackson 5's Never Can Say Goodbye and Carpenters Close To You sound weighty but vulnerable. Long out of print, Juicy Fruit, originally released in 1976, opens with a three-minute segment of Hayes chatting up a woman in the studio, setting the tone for a disco album that brings out "the beast" in the singer, and, as aptly described by one of the featured tracks, is essentially Music To Make Love To.

Rating: 8/10 (Review by Sarah Marshall)

Royksopp - Junior With just three albums released since their 2001 debut Melody AM, prolificacy isn't a concept Norwegian duo Svein Berge and Torbjorn Brundtland are overly familiar with. It's quality, not quantity however, and they have that in spades. Current single Happy Up Here, with joyful motif and breathy synthesized vocals, ushers in the summer a couple of months early, recalling Gallic pair Air in the process. With the music consistently good, each of the songs lives and dies by the performance of the guest vocalist, and none succeeds better than Miss It So Much, which features Swedish songstress Lykke Li. The Girl And The Robot, which boasts an appearance from Robyn, is the album's weakest link, however, its Euro-trance dirge sounds dated and out of place on an otherwise wonderful album.

Rating: 7/10 (Review by Andy Welch)

Ruarri Joseph - Both Sides Of The Coin 2009 may not seem like the ideal time to become the next James Blunt or Paolo Nutini - the predominant sound of the moment being far too female and electronic to serve those ends. But there is something about Joseph that pitches his acoustic yarns beyond such modest aims. On the surface, gentle ruminations such as One For the Aether and There We'll Be, are unassumingly straightforward but there is something winning and soulful about his voice that recalls Evan Dando's underrated solo career. A grower.

Rating: 7/10 (Review by Rory Dollard)

Buffalo 77 - Memento Like a cross between Keane and The Editors, this album is full of up-tempo, power-indie numbers. The title track is perhaps one of the more memorable songs, with vocals edging onto Jimmy Eat World territory. Given that in just two sentences three other bands have been mentioned, you can imagine it's perhaps not the most inventive album and as such you may feel tempted to stick with the other artists rather than invest in Buffalo 77. If you do decide to give them a chance, then you'll be happy enough with this strong but predictable release.

Rating: 6/10 (Review by Polly Weeks)

Official Secrets Act - Understanding Electricity According to their MySpace page, North London outfit Official Secrets Act sound like a band "You did not see. They do not exist." Oh dear, we're off to a bad start - they're lying to us already. What it should say next to Sounds Like is "Brandon Flowers singing along to record by The Cure, XTC, The Futureheads and Bloc Party." Maybe they tried writing that, but it wouldn't fit in the box. So Tomorrow brims with an inescapable energy, but there's little to recommend elsewhere on this dismal album. Repeated plays of The Girl From The BBC, with its refrain of "I like her, she likes me," possibly lowers your IQ as it goes on.

Rating: 3/10 (Review by Andy Welch)

Singles by Andy Welch :: Jack Penate - Tonight's Today Jack's back, and he's brought a new sound with him. He's not aping The Housemartins anymore. Instead, he does a good line in reggae-tinged guitar lines and nonsensical choruses.

:: Doves - Kingdom Of Rust To soften the blow of leaving us in the lurch for four years, Doves have done the decent thing and returned with an absolute stormer. We've heard the album, and this isn't even the best song on it.

:: Depeche Mode - Wrong 'Wrong' bellows Dave Gahan as the track opens, recalling his cry of 'Reach Out Touch Faith' on Personal Jesus. The rest of the track doesn't quite have that sort of urgency, but it's not half bad.

On the road Upcoming tours :: Manic Street Preachers have announced a tour to coincide with their new album. The Welsh stalwarts kick off in Glasgow on May 25, calling at Llandudno, London, Wolverhampton, Brighton, Dublin and finally Belfast on June 6. See for more details.

:: Ex-UB40 frontman, Ali Campbell, is heading out on tour. He begins in Bristol on June 19, ending up in Cambridge on July 4. For more details, go to