Loosely centered around a new character (Nikki Pink) and a gang of biker women who roam the sunset streets of an eerie, make-believe vision of LA, it’s essentially a love letter to the ’80s sci-fi and fantasy films of her youth. She wrote the songs while working on a script of her own, and the starry-eyed, big-screen synth-pop of “Kids in the Dark” sounds like the soundtrack to the big romantic clinch in her own coming-of-age flick.
DJ Shadow’s latest is part-electro exploration, part star-studded hip hop mixtape
None of these experiments in sound and groove are bad by any means. But they may be a little too experimental for some, and as a collection it all comes across a little disjointed.
I felt that in part the disjointed nature of the album was something of a statement of our pathetic age?
King Princess has been one of this year’s most important pop artists and before 2019 is out, we’re getting our hands on her debut album, Cheap Queen.
Where last year’s All Melody, Frahm’s most ambitious album statement to date, attempted to bring together those two opposing poles—fashioning choir, strings, horns, gongs, pipe organ, and his usual welter of acoustic and electronic elements into a whole at once vast and hushed—All Encores takes a step backward, toward a simpler, sparer sound. In essence, it represents a set of rough drafts, avenues abandoned as All Melody assumed its final form. All 12 tracks here were originally released on a trilogy of EPs, remnants of a proposed triple album that never came to completion, exploring distinct corners of Frahm’s musical practice.
Telefon Tel Aviv were always downcast, but Dreams Are Not Enough sharpens and strengthens their most morose tendencies into a kind of probing and exquisite bleakness—what Eustis has described as “the rapture of despair.” The suffering is inseparable from the serotonin rush; it is storm-tossed sea and lifeboat all in one.
The album is formally inventive in a way we don’t often expect of music so firmly grounded in gloomy electronic pop. In the course of the record’s trim 50 minutes, it winds between sandblasted ambient and misty-eyed synth pop, industrial techno and chamber choir; there are echoes of Chicago acid and Arvo Pärt alongside apocalyptic sound design reminiscent of Ben Frost. The scale of the thing is enormous, suggesting cliffs cleaving into the sea.
The singer-songwriter delves deep into the hard-won life lessons that fueled her most epic music to date.
I also enjoyed Olsen’s interview on All Songs Considered, discussing the process of recording the album. One interesting take-away was that the album was originally recorded as a solo project, only to be transformed with the help of John Congleton, Ben Babbit and arranger Jherek Bischoff.
Place between Beach House and Sarah Blasko.
It’s a dislocated Elbow that you get on this proggy, restless record – but their sense of empathy is still strong
3 track album
Robin Hilton describes the album as ‘future pop’s:
Charli XCX makes wildly warped, genre-bending songs that are artful and adventurous but can still top the charts. On the English singer’s latest album, Charli, she collaborates with Troye Sivan, Lizzo, Haim and more for a sound that moves pop firmly into the future.(source)
While Debbie Carr suggests:
Charli may be laced with all the screeches and squelches of everyday life in one giant sensory overload, but at its core the album is a snapshot of the experimental era pop is moving into.(source)
For me, this album has the feel of speculative pop. It is true that many of the elements of pop are still present. However, the speculation comes in the way of form and production.
Nailing her distinct brand of art pop, Complex is the second album for Montaigne.
Place between Megan Washington and Bjork.
Flitting between melodies drenched in sadness and slap-in-the-face wake up call drum fills that have become her trademark, G Flip stretches her wings and flies from falsetto to direct yearning.
Place between Lorde and Maggie Rogers
Lover is the seventh studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on August 23, 2019, by Republic Records. As executive producer, Swift worked with producers Jack Antonoff, Joel Little, Louis Bell, Frank Dukes, and Sounwave on the album. Described by Swift as a “love letter to love”, Lover celebrates the ups and downs of love and incorporates brighter, more cheerful tones, departing from the dark sounds of its predecessor, Reputation (2017). Musically, it is a pop, pop rock, electropop and synth-pop record that contains influences of country, dream pop, pop punk, funk and R&B.
The album weaves love songs for self-destructive poets, psychedelic jam sessions, and even a cover of Sublime’s “Doin’ Time” through arrangements that harken back to the Laurel Canyon pop of the ’60s and ’70s. Throughout, Lana has never sounded more in tune to her own muse—or less interested in appealing to the masses.
In an interview with Joe Coscarelli, Del Rey provides some insights into the choice of Jack Antonoff and why it is time for protest songs. There is something ironic about Antonoff’s inclusion. Some may call out another failure to present anything original, yet Del Rey’s raw honesty seems prime for collaboration with the ‘superproducer’ (what is a superproducer?) As Antonoff once stated in an interview with Zane Lowe:
I want to work with people because they think that they are geniuses, not because I want make the albums that they have already made
Ann Powers provides a more critical take on the album and Lana Del Rey.
“The Centre Won’t Hold”, their ninth studio album, is their most experimental yet
I would place this album between Depeche Mode and St. vincent
9 track album
Liminal, both live and locally, takes the listener to a place neither here nor there; a “liminal” space.
Of Monsters and Men are clearly so capable of creating glorious tunes that are brimming with life, yet they seem to have resorted to mimicking a sound because its fashionable. Their clear talent is masked by trendy production and unimaginative writing. That’s not to say the album is bad, just disappointing as it feels like they have so much more to give. ‘Fever Dream’ is perfectly listenable, but missing the magic spark that made them smash successes when they first emerged.
On first the use of electronics and distortion feels uncanny, but after a few listens it finds its place. I had a similar experience with The National’s I Am Easy To Find.
Across the board, it’s a drastic step-up from 2014’s Monsters EP and the folksy strumming she uploaded to Unearthed back in 2012. But it isn’t a complete departure, it’s an evolution, you can hear traces of her earlier work in the songs that deal, like those releases, with love that’s not gone right.
For something different, here is Plum covering Bruce Springsteen’s Dancer in the Dark:
In her ongoing quest to both pay homage to a black cultural history and contextualize herself within it, she took advantage of her role as Nala in the super-CGI remake of The Lion King and hired a swath of African artists and producers for a new album inspired by the movie. The Gift is an extension of Beyoncé’s work and its themes of ancestry, self-love, spirituality, and family. But its main purpose is to showcase today’s African musical stars, putting their sound on an enormous platform using the commercial reach of one of the world’s biggest pop titans and Disney’s highest-grossing franchise.
Similar to Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther-inspired album and other recent globe-trotting works like Drake’s More Life and GoldLink’s Diaspora, The Gift is thrilling because of the diasporic connections being made through collaboration.
While the brooding pop singer can’t always shake the anodyne songwriting that plagued her past work, III is still Banks’ best album to date.
Place between Carly Rae Jepsen and Lorde.