Music to Your Ears – Arcade Fire, Lana Del Rey, and Julia Michaels

After that brief hiatus to the northern wonders of Iceland, I couldn’t bring myself to talk about any new music, as there was really only one new release of any note – Lana Del Rey’s Lust for Life. Given that it was a limited amount to discuss, I snuck that into this week, a much more diverse helping of singles and albums that we can delve into:

Julia Michaels – Nervous System

Debuting two songs earlier this year, the rock-hard hit “Issues” and the equally solid “Uh-Huh”, Michaels was due to come out big on her debut album. I preferred the latter single, but most pundits even positioned “Issues” as a candidate for song of the summer. Unfortunately, for as sharp as those singles are, there’s just no bite whatsoever to Nervous System. After the two fantastic songs end, some pedestrian lyrics escape Michaels’ mouth, and she sounds like a knock-off of Halsey, Sky Ferreira and any number of breathy singers of the week. I had high hopes for her, but there are a few too many issues here – the album is a mere seven songs, five of which are dull/predictable/typical. The beats that backed her first two songs sounded innovative, but then there are lackluster backing sounds that even Sia wouldn’t have used for the rest of the thing, which amounts to merely a disappointing EP.

Key Tracks: Issues / Uh-Huh / Seriously that’s it, just end there.

Arcade Fire – Everything Now

There’s been a lot of hate thrown towards Arcade Fire this week for their supposed “dress code” at an album release party, and while that may not be warranted, this album certainly isn’t the grandiose epic we all wanted it to be. After the first two albums, Arcade Fire has had a lot to live up to, especially after winning the damn Best Album Grammy for 2010’s The Suburbs. Their follow-up, 2013’s Reflektor, was underwhelming given its predecessor’s high quality, so they were due for a bounce-back. While it’s not quite going to reach the heights of previous efforts, there are several quality moments to enjoy, particularly the middle meat of the record, where Win Butler stylizes an otherwise creepy romance by asking someone to be the Wendy to his Peter Pan. Unfortunately, there are some troublesome spots where it seems the band is trying a bit too hard to please, such as when they reflect themselves with two tracks titled “Infinite Content” and “Infinite_Content” wherein the band doesn’t change much of anything, making you think the song is simply repeating. Luckily, the bright spots overshadow the low points, making this a fairly enjoyable outing. Die-hard fans will be grateful, while newcomers will be curious enough to dive deeper into their catalog.

Key Tracks: Creature Comfort / Peter Pan / We Don’t Deserve Love

Lana Del Rey – Lust for Life

Remember when we all thought Lana Del Rey was cheap, unoriginal and uninspired? Well those that loved her from the very beginning are in for a treat, since she’s stuck around another few years to prove those haters wrong. Unfortunately, she’s also back with one of her most derivative takes yet. Perhaps it’s that I was hoping for something with more of a spark, but Del Rey is satisfied with taking a long breath on the edge of the beach. Sure, that’s her style, but there’s no growth here, beyond have guest artists like The Weeknd attempt to lift her up, like in the title track. One aspect, both good and bad, is that it has 16 songs and lasts 71 minutes, an opposite problem from Julia Michaels. There’s also still proof in Lana having a powerfully talented voice, so there’s no worry if you’re heading to one of her concerts. I expect to revisit this at a later date, and perhaps I’ll be in a chiller mood for it – perhaps this would have been better for an autumn release, but Lana Del Rey is perpetually stuck in summer, so that wouldn’t make sense either. At least she’s finally getting her due, right? It’s kind of like Scorsese finally winning for The Departed…

Key Tracks: Heroin / Cherry / Get Free / Love

Kesha – “Learn to Let Go”

As frequent podcast guest Jimmy puts it, this new stuff is post-Ke$ha Kesha, which is especially accurate when you write it out. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – as we mentioned in our last single review for her, we here at Interjections are thrilled with the new empowered version of Kesha. As for this actual track, it sounds like more traditional beats and vocals than the previous two singles, especially since there’s no awkward chuckling or anything interrupting the vocals. In fact, this could be a b-side for Katy Perry, but given the temperament behind the creation of these recent songs, I’m loving what Kesha says here. This could be a new anthem for Kesha fans worldwide. Side note: After watching the above video, I think it’s fantastic. Second, it continued on into her first single, “Praying” which begins with a prelude that speaks insane volumes to her mindset. It’s beautiful.

Purity Ring – “Asido”

I’ve been a bit of a big fan of Purity Ring since 2015’s “Bodyache” earwormed its way into my heart, mind and top ten list from that year. The ethereal elements are ever present still, and the subject of the song – loneliness – spills over the speakers. In fact, it’s kind of obvious, given singer just repeats that she’s lonely over and over. Let’s hope for a little more subtlety in the next tracks, though the beats are welcome. I want this new album to be as chill as the last, if it doesn’t evoke heartbreak like the last it doesn’t make much difference.

The Killers – “Run for Cover”

A guitar riff starts this new single off, evoking more Foo Fighters meets Phoenix, which is refreshing for a band that had stylized itself for years as a new E-street band. I have to say, I like this even more than the last single. Even just on first listen, I’m ready to say this could be their best album since 2006’s Sam’s Town. Every box is checked here – Springsteen style lyrics, fast-paced downbeats, a danceable bass line, and it could easily back any radio station, particularly one of our favorites, Philadelphia’s 104.5. I am very surprised, but this was easily the highlight of the week for me.

Charli XCX – “Boys”

Twitter blew up this week about how excited they were that Charli was back with a hot new track. Sure, the songstress that brought us the anthem to The Fault in Our Stars needed a new hit, and luckily this is reminiscent of her song “I Love It” where she guested for Icona Pop. She sorely needed a hit after a disappointing EP, but this is…not for me. Good for her, but this is a club song for the ladies. Hey, it’s good, just not for me.

Don’t go far! There’s probably more music next…..ooh look, we’ll get stuff from whoa! Randy Newman.


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