Distractions are no fun – with my birthday this past week and work consuming most hours, I fell behind on patching together the next handful of reviews. Let’s dive in to some recent music (really just stuff from the end of June):
Florence + the Machine – High as Hope
Cue the waterworks, Flo is on fire here. I think I mentioned in the preview review for stellar single “Hunger” that I think she’s an even better orator than Adele, pulling off her style with some flair. “Kiss with a Fist” seems a distant grungy memory now, with ten tracks dedicated to rough breakups, hardship, and finding hope in fellow female rock stars. The often serious lyrics are undercut by such melodious intonations that you’re taken aback by the craft presented by the South London performer. This is simply a must listen, an emotional sitdown with one of our most talented singers.
Key Tracks: Hunger / Big God / Patricia
Gorillaz – The Now Now
It’s strange how Damon Albarn’s simian supergroup had such high anticipation surrounding their last album Humanz, yet this barely made a whisper. Is the fad fading away, like Noodle once did? I think it’s more holding to my theory that double albums are simply never a good idea, thus Humanz being a disappointment (at least to me). This is tighter, reserved in lyrical design, but aware of its chill DNA. “Superfast Jellyfish” emerges in the first single, “Humility”, while there’s fresh Russell beats loading throughout “Hollywood”, both of which are the only guest appearances on the record (George Benson, then Snoop Dogg and Jamie Principle respectively). That may be another thing that dragged their last album for me. Letting Albarn loose to set the pace again is a better look for the animated auteur.
Key Tracks: Humility / Souk Eye / Tranz
Drake – Scorpion
Remember when your creative writing teacher passed out an assignment and that one weird kid just patched a handful of words together and the teacher just wept, proclaiming it was art? Drake is what it feels like if that kid actually found success instead of whiling away at a community college pretending he still might find that spark. I digress, though, people. Aubrey Graham is clearly a talented performer, and might even have some talent in writing. Here’s the thing, this is a double album. And if you’re reading closely, you’ll notice that I don’t abide so much music packed into one performance. You get too many mediocre filler tracks, which is very much the case here for the Toronto native. There are some bright spots, as there always must be in double albums, such as the softspoken “Summer Games” that splits the record in two. It’s actually this middle section that does Drake the best justice, as he flares out with vindictive vitriol alongside tender recollection, blending the two with deft vocalizations. It’s a shame he had to pad a good album on both sides with dull bookends….especially that dire “God’s Plan”.
Key Tracks: Is There More / Summer Games / Nice for What
Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
Taking a chance on a quirky name can be a dicey gamble. You might have a gem like Rock Kills Kid, a stellar power pop group that fizzled after one 2006 album. On the other hand you could have Thirty Seconds to Mars, which besides the infuriating physics that Jared Leto is ignoring in the band’s dumb name, is an overrated bro sing-along gone wrong. Let’s Eat Grandma is firmly in the former camp, and I’m hoping that this second effort from the new duo of Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth won’t be their last. It’s not quite fuzz pop, but the wall of sound they produce is reminiscent of Chvrches or Silversun Pickups, sans synths. There’s still a brilliant use of instrumentals here, and they mix in an entrancing way. I’m all ears, and so should this audience – heck, we’re called Music to Your Ears! This was made for us!
Key Tracks: I Will Be Waiting / Snakes & Ladders / The Cat’s Pyjamas
With that, we wrap things up for the spring. Since you’ve all been nice and patiently waded through those sloppy reviews, here’s my playlist for the Best of Spring 2018! There’s some returning favorites, new surprises and a heck of a lot of pep! Who doesn’t love pep?