No sooner had we wrapped up last week’s review, when new music arrived this Friday! It’s amazing how that works, isn’t it? Anyway, let’s just go for it:
Robyn – Honey
Like an ’80s fever dream, the first album from Robyn in eight years gets under your skin with a cold sweat. Pulsating with come-ons and love remarks, this is 2018’s sultry surprise – a la St. Vincent – blistering pop that urges you to leave the comfort zone of your bedroom and dance out a window into the clouds. Robyn builds on last week’s goodwill led in by the mø album Forever Neverland, pushing the vibration even further down your legs until you find yourself caught up in a dance. Madonna comparisons probably fueled her earlier works, but I was late to the party. I’m just glad I showed up at all, this is likely one of the most powerful pop records of the year.
Key Tracks: Ever Again / Missing U / Send to Robin Immediately
Hush Kids – Hush Kids
Of all the folksy duets out there, this debut with married session players Peter and Jill Andrews is one of the loveliest. There’s a hopefulness in the face of a dark untangible mess the world has become, and songs like ‘Morning Is Made’ and ‘Goodbye Rain’ are tailor made for an uplifting spirit in a fading season. An autumn wind brushes through the air on ‘Beauty All Around’ ushering in a calmer time. It loses me a bit in “Oasis” but there’s a trumpet defiantly urging a catchier beat, subsequently answered on the feistiest track on the album, “Talking to Myself”. When they’re indulging in their own instruments, ‘s vocals resound masterfully. They should take note that they may be a peppier band than they give themselves credit for, and use that next time around. They’re primed for a bigger stage, so it’s time we give it to them.
Key Tracks: Morning Is Made / Love Is a Made up Word / Talking to Myself
John Legend – A Legendary Christmas
That’s right, everybody. Christmas is upon us, a few days before Halloween. This happened last year with Gwen Stefani, and the year before that with Pentatonix. So naturally, Twitter hero and recent EGOT completer John Legend is this year’s advent sign of the coming holiday season. So how does his Christmas album stack up? Starting out with a Stevie Wonder duet is assuredly a power move, and one that pays dividends. Before you even get to a standard, you have a legend kickstarting Legend’s holiday crooning. Trumpets and flutes abound in a ’70s inspired reverie over his rendition of ‘Silver Bells’ before it gives way to one that always seemed meant for his voice: ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’. That retro feel continues as Legend emulates his best Buble, albeit making it his own as best he can. ‘No Place Like Home’ and ‘Purple Snowflakes’ are definitive originals that deserve their place on your record player as family sits around the dinner table for Christmas Eve. In the pantheon of annual Christmas releases, this may remain in many hearts for years to come, and there’s a reason Legend is one of the best out there. It’s about time he gifted us a Christmas release.
Key Tracks: Purple Snowflakes / Silver Bells / Please Come Home For Christmas
Joji – BALLADS 1
Deep and brooding, I wasn’t sure at first what to make of Joji. The sound gets under your skin, but it almost immediately feels right at home. A metronome balances against a plinking piano to introduce the pseudonymous Joji, that bastard who helped usher in the Harlem Shake a few years ago. That’s right, his real name is George Miller, but he’s had several projects of varying degree, including one that brought the viral video to life. Here he’s created a mood-piece artist that strives to illuminate the shadows in the corner of your mind. The eerie ambience never diminishes from the power of his voice, and it’s clear he’s a master at manipulating levels and fade, well beyond his talents as a singer or instrumentalist. At times it almost sounds like a minimalist Thundercat, as lo-fi as he already is. You want some excellent driving/working/walking/chilling music? It’s right here.
Key Tracks: SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK / WANTED U / YEAH RIGHT
The Struts – YOUNG&DANGEROUS
They make me think of a better version of last week’s obvious Zeppelin salute, Greta Van Fleet, albeit closer to Jet in this case. They’re not going to be breaking any records – but a few hearts along the way will suffice. There’s a dearth of solid Brit-rock these days, so I’ll take it wherever I can get it. By now I’ve probably said that enough, but any time a truly solid group pops up, I’ll take it. Luke Spiller has the swagger of Mick Jagger, the soul of Michael Jackson, and the ear of David Bowie. His knack for song stylings aren’t going to reach much further than the stratosphere, but we all need some rowdiness in our lives once in a while. Spiller is his best w\hen he goes all out, so when they settle down, it’s a sport of disappointment. Kick the ball back into high gear and we’ll play along.
Key Tracks: In Love With A Camera / I Do It So Well / Tatler Magazine
Okay, that was painless. Let’s keep it going next week with…Barbara Streisand? Maybe The Prodigy will start November off right? Eh, we might save it for a week and skip right to Muse and whatever else comes out those first two Fridays.