I’ve been listening to Florence and the Machine’s new album Ceremonials album for the past week or so and I’ve been pretty disappointed. There are only a few songs on the record that immediately stand out as being catchy, hooky, and good. The rest kind of blend together, carrying the same tone and emotion as each other.
I couldn’t really put my finger on why I found the album to be such a disappointment (as I had such high hopes after the great Lungs) until I read Pitchfork’s review of the record:
The same can be said of Florence and the Machine’s second album, Ceremonials, which can feel like Welch simply holding out a single note at top volume for an hour.
And that’s what’s wrong with the record. Most of the songs feel like you’re being screamed at, and when a slow song comes on there are still explosions of voice interjected at some juncture.
The first three tracks are great and instant pop hits. The rest of them I’m working at liking. I hate working to like art.
Beirut is back with their third album. It’s short but remains true to form. Clocking in at 33 minutes and 11 seconds with just 9 tracks you can’t help but come away from the album wanting more despite how solid each of the tracks are. Coming off the seemingly gigantic 13-track sophomore album The Flying Club Cup, The Rip Tide seems much shorter despite actually being only 5 minutes shorter.
Although not yet officially released, I’ve been able to listen and immensely enjoy Kanye West’s latest album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The man may exhibit an ego the size of a small asteroid, and he may be fluent in the art of public agitation – despite his last record being decidedly bland and dull – the one thing you can’t fault this man is his ability – when fully expressed – to create great and powerful music. And that is most certainly this record.
I don’t know where Kanye’s been over the past year – aside from his public altercations – but the man has certainly been going through a plethora of experiences. It’s impossible for a person to create music so deep, complex, and textured without the accompanying emotion and experience. Each track on this record (aside from the interludes) are wonderfully and fully developed. I haven’t listened to this record enough to be confidently conclusive, however from my initial listens I haven’t experienced one track that didn’t sound as if it was meticulously crafted, critiqued, and revised.
The sound of this record can be seen as a logical albeit large improvement from 808s & Heartbreak. The setting is dark and replete with an introspection greater than his first three albums. In comparison to 808s & Heartbreak this album is less dark and more lucid – there are no latent emotions holding back the quality of the tracks. The tracks on 808s bordered on angst and immaturity, dwelling and enjoying the pain that prompted the songs creation. What wasn’t apparent on 808s (but is now) was the turn Kanye has taken with the direction of his music. While once content to focus on poppy, radio-friendly tracks, Kanye began turning his attention to creating longer more complex tracks with 808s. On My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy we are now able to see his vision come into wonderful, beautiful, dark, and twisted clarity.
There is absolutely emotional anguish on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy however it is clear the pain and emotions have been logically considered and evaluated. Each track clearly relates to some aspect of Kanye’s life, however the presentation of his thoughts and feelings are wholly conclusive and confident. Kanye has collaborated with many great artists on this record, one most notable is Bon Iver of indie world fame. Bon Iver’s music is mostly acoustic and dwells in falsetto vocal harmonies. On the awesome track, Lost In The World, Kanye managed to combine the musical interests and talents of Bon Iver with his own to create a song that is haunting, catchy, and powerful. Incredible.
Leaving aside all Kanye-gossip, you can only come away from this record with respect and appreciation. Kanye West has once again proven to all that he is an excellent producer and artist. He has erased all doubts in my mind that he lost his ability to create great music. The man is talented, and this record is great.
If you live in the New England area and you haven’t gone outside yet today let me save you the trouble: it’s blisteringly hot out there. I had the luxury (or medical necessity) of sleeping in late today and I just stepped outside to test the weather, and I think the weather passed its exam with flying colors. I felt like I had put on a very warm blanket that was smothering the life out of me. It’s not only hot outside today but it’s as uncomfortable as a jacuzzi in Antarctica – something that I’d love to experience one day.
Hot weather demands hot music; music that moves your feet and gets your booty dancing. To celebrate the blistering heat of today allow me to introduce you to the debut album from Mayer Hawthorne, A Strange Arrangement, an R&B record with soul and character.
As I wrote yesterday The Roots have released their new album today, How I Got Over. I’m not an old fan of The Roots: the first album I heard of theirs was The Tipping Point, which I liked but didn’t get much replay from me. Over the years I’ve heard more of their music and gotten to know who they are as a band. Especially with their latest stint as Jimmy Fallon’s band.
After listening to How I Got Over I found myself liking it about the same as their last albums. As I said before, I’m not a huge Roots fan but this album is fairly solid. The highlight is without a doubt the track that shares the album’s name, How I Got Over. With a drum beat running at a nice clip, a mellow piano played over, and accompanied by strong vocals during the chorus, it stands out as immediately catchy and deserving of repeat listens.
However there’s other tracks on the album that do the same. Most of the tracks feature a strong drum beat, solid instrumentals over it, and a strong chorus that more-or-less pulls the song together. Really, I feel as though the album is comprised of songs with strong choruses and verses that go on for longer than anticipated. The chorus’ are undoubtedly catchy, but the adjacent verses come off as bland and repetitious.
I’m impressed The Roots were able to put together a full LP while moonlighting as the resident band on Jimmy Fallon. For that I give them major kudos. However the album itself I found – while enjoyable and calm – mostly unoriginal and bland. It’s good to put on in the background but I don’t see it ever taking center stage on my stereo.