On Deck | with Justin Poulsen and Chris Montgomery
If Diana Krall and Jaimie XX had a baby, he (or she...) would be named Rhye. With a honey-misted voice that caresses the tender drums and twiddling baselines, Woman marries easy listening with easy living. You’re not sure if you’re sitting in a smokey jazz basement or breezy star-lit cabana, but it’s successfully sensual.
Obviously vocalist Robin Hannibal is gender-bending his way to newsworthiness, which certainly influences the impressiveness of the album, but he’s got talent too. The instrumentals occasionally strike a pose with some well mixed horns and harps; but the majority of the album floats along with minimalist synths, allowing the majority of the harmonies to grow from Hannibal’s own voice.
It begins by climbing from an ambient dither to a wrenching combination of shouts and wails. It’s full of drawling diary lyrics that lead you back to the haunting malcontent of the 90’s. But before you get there random songs like “My Number” and “Out of the Woods” snap you back into a perky fast-stepping modern disco.
Holy Fire refuses to act as a soundtrack to your feelings; it dictates its own landscape of echoing guitar riffs, a near-beachy xylophone, and the occasional chorusing of cave vocals. You simply can’t listen to this album all the way through with one emotion. But no matter what song you’re tempted to skip to, it’ll be worth a full listen.
To the current generation, Bowie is known less as Ziggy and more as a walk-off facilitator, so he had a challenge ahead of him when he decided to bring us some new sounds. The title track kicks into gear without any hesitation. Bowie is still his old self, but keenly aware of the melodies that attract the younger audience.
Where Are We Now? Sounds like it could have been lost a few decades ago and re-discovered just in time to make the new album pressing. A beautifully reflective ballad shows a legendary artist realizing the important things in life. While they—let’s politely call them ‘experienced listeners’—will be taken on a refreshing yet nostalgic ride, it may fail to attract a new fan base for his next tour.
Back in 2006 the focus was all on bringin’ sexy back. Although after the 2004 ‘Nipple-gate’ one could argue he might not be the one to do it.
The big question after his surprise musical return announcement in January, was could he live up to the ridiculous expectations that come with former N’Sync members? ...Or at least some of them.
“Suit & Tie” wasn’t exactly what most people were expecting, but although Jay-Z for once in his life deadens a song, it showed that we were in for a Timberlake well in touch with his now post-30 age. The maturity and steady pacing stays the course throughout 20/20. While their aren’t the same club hits, the themes of love and lust still weave their way through.
Listeners may at first think the swelling strings of “Pusher Love Girl” are preluding the entrance of an A-lister at the Academy Awards, but soon the beat kicks in and the charming falsetto takes over.
He took his time creating the album and he takes his time taking you through it. With only one song falling under 5 minutes, it really is an experience to go through. Making use of the lengthy track time to journey from James Blake to Bollywood, JT clearly demonstrates yet again, a sophisticated and eclectic sound that proves once again why we should love everything he does.
After four years it looks like Phoenix is anxious to return to the pack of their synth-pop-pioneer peers—including the likes of Tegan and Sara and MGMT—who all emerged from the womb of the North American fame machine back in the mid-2000’s. But this time it sounds like Bankrupt! emerged from the womb—and the torrents—two months too early.
Bankrupt! is frustrating because it’s so close to being good but then just devolves into mediocrity.
It’s obvious that lead singer Thomas Mars is trying to add some gravitas to the band, extending his vocal range and holding on to notes in an attempt to shirk away from their earlier slap-happy party connotations. From the sounds of it, he doesn’t tell his fellow band mates about this new direction; their instruments refuse to give him any space.
The only soul-swaying moment of the entire album occurs at its heart— track five of ten—in the last two minutes of the primarily instrumental track “Bankrupt.” Here, all the electronics merely accessorize a peeping guitar line and the unmoderated muttering’s of Mars: “Forever is for everyone else...” And then the moment ends, and we’re thrown back into the struggle, thus making the album even more tragic than its contents.