This is functional, engaging music, even exceptionally so, but it never seems to have a real, vested interest in being anything beyond that.
A record that’s all too often content with mediocrity even though its finest moments reveal just how close it came to greatness.
Heard consecutively, these songs sound disappointingly like one another, and while one good belter about the pain of unrequited love is a blessing, nine in a row turns out to be real drag.
This album succeeds in ways You’re A Woman never could have, and for that, it requires commendation.
The stakes of this music are so high – dizzyingly high, perilously so. Life-or-death high. Perfect Pussy are so good, it ought to embarrass most of their peers.
As the trio continue to remould and refine their craft, Mess, an album fuelled by impulse, demonstrates their ideological core hasn’t moved an inch.
It finds Furler in stark, naked view. But I can’t muster more than a nod of admiration. Sia deserves a crowning accomplishment to match her phenomenal talent and remarkable story.
Is it surprising that a 67-minute Ariel Pink album is a bit, err, frustrating? No. Yet as murky and goofy as Before Today was, it took its time to build overall atmosphere, instead of little fragmented half-atmospheres that you have to cherry-pick from songs unworthy of them.
Ørsted’s debut LP wears its history heavily, composed of equal parts previously released and new material. It is a risk for an artist as dependent on earworm shock value as Ørsted, but a deliberate one that yield dividends at the end of the day.
On The Moon Rang Like a Bell, Hundred Waters offers an album of quiet moments of subtlety juxtaposed with crashing waves of desperation.
These sonic tweaks are welcome, but they are merely the fine grain of an album that works in broad, hypnotic strokes – song by song capturing feelings of separation, exploration, and uncertainty.
Deep Fantasy is incisive and immersive. It has real depth and space, even color: it’s filled with exquisite little turns, playful flashes of sound-for-sound’s-sake brilliance.
Do It Again remains impressive, if not extraordinary, from beginning to end. Röyksopp and Robyn for once sound like bandmates, rather than guest stars on one another’s solo work.
What Broke With Expensive Taste so forcefully reminds us is that we have all been waiting for Azealia Banks, even if we had briefly forgotten her in a haze of blogosphere backlash.
It’s one of Snaith’s least cohesive and affecting full-lengths, even as it provides us with some of his strongest individual tracks to date.
It doesn’t provide the thrill-a-minute jolts of Light Up Gold, but Parquet Courts may yet become a garage punk band that millennials can call our own.
Compared to the tedious Total Loss, done in by consistently plodding tempos and an icily ascetic atmosphere, the new material (produced by Rodaidh McDonald) is much more dynamic and is in audible conversation with Krell’s peers all around the pop landscape.
Throughout In Conflict, Pallett opens up his compositions even more than his lyrics, but the songwriting is no less brainy, and themes no less tangled, than on his earlier work.
Beck’s voice, most often doubled and sometimes tripled, omnipresent and in conversation with itself, binds and elevates this, his most consistently exceptional album since Odelay.
He’s not hiding behind fuzz and distortion, rather allowing his garage rock proclivities to stand alongside his 60s & 70s psychedelic rock influences. And damn if they don’t stand tall and proud.
It all comes satisfyingly full circle, but Familiars mostly washes over you when it should be lunging for your heart.
There’s a sense that the band is inquisitively exploring the far reaches of the album’s fluid spaces right alongside the listener, and this feeling is strengthened by unusually revealing lyrics that speak to a growth that’s both personal and artistic.
Nikki Nack, the phenomenal follow-up to whokill, will only solidify the prior convictions of admirers and cynics alike. Garbus has broadened and sharpened her sonic vocabulary. Her melodies are catchier, her zany song structures more welcoming.
For as commanding and affecting Burn Your Fire for No Witness can be while it plays, the album remains elusive when trying to call it to mind later.
Here and Nowhere Else’s disposition for self-examination coaxes out a superior depth and nuance when stacked against Cloud Nothings’ previous works. Conversely, it is a little surprising how unsurprising the album is.
Future Islands are remaining relevant by crafting stimulating, quirky, synth-laden music that fuses the arcane with the universal; there’s a depth and complexity to their sound that’s lacking in many of their peers.
Present Tense may be a less accessible offering from Wild Beasts, but it’s their most human – a mesmeric bundle of contradictions, indignities and pleasures.
The thing Ronnenfelt and his bandmates are trying to communicate is honesty above all – sometimes it’s brutal to match the music, sometimes it’s not; it’s whatever it has to be to get real feeling across.
The production is closer to a Nicolas Jaar or James Blake than anything hip-hop is toying with at the moment. It’s innovative, it’s slippery, and it’s bound to piss off a lot of purists.
1989 would have been just as impressive thirty years ago, against much fiercer competition. It’s also proof that an expert songwriter, one who happens to sing and dance (somewhat less expertly), can rule our dreary charts.
For all the pomp and circumstance preceding Salad Days, this is still an album that DeMarco recorded in his Brooklyn walkup. It’s a record that boasts glaring maturity without diminishing the iconic immaturity.
Though They Want My Soul fully satisfies a four-year itch for new Spoon music, it isn’t a mere retread of past glories or a paint-by-number exercise.
You’re Dead! is a near-flawless examination of death as narrated by a virtuosic musician who has been exposed to a little too much of it.
While Are We There can be taxing at points, by its end, you’ll be overcome by the feeling that you’ve shared in something profound.