mikesweeney -
98
'All Mirrors' is an orchestral pop victory for Angel Olsen, both artistically and personally. On the fourth studio album from the American singer-songwriter, we find a disconnected-with-herself Olsen reerecting the aspects to her identity after heartbreak. Sporting no co-writers, one co-composer, and a twelve-piece string section supporting her on eight of the eleven tracks, 'All Mirrors' is a burning testament to the artistic muscle that's supported Olsen throughout her career. The album opens ... read more
mikesweeney -
91
Starting out the 2010s as a cinematic, unconventional indie pop singer shrouded in vintage enigmas, Lana Del Rey finishes up the decade with her most down-to-earth, literal release. Del Rey's first three major label studio albums: 'Born to Die', 'Ultraviolence', and 'Honeymoon', were largely introspective but melodramatic and movie-like. They had a timeless sound that made Del Rey a persona of a woman in the eyes of her audience, and ultimately, her signature style has made her one of the ... read more
mikesweeney -
100
Heartbreaking and riveting, 'MAGDALENE' is the product of a revolutionary at her best. Following a high-profile break-up and a surgery that removed painful fibroid tumors from her uterus in 2017, we find FKA twigs rebuilding herself from utter physical and emotional dismantling on 'MAGDALENE'. Album opener "Thousand Eyes" is a five-minute hymn of an introduction to the album, with FKA twigs singing about how it feels to be completely exposed when the world is watching you: "If I ... read more
mikesweeney -
53
Dropping "And The Diamonds" from her stage name, 'Love + Fear' also seems to drop everything that once made this popstar special. Ten years before the release of 'Love + Fear', Diamandis was just starting out, releasing singles from what would then become her debut album 'The Family Jewels'. "Oh my God! You look just like Shakira; no, no, you're Catherine Zeta! Actually, my name's Marina", Diamandis teased in a smug, sarcastic tone on 2010 breakout single ... read more
mikesweeney -
85
Five and a half years after previous studio album 'Lotus', 'Liberation' is a monumental comeback from the 2000s child star-turned-pop diva. Always seemingly ahead of her time, Aguilera's "Can't Hold Us Down", released in 2002, was a R&B/hip hop feminist anthem featuring Lil' Kim that mirrors lyrical and sonic content of pop songs being released today. At the time, the song grew harsh criticisms from music reviewers for its lyrical content and sound. Aguilera's 2010 studio album, ... read more
mikesweeney -
97
As ambitious as it is masterfully crafted, 'LP1' is a distinctive debut for the London-based FKA twigs. Upon the turn of the 2010s, a myriad of alternative R&B artists all seemed to pop up together: The Weeknd, Tinashe, BANKS, Kelela, The Internet, Jhené Aiko... the list doesn't seem to stop. However, FKA twigs is well-noted for uniquely bending the wave of the genre by combining it with sounds of electronic sounds you might hear on a long-lost Björk album, as well as trip hop, ... read more
mikesweeney -
92
Dialing back the rock influence from previous record 'Ultraviolence', 'Honeymoon' is a marvelous return to the baroque pop of her trademark debut 'Born to Die', but now, she sounds more focused, and her voice is richer and mature. Album opener and title track "Honeymoon" is a near-six-minute ballad, which opens with glistening strings and maintains soft but rapid percussion before blossoming into the balmy bridge. The opener to the album somewhat mirrors the trace of a flower from ... read more
mikesweeney -
83
Banks' third album is her most consistent and cohesive effort, but lacks a badly-needed standout. The album features some of the California-based singer-songwriter's most eccentric lyricism, as evidenced by some of the songs found later in the tracklist. On "Alaska", an attractively strange dark pop album cut, Banks croons "Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, don't go / I found a letter from your friend, he said you're gone / He said you were going to the mountain with the most snow, so ... read more
mikesweeney -
96
The title 'Golden Hour' is a perfect fit for a bright, twinkling country pop album that focuses its attention on the greener sides of the grass. Occasionally, Musgraves will turn her attention toward some of life's struggles, such as heartbreak, absence, and quite bluntly, having to deal with an asshole; but, for the most part, Musgraves sees the glass as half full. Album opener "Slow Burn" finds the Nashville-residing singer appreciating peace, stopping to smell the roses, and taking ... read more
mikesweeney -
70
Sadly, 'Queen' does little to nothing to highlight the queenly techniques that Minaj actually possesses. An overloaded album from the Trinidad and Tobago-born and Queens-raised female rap pioneer, Minaj presents a confusing, but nevertheless pleasant listen. However, she misses the mark at establishing something that lives up to the title. Tracks such as "Run & Hide" and the Ariana Grande-assisted "Bed" fail to showcase any of Minaj's incredible rap capabilities, and ... read more
mikesweeney -
96
Dreamy, lush, and rich, Del Rey's sophomore record 'Ultraviolence' combines elements of soft rock and dream pop to manifest an unexpected follow-up sound to the record-breaking, blueprint baroque pop debut 'Born to Die'. Lead single "West Coast" is a sumptuous soft rock ballad, which unconventionally slows down for a patient chorus and speeds back up for the verses, and it's a perfect summer hymn for fans of nearly any music genre. Other singles "Shades of Cool" and ... read more
mikesweeney -
83
Down to a quartet, Fifth Harmony puts their best foot forward with their most cohesive, R&B-pop project to date. While nothing is quite as magical as international smash hit "Work from Home", 'Fifth Harmony' is the group's first album without obvious pop filler. "Messy", however, comes close to losing the listener's attention, and album opener and lead single "Down" is a blatant repackaging of "Work from Home", featuring the same strategy, structure, ... read more
mikesweeney -
95
Featuring some of her most eruptive choruses and best grooves, 'The Altar' is an alternative R&B-tinged electro-pop manifesto, boasting some of the California-based singer-songwriter's most confident sounds and lyrics. Compared to debut album 'Goddess', Banks sounds like the same woman, but more resilient. "Trainwreck", an album highlight, features direct trip hop influences, with exciting rapped verses and an explosive, head-banging chorus. Album opener "Gemini Feed" ... read more
mikesweeney -
94
Combining the charm of her bedroom recording studio with a new collection of high profile record producer acquaintances, the sound of 'Amethyst' is an innovative alternative R&B similar to previous releases 'In Case We Die' and 'Black Water', this time; however, with some of her cleanest production and smoothest vocals. Mixtape closer "Just the Way I Like You" is a hypnotic, ambient slow burn with lyrics boasting her work ethic and loyalty. Halfway through the track, Tinashe ... read more
mikesweeney -
73
If someone deserves an award for perseverance, it's Tinashe; because, it's not a good sign if you need to hire a team of lawyers to force your record label to let you release your album after a three year battle. It's no secret that during the creation of this album, a clash of vision between artist and label occurred, and musically, this album suffers because of it. Tinashe's 'Joyride' was released in April 2018 after being announced to be originally slated for release in late 2015. Between ... read more
mikesweeney -
98
Following up two label-mandated pop singles, "Player" featuring Chris Brown, and "Superlove", Tinashe releases a hazy, after-dark digital album that reminds the listener of both her roots and best talents. While 'Nightride' may not have radio-ready singles or powerful vocal moments like 'Aquarius', 'Nightride' is equally as interesting. Never slipping up from alternative R&B or breathy vocals this time, Tinashe invites the listener into what a road trip in her car on a ... read more
mikesweeney -
98
It is no coincidence that Marina Diamandis's strongest work, 'FROOT' is self-written. The incredibly-gifted Welsh singer-songwriter takes the listener on an incredible, introspective synth-pop journey that comprises lyrics surrounding ideas of depression, loneliness, the pursuit of happiness, and moving on. Album opener "Happy" is a stripped ballad, where Diamandis puts her voice at the forefront of the song in a way like never before for her, and painfully opens up to the listeners ... read more
mikesweeney -
98
At times, Kelela's debut album may seem long-winded or exhaustive, but when it's not, Kelela's cutting-edge sound that blends forward-thinking electronic production with vocal melodies and sounds of '80's & '90's R&B lives up to the stunning, bold photograph that constitutes the album cover. Kelela opens the album with the defiant, self-assured "Frontline", an album highlight, where she takes pride in cutting off an ex-lover. However, the follow-up track "Waitin" ... read more
mikesweeney -
100
Balancing rhythmic radio-ready hits and murky alternative R&B slow burners on her debut album, Tinashe leaves the listener entertained for all eighteen tracks. Even the basement-party ready bangers such as "2 On" and "How Many Times" don't clash with the gloomy and atmospheric "Bet", which enlists a powerful guitar solo from Devonté Hynes. The pop-tinged "Pretend" which features A$AP Rocky fits right in as well. Evolving the sounds of the ... read more
mikesweeney -
98
California-based Natalie Mering, better known as Weyes Blood, flawlessly allures and enamors listeners with an incredibly dreamy, atmospheric, and cohesive baroque pop adventure. Tracks seamlessly flow from one to another, all the while making sure the record never feels too monotone or opaque. "Movies" is equally contorted as it is hypnotic, with the singer comparing the complexity of life to the uniformity of cinema: "I know the meaning / I know the story / I know the glory / I ... read more
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