This month was another strong one as far as albums go, so I guess I’ll once again talk about some of my favorites. I’ll also give a shout-out to albums that I liked, but I just didn’t get around to listening to enough to make sense of how much I liked them. Those include: Wild Loneliness by Superchunk, Squeeze by SASAMI, and Running with the Hurricane by Camp Cope. Meanwhile, How Is It That I Should Look At The Stars by The Weather Station is a nice little companion piece to last year’s fantastic Ignorance, but feels a little too low-stakes for it to really stand out on its own.
As I mentioned last month, though the latest from Beach House did come out at the tail end of February, its intimidating length took a while for me to really sit down and spend some time with. I’m not sure that it was worth waiting a month to write that I can confirm that this is indeed another Beach House album (and that’s a good thing!), but I’m not sure I have much more to add than that. Double albums (or quadruple EPs, as is the case here) tend to be a place where an artist can really stretch out and show the varied depths of their sound, and I think that is true to some extent here.
There are some new and unique things here, such as a newfound integration of strings into the band’s already firmly established sound, while there’s also further exploration of the band descending into the chunkier synth sounds that marked the band’s last release, 7. So if you’re already on board with this band’s sound (which I would say I am) and the somewhat lengthy gap since the release of this Baltimore duo’s last album has made you hungry for more, it’s hard to imagine Once Twice Melody wouldn’t be satisfying.
2022 has already seen the release of a bunch of albums I really like, but this may be the first one that I truly love. Nilüfer Yanya’s first album is one that Sean appropriately gave some love to and that I liked but probably didn’t spend enough time listening to. This follow-up sees Yanya building on her eclectically alt-rock sound with songs that are even more confident and deliciously ripe for listening to over and over again. While Yanya’s previous album felt like a grab bag of different styles, ranging from indie rock to modern pop to chilled-out jazz, here it feels like she’s combining all those sounds into something a bit more streamlined. It’s just an album where I like every song on it and I’m guessing I’ll keep putting it on in the background until I make myself sick of it, which doesn’t feel like it’ll be anytime soon.
Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupil – Topical Dancer
Ok, here’s a case of me venturing a little bit outside my musical comfort zone and having it pay off. Charlotte Adigéry is a singer and producer who has teamed up with her longtime friend and fellow musician Bolis Pupil, which marks the first time the two have collaborated together on an album’s worth of material. Again, I have no real knowledge of the Belgian dance-pop scene that they came up in, but these songs are pretty infectious.
The bass-heavy production is pulsatingly immaculate and pairs nicely (in kind of an odd way) with lyrics about racism and xenophobia that the two have encountered living in Europe and having come from immigrant families. That said, there’s a tongue-in-cheek quality that transcends the fact that these topics aren’t exactly the most left-field ones to be talking about in contemporary music, while the vocal and instrumentals are enough to get you vibing even if the messages of the songs sometimes gets lost in their irreverence.
So here’s my thing with Charli XCX. As I talked about in a 2010s retrospective review that feels like it was written about a million years ago, I basically just like one Charli XCX album a lot, perhaps because she was leaning into a more rock-influenced sound. Since then, she’s continued to be one of the more critically-acclaimed and lowkey beloved pop stars around, which has kept me continuing to check out each one of her new albums. While I’ve found them interesting, none of them really clicked with me. This was especially the case for her last, quarantine-conceived album, since it saw her continuing to go hard on her brand of amped-up pop during a period where I really had little need for that kind of music. Which makes me pleased to announce that so far I’m kinda loving this new Charli record.
That said, this is probably because CRASH is an album very specifically engineered to rope in people like me who have liked some of Charli XCX’s work in the past but have been alienated by some of her more futuristic, auto-tune-embracing material. Here, you’ve got a sound that’s a little more indebted to the ‘80s and ‘90s pop of Madonna and Janet Jackson, but you’ve also got Charli’s knack for everything cutting edge in modern pop that keeps CRASH from sounding merely like a throwback. Speaking of, I’m not sure I’ve heard a pop album this loaded with bangers since Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, but we’ll see if it can reach anywhere near that ubiquity.
This one’s a little fresh for me to have a concrete opinion on since it came out last Friday, but so far it seems like another bewilderingly strong album from Dan Bejar and company. Not really sure how the dude has managed to keep up the hot streak of albums that started with 2011’s Kaputt, but I also ain’t complaining either. Labyrinthitis has a lot of the same chilled-out synth sounds that Bejar has been honing in these past few records (with Poison Season being a bit of an anomaly), but there are a few off-kilter wrinkles here and there. Some of the songs are occasionally on the more aggro side, making the album sound a little more organic and like it was recorded live than the pristine cohesion of, say Ken or Have We Met. But considering the steady hand that Destroyer have displayed the past few years, even when the album takes the occasional odd left turn or two, you still know you’re in good hands.