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Here’s What! With my move to New York City and all that surrounds making a new life for myself, I have allowed too many albums to go Un-Reviewed on this blog. I didn’t want to just let my opinions go to waste, because there are thoughts I have on a number of albums that I wanted to share. The solution I came up with is to do quick reviews on all of the Fall Albums that I’ve gotten a chance to check out. Starting with one of the most anticipated, Lady GaGa’s “ARTPOP” which comes out officially TODAY November 11th.
I’m not ranking the albums, I’m just posting my reviews in order from most recent release to the earliest, which is a lot of ground to cover but let’s do it!
Favorites: Manicure, Gypsy, Do What U Want
“Applause”, the first single from GaGa’s 3rd full album, is a song that I don’t hate, but don’t love. A song that’s enjoyable, but not ground breaking to me. So it was the perfect set up for “ARTPOP” which has it’s highs and lows, but overall is just a decent Pop album. It’s definitely a lot more fun than her previous outing “Born This Way”, and maybe I liked the darkness and diversity of that too much and wanted more of it on “ARTPOP” which is mostly uptempo’s that actually remind you of some stuff from her debut phenomenon “The Fame”. On the plus side “ARTPOP” does seem like a grower, the production is complex and the lyrical content is laced with double entendres and deeper meanings that one might not catch the first or even fifth time listening to it. “ARTPOP” is fine, not great, but definitely enjoyable.
Favorites: Flashbulb Eyes, Here Comes the Night Time, Normal Person
I’m not the biggest Arcade Fire fan, I knew of them but never listened to their music until their Grammy winning “The Suburbs” which has some amazing songs (the same for “Neon Bible”, the album before that). Their latest album “Reflektor” does have some truly stand out cuts as well, but the album overall strikes me in a weird way. At times it feels like they are uncomfortably out of their comfort zone experimenting with drum machines and more up-tempos. And at times it’s just a tad boring and overlong. When it’s good it’s great though, and maybe I just need a little more time to get into it.
Favorites: Legendary Lovers, Love Me, Roar
Coming off her successful, and really good, album “Teenage Dream”, Perry got married and divorced and hinted early on that the follow up would be much darker. She stated later on that “Prism” ended up being a lighter album, and I’m wishing she stepped on over to the dark side as this third album plays as just more of the same from Katy. That’s not really a bad thing, the album is fun and funny and enjoyable. It just reads as a continuation of “Teenage Dream”, and I feel that the producers failed Katy on this album as they seem to deliver stale re-treads of former stuff, just with slight tweaks for the 2013 listener. Perry does her job vocally and lyrically trying to take the songs and make something new and different, but there’s only so far she can go. In general it’s a very cute pop album with plenty of hit potential. I would eventually like to see a darker, harder edged Katy emerge because I know it’s in her somewhere.
Favorites: Appreciate, Alligator, On My Way to Work
Sir Paul Delivers. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the “New” album, as I haven’t really followed McCartney’s solo career at all. However I was really pleased with what is a very satisfying and diverse album. Overall it’s very mellow, but he gives us different tastes of his talents with some very Beatles-like tunes, some Wings-like Rocker stuff, and he also provides some very beautiful contemporary songs. And with all this he seems so comfortable vocally and lyrically that it just seems like great and relaxing Jam session.
Favorites: Sugarcane, To Hell with You, Young Legends
Don’t really have too much to say about this album. I do enjoy the Noise Pop of Sleigh Bells and I really enjoyed their two previous albums, and this third album is an enjoyable follow up. I just feel like they might have hit a peak as there’s not much new to report about their musical style. Yes there are some really fun peppy tracks, and some strangely beautiful down-tempos, but that’s just like their last album “Reign of Terror”. I think melodically they go into a more R&B/Pop terrain on this effort but that’s really the only thing that sets it apart and even that is very subtle. Good album, but nothing real unique or stand out.
Favorites: You Got It On, True Blood, Amnesia
I wasn’t expecting anything more than filler from this “Part Two” of Timberlake’s successful “The 20/20 Experience” from earlier this year. I thought it was a lazy attempt at getting his fans to spend more money on him (which, it still is let’s be honest), but I actually enjoyed a lot of what he had to offer here. I still believe that he could have done some editing and made ONE GREAT album, but it is what it is, and it’s pretty okay. You get pretty much the same of what you got on the first one, some electro’d out up-tempos and some soulful numbers. There still isn’t much as far as excellent lyricism or mindblowing vocals, but it’s still a fairly decent album overall.
Favorites: Furthest Thing, Wu Tang Forever, Own It
You guys know I love me some Drake, but ever since I got this album it has bothered me that I didn’t like it, and I couldn’t put a finger on why. There is a block of songs that I really love, but after they are done I lose interest and here’s my theory. On Drake’s last two albums he was the rapper who was hoping for legendary status, and then the rapper on his way to that status and just enjoying the moment. There was a sense of humility in him, and I think the problem with “Nothing Was the Same” is that all humility is gone and the record plays like a “Bow Down Bitches” as his confidence and ego are on 150. The album is fine, but I just want Drake to come back down to earth.
Favorites: Introspection, Cool Song No. 2, Astro-Mancy
MGMT are just weird, and I love it. Their third album “MGMT (The Optimizer)” follows suit with their last album in that it’s very mellow and very psychedelic, but somehow it’s a different type of mellow. It’s a more mature sound, and while there are a lot of tracks that feel very up to date there are others that go back to a 60’s sound (and seems like The Who was a big inspiration for at least two cuts). It’s a very balanced album, and at 10 tracks it’s the perfect length. These guys are still progressing which is a great thing, and still delivering very pleasing sounds which will make for a very diverse and interesting discography overall.
Tamar Braxton “Love and War”
Favorites: All The Way Home, Stay and Fight, Pieces
I talked about how much I loved this album on my YouTube channel, but I won’t hesitate to sing it’s praises one more time. Tamar Braxton, I would imagine, is a difficult artist to create a sound for as she is so fresh and current, but she’s also a grown woman who shouldn’t devote an entire album to “ratchet” club songs for fear of trying to be something she’s not. Thankfully Vincent and company pulled some amazing songs for her that show off her insane vocal abilities and provide some of the urban fun she enjoys. I love the fact that these songs are FULL songs and not the current standard of a half a verse, hook, same verse and repeat. I also love that vocally she fills each song to the very end with beautiful runs and vocal technique. It’s just a great R&B/Pop album that hasn’t gotten stale to me yet.