September 19, 2020

American Authors – Seasons – Island

By Kristi Kates | Feb. 16, 2019

Far from the bright, spry tones of its first big hit single, “Best Day of My Life,” the Authors returns with a much heavier outlook on the world, and the music steps up the band’s instrumental game to match. The Brooklyn, New York, outfit digs into more earthy blues, Americana-rock, and gospel sounds for this set, as evidenced on the album’s first single, “Deep Water,” with its bubbling-under bassline. “Say Amen” (feat. Billy Raffoul) keeps to that bluesy sound, while “Can’t Stop Me Now” jumps headfirst into the ’70s with its layered choruses and guitars. ** ½

The Cardigans – First Band on the Moon– Mercury
You’re probably familiar with The Cardigans through its one massive radio hit, “Lovefool,” but the Swedish band digs a whole lot deeper than that one pop confection on its albums. This set, its third studio effort, does include the “Lovefool” single, but it also delivers plenty of other lounge-pop gems like the sugary “Been It,” the watered-down punk of “Never Recover,” and the supremely rewindable “Heartbreaker.” This new edition was remastered at NYC’s Sterling Sound and is now available on 180-gram black vinyl. ***

White Lies – Five – Pias America
West London’s White Lies recorded in its own territory and in Los Angeles on this new set — their fifth (hence that title) — with producer Ed Buller. Perhaps it was all of those complicated travel logistics that lent themselves to this detailed collection of songs, in which the band steps well past indie rock to craft multi-faceted tracks like opener “Time to Give,” with its Mobius-strip arrangement; the acoustic-based thinker, “Finish Line”; and the ’80s-inspired “Tokyo.” ***
Beirut – Gallipoli – 4AD
The indie-folk band’s move from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Berlin, Germany, has definitely affected frontman Zach Condon’s songwriting. Condon’s penchant for world music is still very much present, but there’s also a new world-weary tone to the tunes, as if trading desert for concrete has had a direct (and somewhat dismal) effect. The title track offers a bard tone, with a potpourri of percussion and old-world lyrics, while “Landslide” slips in stacks of Moog synths, and “Varieties of Exile,” with its perhaps telling name, features filtered horns and short-form philosophy. **


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