January 23, 2020

Belle and Sebastian – How to Solve Our Human Problems, Part 2 – Matador

By Kristi Kates | Feb. 10, 2018

The second of Belle and Sebastian’s trio of planned companion EPs has arrived (the third will surface late this month), with all three together comprising a full album’s worth of music. This one is a kind of vague, delicate sketched overview of the band’s current sound, festooned with jittery electronic beats and dark synths underpinning tracks like the lite-rock “We Were Beautiful” against the more sprightly “The Girl Doesn’t Get It.” ***

Fall Out Boy – M A N I A – Island
This set from Patrick Stump and crew charges out of the gate at full speed, pack dogs on their trail and feet at full gallop. While this might lead you to think all that energy is leading to a primarily punk set, it surprisingly isn’t. Stacked on top of an indie-rock base is, yes, a little punk, but also tropicalia (“Hold Me Tight Or Don’t”) and reggae (“Sunshine Riptide,” with contributions from Burna Boy), electronica (“Young and Menace”) and synthpop (“Last of the Real Ones.”) ***

Maroon 5 – Red Pill Blues – Interscope
For all of Adam Levine’s sharp insights in his role as coach on The Voice, it’s surprising how much of that doesn’t often translate to his own band, which sometimes — like on this effort — doesn’t show off the best efforts of the talented bandmates. It’s not a bad album, per se. It simply seems too safe, thanks to tracks like the “Best 4 U” and the falsetto-topped “Help Me Out.” Serban Ghene’s mixing buffs everything so much that Levine and crew’s personalities are lost in the sheen. **

They Might Be Giants – I Like Fun – Idlewild
The quippy, quirky, often hilarious Brooklyn duo are back with their whip-smart pop as translated through producer Patrick Dillett (The National/David Byrne), and this collection is just as modern and rockin’ as previous album efforts, from the bubbly soul attack of “Lake Monsters” (with its sarcastically political subtext) to the power pop of “Let’s Get This Over With,” complete with hipster Hammond organ lines and more ooh-ahhs than you can shake a Supreme at. ***



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