February 28, 2021


By Kristi Kates | June 10, 2017

Bleachers – Gone Now – RCA
Jack Antonoff is best known for his two highest-profile projects — his breakthrough band fun., and his work songwriting with one Taylor Swift. But his secondary solo effort is definitely not to be ignored, as it showcases the quirky highlights of his writing skills when he’s untied from the parameters of other collaborators. Bursting with hooks and samples reminiscent of Beck’s heyday, the album’s standouts include the instantly catchy “Don’t Take the Money,” the uber-pop confection “Hate That You Know Me” (with Carly Rae Jepsen), and the quieter refinement of “All My Heroes.” ***

Phoenix – Ti Amo - Glassnote
Offering up their first album since 2013’s critical fave Bankrupt!, the French popsters recorded this set in Paris with their longtime collaborator Pierrick Devin and have crafted a set that’s like emojis of melody, with each individual song focusing on an emotion like innocence or love. The album also feels a lot like spring break in Europe, thanks to airy melodies and drumbeats that shift in ambiance from ’80s to ’90s radio pop. First single, “J-Boy,” takes you directly to the disco with its toe-tapping rhythm and spinning synth lines, while the title track proves a must-listen with its mildly funky, chill feel. ***

The Charlatans – Different Days – BMG
Recorded at the band’s own facility in Crewe, England, and welcoming in a host of guests including Johnny Marr and Paul Weller, The Charlatan’s latest album (their thirteenth) is poised directly on top of the current state of sound. It’s rife with able observations and insistent melodies, even as it retains just enough nostalgia from the band’s beginnings to keep an easy consistency going. Marr’s guitar work makes “Plastic Machinery” a highlight, with “Solutions” a great second best that paints the main melody on top of a ’70s prog rock-meets-poptronica foundation. **1/2

Imagine Dragons – Evolve – Interscope
Three singles have already been released from ID’s upcoming third album, and all three are sharp, concise tunes that actually evolve the band’s sound another step forward. That’s not to say the band has changed its usual appealing formula, though; its just refined it some, so that the rap-pop hybrid on tracks like “Whatever It Takes” (which also features some thesaurus-worthy wordplay) and “Believer” is tighter and more focused. Can ID get a second No. 1 album after its breakthrough set, Smoke + Mirrors, notched that accomplishment? Quite possibly, if their fans are “Believer”s, too. ***


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