February 28, 2021


By Kristi Kates | May 13, 2017


Blondie – Pollinator - BMG
Sonically ageless and endlessly cool, ’70s/’80s outfit Blondie returns with a new album as if it never left its original era, yet somehow manages to infuse these tracks with a modern sound that locks right in next to today’s radio hits. The album includes contributions from a plethora of current peers, including Sia, Dave Sitek (from band TV on the Radio), Charli XCX, and Nick Valensi (The Strokes), and kicks off strong with the set’s first two singles: the heavy-on-the-’80s “Fun” and “Long Time.” Other standouts include “Best Day Ever,” with lyrics by Sia, and the plaintive (but still catchy) “Fragments.” Frontwoman Debbie Harry is in fine voice, and her band isn’t too shabby either. ***

Erasure – From Moscow to Mars - Mute
This is perhaps the most complete collection of Erasure tracks to be released and a must-buy for diehard fans. With 13 (that’s not a typo) discs in all, there’s something from every era of Erasure and for every ear that listens to the band. The first three discs offer up Erasure’s biggest hits (“Sometimes,” “A Little Respect”), and a pair of B-side discs dig out some of the lesser-known gems (“Tragic,” “Die 4 Love”.) A remixes disc is included, with new takes on old tracks from artists like Little Boots, Heavenly Action, and others. Additional curated discs by the bandmates themselves feature plenty of audio surprises. ***

Marconi Union – Tokyo + – Just Music
Originally released as a single disc, Marconi Union’s landmark set has just been released as an expanded two-disc edition that includes a bonus live remix EP sure to quickly become a collector’s fave. The EP was created by taking the original tracks for the ambient tunes and adding in new loops and parts plus new live beats from the band’s drummer Phil Hurst. The overall feel of the entire set is fairly dark, with hypnotic synths and burbling basslines on tracks like the dubstep “Ginza District,” the spare “Nightworker,” and standout “Lost in Neon,” with its chilly high notes and atmospheric SFX. ** ½

Laura Marling – Semper Femina – More Alarming
This concept album from Marling focuses on femininity, vulnerability, and the psychology of friendships (the title is Latin for “Always a Woman”).  Throughout the set, the singer-songwriter displays both her crisp observational skills and her melodic ones. The sorrowful “Always This Way” laments a lost platonic friendship, while “Wild Fire” is a searching tune about how parents can influence our future friendships and what we inherit from them. This is some complex stuff that might not be for everyone — and it can be a little dreary — but Marling presents it in an interesting way. **



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