February 28, 2021


By Kristi Kates | Jan. 14, 2017

Vaults — “Caught in Still Life” — V Records

Capitalizing on the success of the inclusion of their track in this year’s annual John Lewis advertisement in the U.K. are this London band, whose electronica outings have proved nearly as viable commercially as Moby’s were in his heyday. And therein lies the problem; pushing the production to such a heavily polished level squeezes all the life out of many of these tracks. Both “Midnight River” and “Cry No More” are fairly catchy for the most part, but the flawless sonic patina leaves it all a little cold. * ½

Olly Murs — “24 Hrs” — Epic

The London Evening Standard called Murs “pop pleasantness personified,” and that’s a pretty apt description for what the “X Factor” finalist is offering up on his latest album. Another word that comes to mind is “safe,” but that’s not necessarily a derogatory term; if you’re a fan of R&B and funk-lite, then this might just be your deal, from the conventional groove of “Read My Mind” to the anthemic “Back Around,” which amps itself up to be a tune perfectly positioned for next summer’s car stereos. ***

Little Mix — “Glory Days” — Columbia

Speaking of “X Factor,” this is the first successful group to have been spewed from the maw of the massive show, and this new collection of girl-pop tracks sticks to the usual themes of happy relationships, possible relationships and broken relationships, complete with a guest appearance from one of the current kings of said songs, Charlie Puth (“Oops”). But while they’re obviously working on it, many of the tracks have weak spots, meaning they’re not quite the cool kids in this genre yet (see: Spice Girls). * ½

DNCE — “DNCE” — Republic

This group burst out of the gate with the frivolous single “Cake by the Ocean,” pushing through the boy-band stigma of bandleader Joe Jonas’ former project to stake a claim as a newbie electro-bubblegum band ready for action. The album furthers their cause with decently entertaining tunes that prove the band has focus while not taking itself too seriously; standouts include the soon-to-be party anthem “Pay My Rent,” the ’80s hook of “Zoom,” and surprisingly different ballad “Almost.” **

Kristi Kates is a contributing editor and freelance writer.


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