February 20, 2020

Lorde – Melodrama – Republic Records

By Kristi Kates | July 15, 2017

Lorde – Melodrama – Republic Records
Four years after Lorde’s first smash hit album arrives her second, a carefully constructed affair that continues to showcase her quirky (and quite good) vocal performances as well as her emotional songwriting. Tracks like the letter-to-an-ex “Green Light” and the regretful standout piano ballad “Liability” dig impressively deep while retaining their hooks. But a few tunes, like “Hard Feelings-Loveless,” attempt to jump ahead of their own hipness quotient and fall a little flat. That simply might be the result of Lorde trying to push forward faster than she’s actually moving. ** ½

The Raveonettes – 2016 Atomized - Vice

Noise-popsters Sharin Foo and Sune Rose Wagner sure have a knack for conveying a lot of emotion with a lesser amount of elements on this new album. Made up of singles released one per month throughout 2016, the album is layered with surprises. You might hear a track title like “The World is Empty (Without You),” expecting a long lyrical diatribe on love gone wrong, but instead, you’ll get just a couple dozen words that nevertheless push forth those desolate emotions; elsewhere on the set, “Pendejo” is an unexpected, lengthy instrumental full of sharp edges and California feedback that doesn’t even need lyrics at all. ** ½

Saint Etienne – Home Counties - Heavenly
The narrative for Saint Etienne’s latest set focuses on what’s affectionately called the “home counties,” the southern commuter towns within shouting distance of London, England. The bandmates effectively inhabit the people who inhabit the towns as they take your ears on an audio tour of various places, situations, and imagined outcomes. Notable moments include the synth-washed, bossa-nova inspired “Sweet Arcadia”; the lonely bus travel outlined in the big, underground indie-pop choruses of “Whyteleafe”; and the neighborhood-friendly disco beats of “Dive.” ***

The London Grammar – Truth is a Beautiful Thing – Columbia
The British trio brought in some heavy-hitting producers to tackle their sophomore album — Paul Epworth (Adele/Bloc Party), Greg Kurstin (Sia/Beck), and Tim Bran (La Roux). The result is a compelling, arresting potpourri of experiences inspired by a long year spent on the road and translated into storytelling-audio form through dissimilar yet sisterly tracks like the orchestral trip-hop romance number “Big Picture,” the hammering “Non Believer,” and immediately interesting and understated arrangement of opener “Rooting for You.” ***



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