January 21, 2020

Mumford and Sons – Delta – Glassnote

By Kristi Kates | Dec. 1, 2018

Of course critics are going to be stomping around about Mumford and crew’s latest: How dare an established, successful band attempt to evolve? But thankfully, the band deftly does its own thing here, combining its earlier acoustic sensibilities and third album’s pop turn for an appealing, if more serious, melange of both styles. Standout “Forever” manages to capture the distinction of the Mumford sound while retaining freshness; additional tunes like “Picture You” and “Guiding Light” pull in delicate EDM elements and skittering beats. *** 1/2

Brian Eno – Ambient 1: Music for Airports – Astralwerks
Pulling the original tracks from Eno’s 1978 effort into today’s future, mastering engineer Miles Showell does an exceptional job with this half-speed mastered version of one of Eno’s best productions. Simultaneously wraithlike and warm, inspired by the incongruous musical sounds from a stint Eno spent waiting around at a German airport, this set spawned a series of landmark ambient albums from Eno, with this revitalized version arguably the best of the bunch, having paved the way for so much ambient that came later. ***


Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – Upside Down Flowers – Fantasy Records
The acclaimed Butch Walker (Panic! at the Disco/Pink) was behind the boards for this latest effort from McMahon, a nostalgic collection of tracks that looks back to bygone days and experiences, and looks forward to their effects on his life today. “Teenage Rockstars” might not have been the best choice for an opener, as it’s definitely not the highlight of the set, but the farther in you get, the more you’ll be glad you got past it, as tracks like the piano-rooted throwback “Ohio” and the storytelling and melodic construction of “Paper Rain” reveal plenty more. ** 1/2

Anderson .Paak – Oxnard – Aftermath/12 Tone
When in doubt, pull in all of your compatriots to contribute to your album. That’s kind of the impression .Paak’s latest puts across on his third studio effort (his first on Dr. Dre’s new label), as it seems he couldn’t stand to carry more than a couple of tracks on his own. “Tints,” featuring Kendrick Lamar, is probably the best of the set, while many of the others, including “Brother’s Keeper,” featuring Pusha T; “Trippy,” featuring J. Cole; and “Cheers,” with Q-Tip, seem to include the guest artists as afterthoughts. Warning: Don’t attempt to listen to this one at work unless you intend to offend. **


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