December 13, 2018

The Breeders – All Nerve – 4AD

By Kristi Kates | March 10, 2018

The Breeders might have reunited back in 2013, but did we get any new music from the band then? Nope. That’s why this new collection of tracks — the first in 10 years — is such a boon for Breeders fans now. The band taps back into its vintage ’90s sound, including its always distinctive, slightly off-kilter harmonies. And those distorted guitars and pointed lyrics are as sharp as ever on tunes like the double-meaning “Do You Love Me Now?” (romance or band?), the “Tainted Love”-inspired title track, and the powerful “Howl at the Summit.” ***

Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending – Domino
Now on their fifth album, Alex Kapranos and crew stick to their existing indie-pop formula, with disco beats (often in zany time signatures) holding down the floorboards for the band’s well-known overload of synths, jaunty guitar riffs, and impertinent choruses. Insolence with a grin arrives via “Lazy Boy,” in which Kapranos confirms that he’s perfectly fine with that passive label. Other highlights, like the anthemic “Finally” and the smartly sarcastic lyrical turns on “Glimpse of Love,” prove that Franz is definitely still on its way upward. *** ½

Destroyer – Ken - Merge
Dan Bejar-as-Destroyer’s latest set merges (no label pun intended) an eccentric range of stylistic audio choices with super-short song lengths and quirky pronunciations that make some of these tracks intriguingly different, and others just plain weird. “Rome” is on the weird side of things, with its too-repetitive refrain and grating guitar; “La Regle du Jeu” (“The Rules of the Game”) is more interesting, at least — but also becomes less accessible about a third of the way through. Your best bet is to start with the ’80s pop of “In the Morning” and see if the other tunes grow on you. ** ½ 

BØRNS – Blue Madonna - Interscope
Garrett Borns, the Michigan-born, Los Angeles-transferred performer with the unique hippie-meets-glam-rock persona, blends faintly funky beats with polished disco-pop for a followup to his critically lauded 2015 album, Dopamine. Accompanied by Andrew McMahon cohort/producer Tommy English, Borns makes solid use of his falsetto vocals (reminiscent of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon) to craft highlights like “Second Night of Summer” and his teamup with guest Lana Del Rey on the Gen-Y anthem “God Save Our Young Blood.” ** ½



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