January 28, 2020

Yuna – Rogue – Verve

By Kristi Kates | Aug. 3, 2019

Blending the ’80s tones of Sade (“Soldier of Love”) with a more earthy-voiced Sia (“Chandelier”), Yuna’s unique R&B sound on this set finds her collaborating with a long list of peers, from Jay Park and Masego to Little Simz, as well as trying out some sampling sounds. Yuna debuted her music on MySpace back in the day, and her experimental spirit carries through here, 10 years later, on tracks like opener “Castaway,” with its dark violins; “Likes,” with its spiky commentary on social media; and the timely “Blank Marquee,” featuring G-Eazy. **

Jonas Brothers – Happiness Begins – Republic
The New Jersey brothers — Nick, Joe, and Kevin — were in their teens when they first smashed down the doors of pop, gaining a legion of (mostly female) fans and becoming the ’N Sync of their day. Ten years later — after solo albums and other hiatus activities — the brothers are back, with a set that wisely recaptures a hint of their original sound while expanding it exponentially. Here, they each bring in elements of their solo work to craft a danceable, funky, patchwork-pop set with everything from West Coast harmonies (“Don’t Throw It Away”) to the studio-sleek “Cool,” undeniably catchy “Sucker,” and love songs like “Hesitate.” ***
Imperial Teen – Now We Are Timeless – Merge
Spawned from an ’80s rock band and now sporting a classic West Coast garage-rock sound, Imperial Teen’s latest follows a pretty traditional road, with hints of psychedelia and grunge on tunes like “We Do What We Do Best” with its steel-dense drumbeats and “Parade,” which also brings an unexpected chorus turnaround. It’s a fairly short set (the entire thing clocks in at just over a half-hour), but the first two singles, the bouncing “We Do What We Do Best” and the electro-power-pop of “Walkaway,” prove that it’s worth a listen. ***

Bloc Party – Silent Alarm Live – BPP
Live editions of landmark albums seem to be a current trend, with Bloc Party leaping on this bandwagon for a decently standout version of its very first album, Silent Alarm (2005), as recorded during the band’s 2018 European tour. The initial album was named as one of the best rock albums of the decade; this live version helps testify as to why, with the original 13 tracks appearing on this set via even more urgent, energetic live takes, from the classic indie-rock of “Price of Gasoline” to the mosh-worthy “This Modern Love.”  ** ½


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