crystal castles - iii
Although this is not the lengthy, pulsating, driven, and at times bewildering chaos that made (II) such a massive follow-up to (I), (III) stands its ground. True to their nature, Ethan and Alice have made a spasmodic and rapturous collection of tunes to throw into the vault. Tonally and thematically their most cohesive album, by no means can the same be said for flow or structure. These are separate tracks that speak of discord, trauma, beauty, and violence. Alice is more muted and twisted in her vocals, but it doesn't come off as childish. There is a method to the madness. I'm slowly falling in love with these songs as much as any of their other tracks, and if you're a fan, it probably won't take you too many listens to get into the album either.
For people just coming into the fold, this may be a great introduction. There is emotion and emphasis sized down for the average listener whereas their first two albums can be over-whelming to take in at once.
If anything I'm left, as always, wanting more from a duo who seem to try to give everything of themselves to their audience. Each album is a different monster. This monster seems to be hiding in the shadows- small, sharp, desperate, and willing to run away with you if you let it.
sweet valley - eternal champ
mac demarco - 2
Mac Demarco might give the impression of being a care-free goofball when you look at the front cover of his second LP of the year, but that sense of nonchalance doesn't translate on to the music contained within. Well, maybe it does a bit, he sings with a relaxed delivery and plays casually appergiated guitar chords for the entirity of "2" however it's more of a stylistic preference rather than an indicater of disinterest. Take "Ode To Viceroy" for a great example of how a song can carry the hallmarks of lightweight breeziness whilst deeply resonating with you. There's both an unsettling aura and an effortless charm to Demarco's vocal cadence in "Viceroy" and throughout the rest of "2" also, which is complemented by his twangy guitar tones and understated melodic phrasing.
The Cover Art on "2" isn't a complete red herring though, little idiosyncracies pop up by way of tongue in cheek sign outs on a few of the songs here and "Still Together" is for all intents and purposes a song that should be taken about as seriously "Gangnam Style". Demarco plays the majority of the music on "2" with a relatively straight face though and some tracks like the brilliant "My Kind Of Women" have an undeniably affecting quality to them, his yearning feels earnest and genuine here and his music in this mode becomes very easy to relate to. The stark contrast between "2" and the Glam Rock tinged posturing of Mac Demarco's first album of 2012 "Rock and Roll Nightclub" might leave you to believe he's still searching for an identity as an artist and whillst that may be true, the sincerity of the music on "2" suggests to me that he's found it here.
andy stott - luxury problems
3rd release from Manchester, England artist is an invitation to hypnotic immersion in an alternate soundscape world. Recorded in Heaven, where something is ever-so-slightly off, "Luxury Problems" is the sound of angels working their way through rumbling demonic temptations, via repetition and reinforcement of the celestial dance atmosphere. The light & airy, but eerily haunting, voice of Alison Skidmore glides on an elevated plane while lower realm grunts and
burbles abound, sometimes steered by earthy trip-hop rhythms, sometimes suspended over an endless, inviting cavern of darkness. Angelic sensuality and below-the-earth, beat-driven tribal menace are all wrapped in a provocatively gauzy, atmospheric sheen of David Lynch-ian beauty and terror. It's an inherently spiritual electronic domain, where the nature of the spirits isn't always apparent, but the beauty & power of their grasp is unavoidable. Reminiscent of Fever Ray, Matthew Dear, Vladislav Delay, Gazelle Twin, Sigur Ros, American Horror Story soundtrack.
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