Over the last few months many artists that I’m in favor of have put out new albums. Here are my thoughts. (You’ll see most of my thinking involves listening to the album one time and thinking one thing but then listening to it again and thinking something else.)
Franz Ferdinand, “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand”
Not the brilliant step forward that “You Could Have it So Much Better” was, but it’s not a failure. A grower, as Niall said, but it hasn’t grown too strongly on me. There are some catchy bits and some smooth bits, but if my ears are the target market, this record isn’t earning many dollars.
Probably I need to listen to it a few more times because it's not like I don't believe in the Archduke anymore.
Lily Allen, “It’s Not Me, It’s You”
Upon a first listen, this record made a real excellent impression on me. It stood out as what a second album should be: new and original, but not a total departure. The sound here is Lily, but different from two and a half years ago. The songwriting is slightly (only slightly!) more mature, so that’s good. Little bits of progress without totally ditching everything that we liked the first time. But the second time I listened to this record I could only think: “Man, Lily’s attitude is wearing me out.”
Morrissey, “Years of Refusal”
Pretty similar to his last two records (“You are the Quarry” and “Ringleader of the Tormentors”) with plenty of grand and indistinguishable songs about the usual Morrisey moods and a couple standout tracks (such as “All You Need is Me” and “Something is Squeezing My Skull”) that, on the whole leave you thinking “This is fine, but I hope he doesn’t just play these songs at the concert.” But, this said, I think it’s possible I like this record best of the last three…still, I’d prefer to keep my Smiths/Morrissey classics playlist on shuffle.
The Streets, “Everything is Borrowed”
The last record from the Streets, “The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living” really wasn’t very good . . . or it wasn’t very good the last time I listened to it, which was years ago, and I’ve felt no need to try it again since then (unlike “Original Pirate Material” or “A Grand Don’t Come For Free” which I do revisit.) I expected “Everything is Borrowed” to fall flat, but actually didn’t mind it on my first listen—Mike Skinner’s messages just get more and more positive, which is interesting, and there were a few songs that I found catchy enough (perhaps these were “I Love You More (Than You Like Me)” and “Never Give In” and maybe one more). But the second time I listened to this record (today), I felt it fell flat. Hard. So it's good for one listen, then it's best you walk away.
Lee “Scratch” Perry, “Repentance”
It took me way too long to find out that this record even existed…twelve tracks of Perry at his loopiest produced by fellow madman, Andrew WK. This record immediately provoked a very particular and special response within me, a feeling of “This is exactly what I want my music to sound like”, a feeling I only get every once in a tiny while (previous winners have been “Fever to Tell” and “Arular.”) This record is weird but focused and bursts and bubbles with nutty brilliance. A sick, slick party with heavy doses of swagger that I didn’t want to leave and just keeps cracking me up.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Zero”
So it has come to this: Now I’m getting texts from my youngest brother asking me if I’ve heard the first song from the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs record yet and I find myself confessing that I didn’t even know it was out. First, credit goes to the YYYs for making this song very hard to find online, the only way I’ve been able to hear it is streaming off their myspace. In a move that might strike you as very done before and awful 90’s, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have ditched guitars for synthesizers but, guess what? This song is GREAT and has me very excited for "It's Blitz!", which is coming out in the middle of April. What does the song sound like? Karen O's voice being amazing on top of electronic victory, that's what.