The Scene’s album review brew
After a summer of long-anticipated album releases and even some surprise ones (“Magna Carta Holy Grail,” anyone?), artists from all genres have begun putting out albums early in the fall to help transition into cooler weather. After all, autumn is a time for change, whether it’s a moodier sound or a more mature image. Check out the albums below, and maybe you’ll make a change to your playlists as well.
Kiss Land- The Weeknd
“Kiss Land,” much like the Toronto-born Abel Tesfaye’s previous content, is not meant for mainstream radio play. Or any radio play for that matter. Every song on the album except one is between four and eight minutes long.
The lyrical content on “Kiss Land” is the same as always – sex, drugs, money and the like. The Weeknd’s production value has greatly improved on this album with Tesfaye’s signature layering keeps his moody, low-fi sound intact. The only example of drastic experimentation in terms of sound is “Wanderlust,” a funky danceable track perfectly placed in the middle of the album to break it up. And of course, his quivering falsetto is incredibly beautiful, particularly on “The Town.”
“Kiss Land” is an album to play from beginning to end without skipping around, making it ideal for when you’re getting down to business, no matter the type.
Recommended If You Like: James Blake, Burial, Drake, Frank Ocean, A$AP Rocky
– Jane Morice
AM- Arctic Monkeys
With their fifth album “AM,” Arctic Monkeys finally seem to be at home with the sonic territory they set out to explore on their previous two albums. Ditching the doom and gloom of “Humbug” (2009) and abandoning the sparkling guitars of “Suck It and See” (2012), “AM” sees Arctic Monkeys distilling the best traits of those lukewarm efforts into a truly remarkable album that confirms the necessity of their experimentation. It is polished, reserved and altogether more mature. Frontman Alex Turner’s exceptional lyricism is all the more impressive as his vocal talent reaches a career peak on stand out tracks “Arabella”, “Do I Wanna Know”, “Knee Socks” and “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?”.
RIYL: The Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age, The Kills
– Trent Burns
The Electric Lady- Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monáe brings the old-school radio, ‘60s vibe in her new two-part album, “The Electric Lady.”
The first part of the album, “Suite IV,” will surely interest listeners with its quirky, dance-alone-in-your-bedroom type of feel. “Suite IV” is better for the common listener as it stays true to Monáe. Featuring Solange, “Electric Lady” is a stand out and fits both artists- the song is as electric as the title.
Part two of the album, “Suite V,” takes a different approach with a slower tempo, but still draws in the listener. The last song, “What An Experience,” ties both parts of the album together.
As a whole, “The Electric Lady” flows smoothly and tells an eloquent story.
RIYL: Lauryn Hill, Solange, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott
– Brianna Williams
While the “LONDON” EP summons a dark fog on the horizon, Banks’ warm voice is like a blanket on a cold, fall afternoon. Influenced by Lauryn Hill and Fiona Apple, the Los Angeles native has her own distinct voice while bending the indie pop pool with electro-R&B production.
All four songs on this EP flow into each other with ease, building off the energy set the by previous track. Opener “Waiting Game” contains the most layers as it reveals the frustrations of love while “This Is What It Feels Like” slowly burns a scorned lover to the core with its hypnotic beats. Banks’ vocals get stripped down on “Bedroom Wall,” a killer collaboration with T.E.E.D. (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinoasaurs), followed by the most dynamic track, “Change,” which closes the EP on a high note.
The “LONDON” EP is intoxicating and liberating.
RIYL: Lauryn Hill, Fiona Apple, The xx, FKA twigs, The Weeknd, James Blake
– Sydney Gore
Everything Is Debatable- Hellogoodbye
Hellogoodbye has undergone a significant shift from being a caustically influenced punk band to a more independent vibe. “Everything Is Debatable” is the third studio album by the band, and it is every bit a compliment to its predecessor “Did it Kill You?” in tone and structure. Forrest Kline’s vocals and lyrics remain moody and emotionally inclined.
The production and sound mix is classy, with far more emphasis on orchestrated brass and string sections in tracks such as “Summer of the Lily Pond” and “A Near Death Experience.” The album feels heavily influenced by Passion Pit and Two Door Cinema Club’s echo-y, remorseful and sonic landscape in tracks like “Just Don’t, ” the title cue “(Everything is) Debatable” and the jaunty opener “…And Everything Else Becomes a Blur.”
RIYL: Two Door Cinema Club, Atlas Genius, Passion Pit
– David Kahen-Kashi
Neo-psychedelic pop idols MGMT are back with a third, self-titled album which can best be described as a fusion between the Flaming Lips’ electronic insanity and Barrett-era Pink Floyd psychedelic rock. Certain tracks are underlined by a sense of urgency that marks the band’s latest move towards a darker, deeper realm of psychedelia. Tracks like “A Good Sadness and I Love You Too, Death” even border on industrial rock.
“MGMT” for the most part has done it right. It’s entrancing, it’s enveloping, and it’s enthralling. It may lack the funky dance hooks of their debut, but “MGMT” has just enough of the band’s trademark groovy psychedelic kicks to make up for its occasional missteps as they venture further yet into the weird.
RIYL: The Flaming Lips, Phil Spector, Portugal. The Man
– Alejandro Alvarez
Correction: A former version of this story incorrectly identified T.E.E.D. as TEDD.