Posted in Music

WE – Arcade Fire album review

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles!

Welcome to another installment of “2022 is the year that the music gods have blessed us”…

Arcade Fire has been a fairly constant presence in my life for as long as I can remember; for years, I’ve been hearing and loving songs from Funeral and The Suburbs in my car, and I nearly got to see them live on their last tour (the concert was on the same day as a school trip I had 😭). So I was so excited to hear that they had another album on the way a few months ago—and now that I’ve listened to it, I love it!

Enjoy this album review!

(note: I will be excluding track 3, “Prelude,” from my review, as it’s only 30 seconds long of vague bonking noises and static.)

WE – ARCADE FIRE ALBUM REVIEW

Track 1: “Age of Anxiety I” – 8.5/10

Right off the bat, I was so impressed by this song! One of my favorite songs on the album, and the perfect opener too. With its steady beat and timely lyricism, it perfectly sets up the landscape of the rest of the album—love it!

Track 2: “Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)” – 7.5/10

Continuing the momentum from “Age of Anxiety I,” “Rabbit Hole” keeps its steady pace. As long as it is, it manages to keep itself afloat for the full seven minutes and still be consistently listenable throughout. Not as good as I, but still a wonderful continuation.

Track 4: “End of the Empire I-III” – 8/10

“End of the Empire I-III” takes a turn into slower, more introspective territory. Its lulling and waving melodies feel immersive and welcoming, and it demonstrates the extent of Win Butler’s lyricism, the intense introspection and reflection that makes Arcade Fire stand the test of time.

Track 5: “End of the Empire IV (Sagittarius A*)” – 8/10

Most of the songs on WE have at twin of some sort, and I’ve noticed a pattern—they’re never interchangeable, but they’re nevertheless inextricably connected. In the instance of “Sagittarius A*,” it’s a continuation of the slow, measured reflection of the strange mess of the world in the last two years. The lyrics are far more on the nose here (repetition of “I/we/she/etc. unsubscribe[s]), but they’re nevertheless timely. I love the little electronic strains at the end as well.

Track 6: “The Lightning I” – 8.5/10

The two “Lightning” songs were the first singles to come out of WE, and this one reminded me of why I love Arcade Fire so much. So many people, so many instruments, all in exuberant harmony—just the kind of energy that we need in these unpredictable times. Ties into the general theme of the album, from what I can discern—clinging onto hope and togetherness in a time bent on tearing us apart.

Track 7: “The Lightning II” – 8.5/10

It makes sense that the music video for the two “Lightning”s is all in one; unlike the other twin songs, this one is has the smoothest transition from one song to the other. And it continues its contagious, exuberant joy, bringing the album to a hopeful, explosive crescendo.

Track 8: “Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)” – 7/10

This is my least favorite song on the album, but it’s nonetheless sweet, especially considering that Win Butler wrote it for his kid. The lyrics are more than a little on the nose, but they’re lyrics that everybody needs to hear growing up, which is what makes them so lasting. Sweet stuff.

Track 9: “Unconditional II (Race and Religion) (feat. Peter Gabriel)” – 10/10

MORE REGINE CHASSAGNE PLEASE AND THANK YOU

I’ve had this on repeat for a solid week—my favorite song on the album! Régine Chassagne’s vocals have an infectious joy and excitement to them, and combined with the harmonious music and message, it makes for the best song on the whole album. It’s already the highlight of the album, but having PETER GABRIEL, FOR GOD’S SAKES—that makes it even better!

Track 10: “WE” – 7.5/10

A gentle, slow ease out of a fantastic album. Even though Arcade Fire’s strength is in their numbers and varied instruments, sometimes their acoustic pieces are almost just as good. That’s the case of “WE”—not the best song on the album, but a perfect segway out of an adventurous album and a softer comedown from “Race and Religion.”

I averaged out all my ratings from each track, and it came out to a solid 8.2! I feel like that’s an accurate portrayal of my thoughts; WE is, without a doubt, high in the ranks of my favorite albums of 2022 so far—timely, but still rife with the infectious joy that makes me love Arcade Fire as much as I do.

Since this is an album review, consider the entire album to be today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Everything Was Beautiful – Spiritualized album review

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles, and happy world book day as well!! You’d think I’d have a book-related post today, but…nope. No thoughts, only Spiritualized for the next 3-5 business weeks.

Normally, I wait for a few days to a week after an album’s release to review it, but…well, between my listening to it yesterday and my dad playing it the whole way through in the car yesterday evening, I’ve probably listened to it three or four times in its entirety already, so…

Spiritualized has been one of my favorite bands for around two years—even longer, if you count when I first heard “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” for the first time and listened to it on repeat to fall asleep on vacation. Their music, if I had to describe it in one word, is all-consuming; J Spaceman has built a stunning career out of making a song into a vast cosmos of sound, making themes of heartbreak, addiction, and new love into the dictionary definition of larger-than-life. That’s what I’ve always loved about his music—his songs never feel like just songs, but experiences.

By the time I’d really gotten into Spiritualized, I’d accepted that I wouldn’t be able to see him live or experience a new album of his; he’d said in several interviews that And Nothing Hurt would likely be his last album. But in late 2021, we were gifted with the best kind of surprise: we would be getting more Spiritualized after all!! Now that it’s here, I can say with certainty that there isn’t a single bad song on this album. It’s probably impossible to re-achieve the genius of Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space or Sweet Heart Sweet Light, but Everything Was Beautiful comes very close, even at just seven songs.

Enjoy this album review!

EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL – SPIRITUALIZED ALBUM REVIEW

TRACK 1: “Always Together With You” – 10/10

This was the first single to come out of this album, and it singlehandedly provided all of the serotonin that I needed to get through the rest of 2021, so there’s that.

It’s not hard for me to say that this is easily one of Spiritualized’s best songs. Expansive and cosmic, I feel as though I’ve been lifted into the air and through the clouds every time I listen to it. I was texting my family about it when it first came out, and I jokingly called it “‘Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’ but happy,” and as much of a joke it was, it feels true; “Always Together With You” feels like a more matured, more hopeful version of its predecessor, down to the morse code sounds and J Spaceman’s daughter (😭) saying the album’s title at the very beginning. Absolute masterpiece.

TRACK 2: “Best Thing You Never Had (The D Song)” – 8.5/10

Smoothly transitioning from “Always Together With You,” “Best Thing You Never Had” keeps up the momentum set up by the first track with classic Spiritualized elements—catchy guitars, a backing choir, and what sounds like a good-sized brass section. Just as spacey as ever, it’s the perfect song for rolling the windows down in your car, and it’s sure to cement this album as one of Spiritualized’s best.

TRACK 3: “Let It Bleed (For Iggy)” – 9.5/10

When I saw Spiritualized back at the beginning of the month, this was one of my favorites of the new songs they played. Now that I’m hearing it through my headphones, it’s one of my favorites off the album! Here’s where the momentum sustained by “Best Thing You Never Had” picks up once more, with another sweeping, all-consuming thing of pure beauty.

TRACK 4: “Crazy” (cover of Nikki Lane’s “Out of My Mind”) – 8.5/10

(so apparently this is a cover?? took me a while to find out…I guess because the original has a different title)

“Crazy” is one of my least favorites on the album, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Even as a cover (I’ve only listened to the original once, so…), it’s indicative of the quiet, genuine tenderness that J Spaceman is capable of amidst all of the heartbreak and darkness that’s prevalent in so many of his other songs. Lovely.

TRACK 5: “The Mainline Song” – 9.5/10

This is another Spiritualized piece that seems more like a journey than a song—all of the train sounds layered in only adds to that effect. With J Spaceman’s airy vocals and rushing instrumentals, it’s another song that seems to physically carry you somewhere else, watching the clouds rushing by. It doesn’t even matter that it’s chiefly instrumental—it’s an unmistakable highlight of the album.

TRACK 6: “The A Song (Laid In Your Arms)” – 9.5/10

Like “Best Thing You Never Had,” “The A Song” is a persistent, powerful march reminiscent of Spiritualized’s harder side. For Spiritualized, longer songs are a common sight, but at over seven minutes long, this song never loses its impact or momentum, delivering guitars and brass that crash against you like waves on the shore. Nothing short of a masterpiece—and another song that was phenomenal live!

TRACK 7: “I’m Coming Home Again” – 10/10

For a lot of Spiritualized albums, the final song is either a sweeping ballad or a mournful, soft ending. “I’m Coming Home Again” is neither of those—and it’s almost more powerful than some examples of both. It’s the longest song on the album at almost 10 minutes long, and like “The A Song,” never loses its momentum all that time. But unlike the former, it achieves its affect more in its consistent feeling of foreboding. It’s a haunting song—I have an oddly specific feeling that it would mesh perfectly in the second-to-last episode of a TV show, in a scene where the main character gets their revenge, walking away from lighting something on fire. From the first notes to the final strains of the choir, “I’m Coming Home Again” is a looming masterpiece, and an unexpected but perfect ending to a near-flawless album.

I averaged out all my ratings for each track, and it came to about a 9.4! Absolutely accurate to how I feel about Everything Was Beautiful—it’s hard to touch some of Spiritualized’s other albums, but this album establishes itself as one of J Spaceman’s masterpieces. It’s the perfect melding of the sound of 90’s Spiritualized with the hope of 10’s Spiritualized, and it makes for an album with a lasting, haunting, and eternally memorable effect. Thank you, J Spaceman, for another religious experience. 💗

“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Since this is an album review, consider the entire album today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Lucifer on the Sofa – Spoon album review

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Sorry that I went M.I.A. for a bit there. I was visiting family in Florida over President’s Day weekend, and I just had zero energy once I got back. But now I’m here, writing a post that I’ve been excited to write for a few weeks!

You know what I think about a lot? The time my old English teacher though my Spoon shirt was a Morrissey shirt 😭

Spoon is one of those bands that have been a consistent presence in my life. I heard their songs on car rides, and car rides turned to concerts, and concerts turned to albums. For me, they’re one of the few bands I know who are better live than listening remotely—they bring such an exuberance and energy onstage, and their talents as musicians is apparent with every song they play.

So I was so excited to hear that they’d be releasing a new album in 2022! Prior to this, I’d never listened to a full album of theirs (although Gimme Fiction has been on my list for quite some time), but listening to Lucifer on the Sofa was such a bright, energizing experience. It’s only February, but this is already on my list of favorite albums of the year. (Though it’ll have some competition when Everything Was Beautiful comes out…am I getting too hasty?)

Let’s begin this review, shall we?

LUCIFER ON THE SOFA – SPOON ALBUM REVIEW

TRACK 1: “Held” (Smog cover) – 8.5/10

Starting an album off with a cover is a bold move, but at this point, Spoon can do no wrong. And this is a fantastic cover—if I didn’t know that it was a cover, I 100% would’ve thought that this was fully their song. I might even like it better than the original! The steady drumbeat and the melody that feels like it rolls over you create an atmosphere that sets up the whole album for instant success. Needless to say, I have not been able to stop listening to this!

(here’s the original by Smog, if you’re interested.)

TRACK 2: “The Hardest Cut” – 8/10

They’re sayin’ you need a little protection,

But following the leader gonna turn you off the religion…

Spoon, “The Hardest Cut”

This was the first single to come out of this album, and it reminded me of why I love Spoon. The guitars are what shine the most—”The Hardest Cut” doesn’t hesitate to dive into Spoon’s heavier side, and the guitars are the main driving force behind it. At the same time, it’s a relentlessly steady and catchy song, making this song proof of Spoon’s versatility.

TRACK 3: “The Devil and Mister Jones” – 8.5/10

For any album, there are some songs that you know will grab you way before you listen to them, just because of how hooking the title is. I don’t know what it is about the name “The Devil and Mister Jones” that caught my eye, but either way, it’s an undoubted highlight of this album. Catchy and bright-sounding, it has a timeless feel to it, like it could have just as easily come out of the 2010’s or even the 2000’s. LOVE it.

TRACK 4: “Wild” – 8.5/10

I was reminded every measure

Of riding trade winds, buried treasure…

Spoon, “Wild”

This one was the second single that was released, and another absolute earworm! The instrumentation is phenomenal, Britt Daniel’s voice stands out in the best way possible, and the beat makes it impossible for you not to nod your head. Instant classic.

TRACK 5: “My Babe” – 7.5/10

“My Babe” was the final single to be released from Lucifer on the Sofa, and although it’s my least favorite of the three, it’s still a perfect head-nodding, shoulder-swaying kind of song. However, there’s something about the lyrics that feels off-kilter. Not so much the message, but the way they sound, if that makes sense? I’m not sure. Not as strong as the others, but that’s a high bar—”My Babe” is still a good one.

TRACK 6: “Feels Alright” – 8/10

Standing here by myself,

A photograph with no correction

From me or anybody else…

Spoon, “Feels Alright”

Here’s another one that feels distinctly timeless. There’s an a quality to it that makes it feel ageless. For all we know, it could be from today, from the 2010’s, the 2000’s…even the future, who knows what Spoon will be doing five or ten years from now? That aside, it’s such a strong song! I especially love the piano/keyboard work on this one.

TRACK 7: “On the Radio” – 8.5/10

(I just realized that the animation for the official audios just zooms in on the album cover’s face…IT’S SO CURSED)

(WHY IS IT LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT)

“On the Radio” distinctly feels like the last few singles pre-Lucifer—something about the key, the fast tempo, the overall tightness of the whole song that makes me remember hearing “No Bullets Spent” for the first time. The guitars feel so full and rich, and the effects layered over them only adds to the effect. Another winner!

TRACK 8: “Astral Jacket” – 8.5/10

“Astral Jacket” is where Lucifer slows down—just in tempo, certainly not in quality. This song, along with “Satellite,” remind me of how well Spoon can convey tenderness through music; there’s an atmosphere around it that feels like a tired hug on a warm night. Simply lovely.

TRACK 9: “Satellite” – 8.5/10

Continuing the soft, tender atmosphere that “Astral Jacket” started, “Satellite” creates a floating-in-space atmosphere that fills up my heart. It reminds me most of “The Delicate Place,” my favorite Spoon song; the melody goes up and down, but it’s consistent in its warmth.

TRACK 10: “Lucifer on the Sofa” – 8/10

And I’m chasing every thought

And I’m walking over water,

Thinking about what I lost…

Spoon, “Lucifer on the Sofa”

For Spoon, my focus is usually the music over the lyrics, but for “Lucifer on the Sofa,” it’s both. I love all the descriptions in this one, from ash on lips to winter skies. There’s a consistency to the music as well—the saxophones are a strange addition, but it works perfectly for the smoky feel of this song. Not my favorite of this album, but a great little closer.

I averaged out the scores for each track, and it came out to a solid 8.3! Feels just right for the album; I haven’t listened to enough full Spoon albums to say where it ranks on the list, but it’s a success regardless. I remember periods of my life in terms of albums, and Lucifer on the Sofa will surely be among the ranks of albums I remember this year by. Can’t wait to see them again this May!

Since this is an album review post, consider the entire album today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Laurel Hell – Mitski album review

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

2022 is shaping up to be a year full of highly anticipated albums—Spiritualized, girlpool, Spoon (THIS FRIDAY AAAH), and so many others. Mitski’s Laurel Hell was the first of these; I’ve been a fan of Mitski since around 2019 after hearing “Washing Machine Heart” on the radio. Since then, I’ve delved more into her catalogue, but I’d say that 75% of what I’ve heard of hers, I’ve liked—hit or miss, but mostly hits. Bury Me at Makeout Creek was a near perfect album for me, but I haven’t listened to any of her other albums in their entirety.

So when I heard that Mitski was coming out with a new album, I was excited to take another dive into her catalogue. What I got, however, was an album that simultaneously stayed true to her past and branched out in new directions—with varying degrees of success.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Mitski: Laurel Hell Album Review | Pitchfork

LAUREL HELL – MITSKI ALBUM REVIEW

TRACK 1: “Valentine, Texas” – 7/10

“Valentine, Texas” is a sparse and eerie album opener. It slowly creeps along with only faint synths and Mitski’s breathy vocals, but eventually sprawls out into bright piano chords and a steady drumbeat. For me, it’s the musical equivalent of wading through pitch-black water—a beautifully atmospheric song and a great start to this album!

TRACK 2: “Working for the Knife” – 8/10

The fact that “Working for the Knife” was the first single released for Laurel Hell is a blessing and a curse—a blessing that it’s such a fantastic song, and a curse in that…well, it’s the highlight of the album for me, and it got released before everything else and raised my expectations. Nevertheless, this is classic Mitski at her best, with steady instrumentals and raw, biting lyricism aplenty.

TRACK 3: “Stay Soft” – 6/10

Open up your heart

Like the gates of Hell…

Mitski, “Stay Soft”

What Laurel Hell has revealed to me is that Mitski has begun to lean in the direction of poppier material. After the success of songs like “Washing Machine Heart” and “Nobody,” her songs have become more synth-dominated and upbeat (…well, musically upbeat) while still retaining their signature lyrical vulnerability. “Stay Soft” is just that, but for me, it didn’t reach the level of the latter two songs; the lyrics are some of Mitski’s best, but musically, it feels…strangely weak. Restrained, almost. Mixed feelings.

TRACK 4: “Everyone” – 8/10

And I left my door open to the dark,

I said, ‘Come in, come in, whatever you are,’

But it didn’t want me yet…

Mitski, “Everyone”

Although this isn’t *quite* as strong as “Working for the Knife,” it’s doubtlessly one of my favorites from this album. Like “Valentine, Texas,” its instrumentals are sparse, but it’s just as powerful and moving a ballad as any of her previous works. The imagery the lyrics evoke are especially strong, almost like dark fairytales in their sensibilities.

TRACK 5: “Heat Lightning” – 7.5/10

Sleeping eyelid of the sky

Flutters in a dream…

Mitski, “Heat Lightning”

By now, everyone’s made this comparison, but “Heat Lightning” REEKS of The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs”—and it’s great. There’s a feeling of quiet helplessness to it, a reluctant lament accented by pianos and synths. It adds to the feeling I’m getting from most of the album—a distinctly nighttime atmosphere, nighttime in a forest clearing with a lake.

TRACK 6: “The Only Heartbreaker” – 6/10

Out of the four pre-released singles for Laurel Hell, “The Only Heartbreaker” was my least favorite. It was still enjoyable and catchy, but the synths felt bland to me. The fact that it was only co-written by Mitski detracted from it as well; Mitski is her best when the lyrics are all hers, and for a Mitski song, these lyrics bordered on simplistic. Not that simplistic lyricism is all bad, but for an artist like Mitski, it’s uncharacteristic. Still a decent pop song, though.

TRACK 7: “Love Me More” – 8/10

Out of all of the more pop-oriented songs on Laurel Hell, “Love Me More” is my favorite. Unlike with songs like “Stay Soft” or “Should’ve Been Me,” Mitski throws off all restraints on her vocals, letting her beautiful voice soar along with the synth notes that seem to climb with the lyrics. It’s the happy medium between what Mitski once was and what she seems to be aiming to be—vulnerable, but infectiously catchy.

TRACK 8: “There’s Nothing Left For You” – 6.5/10

Like “Valentine, Texas” and “Everyone,” “There’s Nothing Left For You” shows the quieter, somber side of Laurel Hell with soft vocals and bare-bones instrumentals. Although I still like it, it doesn’t pack the same punch as the latter two songs I mentioned—it does have a “kicking in” moment, but it’s in the middle of the song, and fades away to the same as the first third once the song ends. It’s still good, make no mistake, but not quite as powerful.

TRACK 9: “Should’ve Been Me” – 5/10

“Should’ve Been Me” is where Mitski’s pop direion steers into mixed-feelings territory for me. Strangely, although songs like “Nobody” worked with upbeat music and not-so-upbeat lyricism, the musical pep of “Should’ve Been Me” seems far too peppy for the message it attempts to put out. Part of why it doesn’t succeed is where it sits in the album—right next to one of its quietest moments. The transition from “There’s Nothing Left For You” to this makes for a jarring listening experience—and not in a good way.

TRACK 10: “I Guess” – 7/10

“I Guess” should have been the album’s closer. A haunting refrain soundtracked by strains of muffled pianos, Mitski’s vocals reach their fullest potential in this second-to-last track. The production only adds to the “swimming in a lake at night” atmosphere—it’s a beautiful song.

TRACK 11: “That’s Our Lamp” – 5/10

It’s a shame that this is what closes off this album—the worst song, in my opinion. “That’s Our Lamp” is a strange attempt to create an 80’s-esque pop song, but although the music reaches some crescendos, it’s another instance where it feels as though Mitski is restraining herself vocally. The combination makes for a jarring song and a disappointing album closer.

Mitski's 'Laurel Hell' confronts the wild complexity of feeling : NPR

I averaged out all of the song ratings, and it came out to about a 6.7. That feels accurate for the album—I would still consider it an alright album, but there were songs that dragged it down too much. However, there were some hidden gems in the mix, and those are ones I’ll be sure to treasure. I don’t regret listening to the album, but it wasn’t Mitski’s best.

Review: Mitski - Laurel Hell | RANGE

Since this post is an album review, consider this whole post today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Valentine – Snail Mail album review

Happy Thursday, bibliophiles! Probably just gonna dispose of the “this isn’t a bookish post, but screw it, I’m still gonna use the bibliophile greeting” joke at this point. It won’t be missed.

Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while know how much Snail Mail means to me. Her music soundtracked the strange transition from middle to high school, filled with raw, genuine emotion and unforgettable guitar riffs. Especially during the summer of 2018, her music meant so much to me. I even got to meet Lindsey Jordan at a show that year; she was such a sweet human being, and she even gave me her guitar pick at the end of the show! She’s one of the reasons why I play electric guitar now.

Fast forward to the past few years. We hadn’t gotten anything besides a cover single since 2019, and from the jokes she made at the last show about her manager overbooking her on the last tour, I started to get worried. I distinctly remember several conversations with my mom that ended with “well, hopefully she’ll feel better soon, and then she’ll make an album about it.”

And, surprise, surprise, an album she made! Valentine made me remember all over again how much I love Snail Mail while marking a natural evolution into a newer sound.

So let’s begin this review, shall we?

Snail Mail: Valentine Album Review | Pitchfork

VALENTINE – SNAIL MAIL (album review)

TRACK 1: “Valentine” – 9/10

Getting this unexpected news on a cold September morning instantly brightened my day. It was what made me remember how much I loved Snail Mail. Even though Jordan’s voice has shifted to a deeper, raspier tone, this could have easily come off of Lush, with its soaring guitars and angsty declarations. And yet, it provides the perfect, most natural bridge from Lush to Valentine. It was the perfect first single, and it’s the perfect album opener.

TRACK 2: “Ben Franklin” – 8.5/10

Knowing that “Ben Franklin” got its name from the “presidential-type beat” memes adds a whole new layer to the song. It’s a good layer, for sure. Brings back memories of the night before taking my APUSH exam.

After the wondrous familiarity and “Snail Mail’s back!”ness of “Valentine,” “Ben Franklin” provided an organic segue into a newer, synth-dominated sound. Sultry and smooth, it’s the perfect blend of guitar, piano, and synth, all set to an instantly catchy beat. It’s a new direction for a musician who normally dominates her sound with guitars, but it feels just as genuine as anything from Lush or Habit.

TRACK 3: “Headlock” – 7.5/10

Though “Headlock” doesn’t wow me as much as some of the other tracks on this album, it’s solid proof that after all this time, Lindsey Jordan is just as much herself as she was in 2018. The evolution of Jordan’s voice shines in this song; her voice is just as raw and beautiful, but now it’s deeper, fuller. Combined with catchy guitars and pianos, this makes for a solid Snail Mail song.

TRACK 4: “Light Blue” – 9/10

Wanna wake up early every day

Just to be awake in the same world as you…

Snail Mail, “Light Blue”

In an album consisting almost entirely of songs about the ugly side of romance and breaking up, “Light Blue” provides a single spark of hope and pure love. Acoustic guitars and soft strings make for a heartwarming declaration of love, enough to make even the coldest heart melt. Leave it to Snail Mail to deliver genuine emotion in all its forms.

TRACK 5: “Forever (Sailing)” – 8.5/10

Whatever you decide,

I’ll chase you from the city to the sky,

And lose myself for you a thousand times…

Snail Mail, “Forever (Sailing)”

Like “Ben Franklin,” “Forever (Sailing)” contains so few of the guitars that became a hallmark of Snail Mail’s music. But even without them, it provides a glimpse into the evolution of her sound, making a steady, catchy beat out of a story of a relationship doomed to fall apart.

TRACK 6: “Madonna” – 9.5/10

Without question, my favorite of the three pre-released singles, and one of my favorite tracks of the album! The thrumming bass-line introduces a one-of-a-kind song, cleverly telling a story while seamlessly transitioning between heavy guitars and smoother, synth-driven slow points. I truly adore this song, everything about it just makes me so happy that Lindsey Jordan is back to making music?

(Also, the bass-line immediately made me think of this song…if I knew how, I’d try and make a mashup…)

TRACK 7: “c. et. al.” – 9.5/10

I went into this album hoping that I’d find the song that Snail Mail played live at the show I went to in 2019, one that she said “wouldn’t be out for a while.” After a few listens (the key change threw me off the trail), I found the famed “Baby Blue” song!

And it’s just as beautiful and raw as it was when I saw it love. Like with Lush, it segways into the sadder, more hopeless side of Snail Mail’s discography, providing a worthy companion to songs like “Deep Sea” and “Anytime.” The acoustic guitar accents Jordan’s voice perfectly, making for the perfect recipe for tugging at my heartstrings.

TRACK 8: “Glory” – 10/10

You owe me,

You own me,

Couldn’t even look at you straight on,

Shining in your glory…”

Snail Mail, “Glory”

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! Without a doubt, my FAVORITE song on the whole album. Everything about this song makes me so giddy, and it’s so wonderfully Snail Mail…GAH. The driving beat that ticks along in the chorus, Jordan’s soaring voice and clever lyrics, and the strong guitar throughout. Everything, down to the way that Jordan’s voice rings out on the final “glory,” makes for a perfect song. And can we appreciate the subtle “you owe me/you own me” turn of phrase? Golden.

TRACK 9: “Automate” – 8/10

I wouldn’t say this one quite matches how good the rest of the album is, but that in no way means it’s a bad song. At this point, the concept of a bad Snail Mail song is about as likely as the sun not rising tomorrow.

Oddly, my first thought upon hearing the intro was “SPOON.” It particularly reminded me of something like “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” or “The Way We Get By.” I don’t even know if Spoon is an influence of hers, but that’s what immediately came to mind. Either way, “Automate” is a song where you can almost see the beat pushing forward in front of your eyes. Compared to the rest of the album, there’s something that’s missing from it that I can’t place, but it still holds up in the grand scheme of it. Plus, guitars.

TRACK 10: “Mia” – 9/10

Mia, don’t cry,

I love you forever,

But I’ve gotta grow up now

No, I can’t keep holding on to you anymore,

Mia, I’m still yours…

Snail Mail, “Mia”

“Mia, don’t cry…” no, I’m crying. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me.

Sad cat meme

Like “Anytime,” “Mia” serves as the perfect melancholy closer for a near-perfect album. The solitude of Jordan’s voice, an acoustic guitar, and a string section brings out the somber tone of the song, making the lost love within it all the more heartbreaking. It’s hard to surpass “Anytime,” but I believe that “Mia” barely does just that.

Shoot, now I’m getting all sad…lemme just go back to “Glory” for a minute…

Snail Mail shares new track "Madonna" - 91.9 WFPK Independent Louisville

I averaged out all my ratings for each track, and it came out to an 8.9, which I’ll round up to a 9. Valentine, though rife with stories of love gone wrong, lifted my spirits and restored my hope in Snail Mail. There’s nothing that Lindsey Jordan can’t do, both as a songwriter and a musician, and this album is a beautiful, emotional testament to the fact. I’m so excited to see her live again in April!

Since this is an album review, consider this whole album today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Daddy’s Home – St. Vincent album review

St. Vincent - Daddy's Home Bronze Vinyl Edition - Vinyl LP - 2021 - EU -  Original | HHV

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’m ELATED that school’s over. Junior year online was awful, good riddance. I’m eagerly anticipating chucking all my math homework into the recycling.

And here I am with one of these album reviews that I only do once in a blue moon!

Ever since elementary school, St. Vincent has been a personal music hero of mine. From falling in love from tracks off of Actor, Strange Mercy and the self-titled St. Vincent, her music was a sanctuary for me during a time when, more than ever, I felt like an outsider. Her music shaped me, and seeing a confident queer woman quickly becoming the 21st century’s answer to David Bowie (and having her own line of signature guitars!!) was nothing short of empowering.

I lost a little faith in her after how much MASSEDUCTION disappointed me – the music was well-played, for sure, but the direction she went in just didn’t feel natural for her.

But I’m excited to say that I’ve completely forgiven her for MASSEDUCTION. I didn’t think I ever could, but Daddy’s Home is some of her best work to date, drawing inspiration from the early 70’s as she shifts into a darker, Young Americans-esque persona.

So let’s begin, shall we?

(NOTE: I’ll probably leave out reviews for “Humming (Interludes 1-3)” just because they’re only about 30 seconds long each)

St Vincent – Daddy's Home | Album review – The Upcoming

ST. VINCENT – DADDY’S HOME (album review)

TRACK 1: “Pay Your Way in Pain” – 10/10

[JOYOUS SCREAMING]

The first track of the album and the first single released, this song was almost singlehandedly responsible for my regaining faith in St. Vincent. From the opening notes of the piano to Clark hitting the high notes, repeating “I wanna be loved,” this song is perfection, pure and simple. 100% a highlight of the album, but there’s never a dull moment with this one.

TRACK 2: “Down And Out Downtown” – 8/10

GAAAAH. This is just one of those songs where the music makes you feel like all soft and warm and melt-y, but in the best way possible. Clark’s voice truly soars with this one, and the tempo seems perfect for driving with the windows down. The drums are incredible too! What a perfect beat.

TRACK 3: “Daddy’s Home” – 9.5/10

Where can you run

When the outlaw’s inside you?

– St. Vincent, “Daddy’s Home”

VERY NEARLY FLAWLESS. What’s not to love about this song? Some of Clark’s best lyrics, in my opinion, and the most 70’s vibes concentrated into a song since…y’know, a song that’s actually from the 70’s. I’m almost convinced that she’s a time traveller. And I’m not normally very enthusiastic about saxophones, but the ones in this one SOUND SO COOL?? WHAT THE HECK

TRACK 4: “Live In The Dream” – 10/10

Next to “Pay Your Way in Pain,” this is, hands down, my favorite song on the album. It has a very Pink Floyd sensibility about it, like the music of “Us and Them” and the lyrics of “Comfortably Numb” got together, which, as you can probably guess, is appropriately depressing.

IT IS.

It’s hard to listen to, but somehow, I can’t seem to stop listening to it. This feels like what “Young Lover” could have been on MASSEDUCTION – a dark tragedy of near-death and overdoses, drifting in and out of consciousness. It’s harrowing and haunting, but god, it’s beautiful.

TRACK 5: “The Melting of the Sun” – 7/10

To quote somebody in the YouTube comments section: “I don’t remember this Schoolhouse Rock episode…”

Out of the three singles that were released before the whole album, this was my least favorite, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t adore it. (Definitely the best music video of the bunch, though.) It feels a little slower, but it’s no less catchy and immersive, speaking to a lifetime of comparing oneself to others.

TRACK 7: “The Laughing Man” – 7/10 (shhh didn’t skip a track there was just a humming interlude in between)

[quietly] ohhhh ok so these are the lyrics on the sleeves of my hoodie

Next to “Daddy’s Home,” “The Laughing Man” dives headfirst into the 70’s aesthetic, and hits the mark perfectly. Warm, sultry and slow, it feels like slipping in and out of a dream. I can’t put my finger on why I don’t like it quite as much as the others, but it’s lovely nonetheless.

TRACK 8: “Down” – 8/10

Now this was a welcome reward for finishing my AP World exam…

My second favorite of the pre-released singles! Rhythmic and catchy, this is almost as cinematic and raw as “Pay Your Way In Pain.” No doubt that I’ll be playing this one on repeat quite a lot. AND THE GUITAR SOLOS! THE CLASSIC ANNIE CLARK GUITAR SOLO!

TRACK 10: “Somebody Like Me” – 9/10 (shh no worries there was another humming interlude)

Does it make you an angel

Or some kind of freak

To believe enough

In somebody like me?

– St. Vincent, “Somebody Like Me”

For some reason, the combination of the drums and the sample of laughing children at about 0:08 always sticks with me…

Even though the 70’s influence is clear, this feels like it could’ve fit just as well on Actor, Strange Mercy or even something as early as Marry Me. Delving further into haunting self doubt, Clark’s ethereal voice, combined with dreamlike instrumentation, backing vocals, and a steady drumbeat, this song just makes me feel so strangely good inside. I feel myself smiling as I’m listening right now…

TRACK 11: “My Baby Wants A Baby” – 9/10

But I wanna play guitar all day

Make all my meals in microwaves

Only dress up if I get paid

How can it be wrong?

– St. Vincent, “My Baby Wants A Baby”

This has to be one of her most personal songs in recent years; as the song progresses, we not only see her grapple with not wanting children, tenuous relationships, and moving away from self-reliance, but with being remembered only as “a woman in music.” It’s a classic tragedy, the injustice that is having “no legacy/Won’t have no streets named after me…they’ll just look at me and say/’Where’s your baby?'” There’s not a single lyric that doesn’t stand out in this one. LOVE IT.

TRACK 12: “…At The Holiday Party” – 6.5/10

(Did anyone else think that the title was a continuation of “My Baby Wants A Baby” just because of the ellipse at first? Like “My Baby Wants A Baby…At The Holiday Party?” No? Just me?)

Kind of like “The Laughing Man,” I can’t quite put my finger on why I don’t like this one at much, but it just doesn’t feel quite as potent as most of the others. I like the backing vocals and the steady beat, though.

TRACK 13: “Candy Darling” – 9/10

The perfect closing track to the album. Too short, but I guess that could be said about all of the songs on this album…

It feels like a bittersweet goodbye, a final descent into the dreamlike realm that the album consistently slipped in and out of. The musical equivalent of a hug goodbye and a kiss on the forehead.

(shh there’s one more interlude but that’s ok)

St. Vincent Teases New Single 'Pay Your Way In Pain'

I added up my ratings for the 11 tracks I reviewed, and it averaged out to about an 8.5. Which…huh? That can’t be right…

Nah. This isn’t an official review, right? And nobody here cares about how I round things, right? So I’ll just bump it up to a solid 9. It’s only 2021, but I think I already have my favorite album of the decade. All at once haunting, cinematic, and warm, it’s everything that I missed from St. Vincent: fantastic guitar solos, a soaring voice, and dark and clever lyricism. I just wanna give this album a hug.

In conclusion, FIGHT ME, PITCHFORK.

St. Vincent gets a new signature guitar model ahead of new album release

Since there’s a whole album packed in here, consider this entire post today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Little Oblivions – Julien Baker album review

Julien Baker → Little Oblivions

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles! I suppose this isn’t a bookish post, but I’ll keep my normal greeting, because hey, most of what I post is about books. But here’s something a little different.

So here I am, finally reviewing Little Oblivions!

I got into Julien Baker late last year, starting with Sprained Ankle after hearing her distinct voice as part of the supergroup boygenius (with Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus). I was immediately hooked on Sprained Ankle, liked but didn’t love Turn Out the Light (Sprained Ankle > Turn Out the Lights, fight me Pitchfork), and so of course I was excited to see that she was coming out with something new. What stands out most to me about her music is the raw emotion of it; Baker never hesitates to explore the darker side of everything, and does so with such intense, palpable motion. Even with just a guitar or a piano, she can make a shrieking ballad of grief or heartbreak out of anything.

And I’m glad to say Little Oblivions is no exception. While Baker experiments with bigger, brighter sound, she stays true to the emotional aspect that defines her body of work, making a whole new set of resonant and soaring music.

So let’s begin this review, shall we?

Julien Baker is a queer, Christian, socialist — we had to talk to her by  Religion and Socialism Podcast

JULIEN BAKER LITTLE OBLIVIONS (album review)

TRACK 1: “Hardline” – 9/10

Say it’s not so cut and dry,

Oh, it isn’t black and white,

What if it’s all black, baby,

All the time?

– Julien Baker, “Hardline”

NOW THIS IS WHAT I CALL AN AMAZING OPENING TRACK! Baker’s foray into new, more electronic sound proves an immediate hit, paired with her signature raw lyricism. Plus, we’ve got an amazing stop-motion music video to match!

TRACK 2: “Heatwave” – 7.5/10

The last single to be released before the whole album, “Heatwave” is reminiscent of the boygenius EP. There’s a deceptively upbeat tone and composition to it, hiding some of Baker’s darkest lyrics. The instrumentation almost reminds me of Wilco.

TRACK 3: “Faith Healer” – 9/10

This one was the first single to be released before the whole album, and it has been a consistent earworm for MONTHS, let me tell you…

Such beautiful, concise instrumentation, a steady beat, and even the effects overlaid over Baker’s unique voice fit right in with the almost spacey keyboards. A completely new direction for her musically, but one I’m ADORING.

Wooohoooo!!! — Marvel Contest of Champions

TRACK 4: “Relative Fiction” – 9/10

‘Cause I don’t need a savior,

I need you to take me home…

– Julien Baker, “Relative Fiction”

It would be a bit of a stretch to call this a love song, but that’s almost how I interpreted it on the first listen. “Relative Fiction” delves into Baker’s quieter, more musically sparse roots for a tender and poignant song of grappling with emotions and questioning one’s own self worth, and the meaning one might hold for others.

TRACK 5: “Crying Wolf” – 7.5/10

Continuing “Relative Fiction”‘s trend of quieter and sadder introspection, “Crying Wolf” presents a piano ballad reminiscent of Turn Out the Lights that soars to a resonant conclusion. (That “OOOOOO” that starts at about 2:33…[CRIES])

TRACK 6: “Bloodshot” – 7/10

There’s no glory in love,

Only the gore of our hearts…

– Julien Baker, “Bloodshot”

The song where we get the album cover’s gorgeous lyricism, “Bloodshot” toes the line between the two musical themes of Little Oblivions so far, oscillating between the electronic experimentation and the sparser, quieter ballads. Another deceptively upbeat song, telling of messy emotions and shaky relationships.

TRACK 7: “Ringside” – 6.5/10

I still enjoy this one, that’s for sure, but it felt a little bit like a lull in the middle. The lyricism is still stellar, but something about it doesn’t pack as much of a punch as the rest of the album so far has.

TRACK 8: “Favor” – 8.5/10

You pulled a moth out

From the grill of your truck,

Saying it’s a shame,

How come it’s so much easier

With anything less than human,

Letting yourself be tender?

– Julien Baker, “Favor”

As with “Graceland Too” on Phoebe Bridgers’ Punisher, this boygenius collaboration truly shines. The combination of the voices of Baker, Bridgers and Dacus never fails to make my heart soar to the clouds, and paired with such poignant lyrics, “Favor” is absolutely a highlight of this album.

TRACK 9: “Song in E” – 10/10

My favorite song on the album, hands down. This one again harkens back to Turn Out the Lights, but something about both the piano and Julien’s vocals takes it to all new heights. It’s just…[sniffles]

And something about the way she says “name” at about 0:40 just makes my heart go 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺

TRACK 10: “Repeat” – 9/10

Ocean of strip malls,

I help you swim across

To the other side…

– Julien Baker, “Repeat”

Another example of Julien’s decision to go more electronic with her sound paying off 100%. Catchy, but continually poetic in its lyricism, this was one of my favorite songs that wasn’t released as a single before the album’s released. Again, can’t put my finger on it, but I love the way Baker sings all of the words past the 3/4 mark with the long ‘e’ sound (ex. means, speak, street, dream, repeat). My brain can’t be troubled for a concrete reason, but it’s so beautiful.

TRACK 11: “Highlight Reel” – 7.5/10

Not my favorite on the album, but the instrumentation itself is what shines for me. I love the drums, the guitar, the…well, the everything. I can’t quite pick out what instrument (probably keyboard?) it is, but the part from about 3:21 to the end reminds me a bit of St. Vincent’s “Teenage Talk.”

TRACK 12: “Ziptie” – 6.5/10

Not the best ending for this album and a lower point overall, but still lovely. The lyricism is still painfully beautiful, but it just seems to wander about almost aimlessly. A good listen, but maybe something like “Repeat” or “Bloodshot” would have been a better end to the album.

Julien Baker is just being honest | EW.com

I averaged out all of the scores for each track, and they came out to almost exactly 8! I’d say that’s accurate; Little Oblivions wasn’t without its occasional low points, but even those were songs that I’ll surely come back to. A stellar album, and a bold new direction that payed off with every song.

And even though this wasn’t on the album, I can’t not talk about this…

I–

I think I’ve died and gone to heaven. This is a transcendental cover. And hey, Julien Baker and Radiohead: two of my favorite things.

Since this post is full of songs, consider this whole album today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Punisher (Phoebe Bridgers) Album Review

Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher (2020, Vinyl) | Discogs

Happy Friday, everyone! I’ll dispense from my normal greeting, as this isn’t a bookish post…

I discovered Phoebe Bridgers late last year. “Smoke Signals” was the first of her songs to capture my imagination, and it prompted me to listen to her debut album, Stranger in the Alps. Though it wasn’t without its flaws, it was gorgeously lyrical and haunting at times. So naturally, I was excited to find out that she was releasing a new album. And she released it A DAY EARLIER! It’s been about a week since its release, now, and now I can say with certainty that her sophomore album, Punisher, is a worthy predecessor that may even surpass some of her older material.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Phoebe Bridgers Wants to Believe - The New York Times

ALBUM REVIEW: PUNISHER–PHOEBE BRIDGERS

TRACK 1: “DVD Menu”–7/10

A strange and haunting instrumental prelude to the album. Woozy, with almost a fever-dream vibe, it’s almost foreshadowing for what’s to come.

TRACK 2: “Garden Song”–7/10

This was the first single to be released out of the whole album. When I first listened to it, something about it got under my skin, but as I’ve listened to it more, something about it has grown on me (no pun intended). A nostalgic, dreamlike opener to the album.

TRACK 3: “Kyoto”–9/10

One of my favorite songs off of the album! This is the perfect song for rolling your windows down in the middle of the road. Bridger’s already stunning voice never fails to give me chills in the chorus. Phenomenal.

TRACK 4: “Punisher”–9/10

Bridgers said in an interview that the album’s title track was about being a huge fan of Elliott Smith. Though I’ve barely listened to his music, everyone from Becky Albertalli to David Arnold have sung his praise. But even if you aren’t familiar with the song, you’re sure to be familiar with the feeling it evokes–that of worshipping somebody that you’ve never met, and people associating you with them. Phoebe Bridgers never fails to be able to connect to her listeners.

What if I told you

I feel like I know you?

But we never met…

TRACK 5: “Halloween”–6.5/10

Though most of Bridgers’ catalog is already more melancholy and mellow, this fails to keep up the pace kept up by “Kyoto” and “Punisher”. It’s still a decent song, but it doesn’t pack as much of an emotional punch as some of the other tracks on the album.

TRACK 6: “Chinese Satellite”–8/10

Picking up from the slight lull of “Halloween,” this track delves back into Bridgers’ signature, heart-wrenching lyricism, weaving a tale of losing yourself and wishing on false stars. Absolutely beautiful.

TRACK 7: “Moon Song”–7.5/10

A soft, drifting track that dives more into Bridgers’ more dreamlike side. A song that could simultaneously rock me to sleep and bring me close to tears, if the mood struck me.

And if I could give you the moon,

I would give you the moon…

TRACK 8: “Savior Complex”–9/10

Without a doubt, one of the highlights of this album. With lyrics that stick and a melancholy melody, this is Phoebe Bridgers at her best. Again, her voice just gives me cHILLS…

TRACK 9: “ICU” (previously titled “I See You“)–7.5/10

(SCREAMING)

A catchy track that leans more into Bridgers’ poppier side. Though it teeters on going into the places that I thought “Garden Song” went when I first listened to it, it’s still a good song; not her best, but not her worst by far.

TRACK 10: “Graceland Too”–7.5/10

First of all, shoutout to Phoebe Bridgers for putting a banjo in a song that doesn’t instantly infuriate me.

With folkier instrumentation, “Graceland Too” weaves a beautiful, melancholy tale of newfound freedom and self-discovery.

So she picks a direction, it’s 90 to Memphis,

Turns up the music so thoughts don’t intrude,

Predictably winds up thinking of Elvis

And wonders if he believed songs could come true…

TRACK 11: “I Know the End”–9.5/10

A positively stunning end to the album. Laced with Bridgers’ signature lyricism, she quickly amps up the emotion, growing tense before erupting into chaotic instrumentation. The album ends with the sound of her raw screams and breathing as she seems to recover, somehow making it feel powerful and intimate all at once. The best possible song to end the album on.

Over the coast, everyone’s convinced

It’s a government drone, or an alien spaceship,

Either way

We’re not alone…

Phoebe Bridgers – 'Punisher' album review

I averaged out all of my song ratings, and it came out at about a 7.9, which I’ll round up to 8. Punisher was, without a doubt, a worthy successor to Stranger in the Alps. Phoebe Bridgers has outdone herself on her sophomore album, creating something magical with her lyricism and dreamlike melodies. In short, Punisher is very nearly a masterpiece, and Phoebe Bridgers is an artist to be reckoned with.

The Big Listen: Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher | Guitar.com | All ...

Since this post is an album review, you can consider this whole album today’s song.

TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK! HAVE YOU LISTENED TO PUNISHER, AND IF SO, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Making a Door Less Open (Car Seat Headrest) Album Review

Making a Door Less Open | Car Seat Headrest

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while know how much I love Car Seat Headrest. Ever since…oh, maybe 7th grade (?), their songs have never failed to enchant me and pull me in. So naturally, I was absolutely over-the-moon when I found out that they were releasing a new album in the form of Making a Door Less Open. After a few listens, however, I’m not quite disappointed, but I think I set my expectations too high. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a decent album, but I think they released all the good singles first.

Anyway, let’s get on with the review, shall we?

WILL TOLEDO <3.gif

TRACK 1: “Weightlifters”–8.5/10

WOW. 

Now that is what I can an AMAZING start to an album. With the slow-burn effects, combined with Will Toledo’s signature, introspective lyrics, this is an absolute stunner of a first track. Probably my favorite of the songs that weren’t released as singles beforehand.

TRACK 2: “Can’t Cool Me Down”–10/10

This was the first single that was released, back in…March, I believe. A vastly new direction for Car Seat Headrest, but one that I enjoy thoroughly. Well-written and eternally catchy. Definitely the highlight of the album for me.

Dancing GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

TRACK 3: “Deadlines (Hostile)”–8/10

This feels like something straight off of Teens of Denial, and if we’re talking about that album, it’s always a compliment. Lyrically poignant and musically pleasing, this one 100% contributes to the album’s strong start.

TRACK 4: “Hollywood”–8.5/10

Here we veer into a briefly punchy and screamy direction for CSH, and it’s in no way a bad thing. I’m interested to see that Andrew Katz (drummer & producer of this album, correct me if I’m wrong on the latter) is starting to contribute vocals, and though I didn’t care for it as much at first, but it meshes well with the overall feel with the song

IT’S KINDA GROOVY

TRACK 5: “Hymn (Remix)”–5/10 

Eh…this is where the album starts to go downhill for me. It’s like they were trying to go more in the synthy direction of “Can’t Cool Me Down,” but it…didn’t work. Not much in the lyrics department, and a wholly unnecessary slathering of autotune and weirdness that ultimately sullies Will Toledo’s gorgeous voice.

God, I know I sound snooty, but personally, this is the worst song on the album…

TRACK 6: “Martin”–8.5/10

(First off, thank you to Will Toledo/Trait for retaining clean habits during these uncertain times…)

Such a sweet love song, with Toledo’s signature, beautiful lyrics. Catchy and unusually bright, considering most of the subject matter of…a good 75% of the rest of their discography.

TRACK 7: “Deadlines (Thoughtful)”–7.5/10

I feel like this is the weaker of the two “Deadlines,” but that’s not to say that I don’t like it. Though some of the effects don’t bug me, the a capella ending (starting at about 5:37) really manages to tug at my heartstrings.

TRACK 8: “What’s With You Lately”–7.5/10

Short and sweet just as depressing as you’d expect any CSH song to be. A tender meditation on creativity and seeing other people imitate your work. Also, we haven’t really heard Ethan Ives (guitar) contribute any other vocals other than backing vocals, so it’s cool to see him doing lead vocals on a song.

TRACK 9: “Life Worth Missing”–7/10

Certainly a decent song, and wonderful lyrically, but musically, it’s bordering on…spineless? With a song like this, it kind of needs punchy guitars throughout, and it almost gets there in the second half, but not quite enough to be potent.

TRACK 10: “There Must Be More Than Blood”–8.5/10

Another strong point on the album, this feels reminiscent of some of their older, longer songs, especially ones like “Famous Prophets (Stars)” and “Cosmic Hero”. Potent and tender, this one’s definitely one of the more memorable songs off of this album.

TRACK 11: “Famous”–6/10

Afer such a beautiful song as “There Must Be More Than Blood,” “Famous” feels like a letdown of an album closing. If not for the effects layered on the vocals, I probably would have liked it a lot better–the lyrics are incredible, but they almost get lost in all the discordant autotune layered over them. Eh.

Car Seat Headrest — Radio 1190

I averaged out all of the song ratings, and it narrowed down to about a 7.7/10. I’d say that’s accurate–it’s certainly not a bad album, but it’s not nearly as mind-blowingly good as Teens of Denial or Twin Fantasy (Face to Face). There’s certainly a multitude of strong points (“Can’t Cool Me Down,” etc.), but the more mediocre tracks only serve to weight it down. A daring exploration into a new kind of sound for Car Seat Headrest, but one that had its highs and lows.

Since this post was an album review, you can…pretty much just consider the whole album for “Today’s song”.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

thank you for reading.jpg

Posted in Music

color theory (Soccer Mommy) Album Review

Image result for color theory soccer mommy

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I was introduced to Soccer Mommy via the car radio around a year ago, and I’ve been hooked on her music ever since. From listening to all of Clean to seeing her open for Vampire Weekend in October (!!!), Sophie Allison has always had such a signature sound that, no matter the subject matter, strikes a chord with me (no pun intended)–not quite in the lyrics as much, but most definitely in her masterful guitar work. color theory was just as good–if not better–than its predecessor, diving even deeper and finding beauty in vulnerability and grief.

Alright, let’s get this review started…

Track 1: “bloodstream”–7/10

Though not as emotionally potent as some of the other album’s tracks, “bloodstream” combines catchy, indie-pop riffs with lyrics yearning for the innocence of the past as Allison struggles to grapple with her present. The video’s pretty weird, but it definitely fits with the aesthetic that all of the album art/merch has been trying to go for. Not bad!

 

Track 2: “circle the drain”–8/10

What began with “bloodstream” has been effectively elevated to the next level. Allison is the master of the deceptively upbeat song; these lyrics, along with much of the rest of the album, deal with struggling with mental illness and grief. And yet, without listening to the lyrics, those two things wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Absolutely catchy and lyrically potent.

 

Track 3: “royal screw up”–7.5/10

I’m not gonna lie here: the up-front metaphor of being the “princess of screw-ups” is a bit cheesy for me, personally. But sometimes, these things are necessary to get your point across after you dive into the more complex songs on the album. Aside from that, Allison’s bare guitar work shines on this track. And it’s an earworm in the best way possible. Mission accomplished.

Track 4: “night swimming”–9/10

Without a doubt, one of the best songs on the album, and a unique piece in the grand scheme of Allison’s work. Atmospheric, ethereal, and dreamlike, I feel as though I’ve been transported to a secluded lake illuminated by moonlight every time I listen to this song. Gorgeous in every sense of the word.

 

Track 5: “crawling in my skin”–9/10

Reminiscent of the punchy riffs of Clean, this one’s another favorite of mine. After the beauty of “night swimming”, “crawling in my skin” feels more refined, more thought out than tracks like “bloodstream” and “royal screw up”. Even if you’ve never felt this way, it perfectly portrays the feeling of being trapped in your own mind, and the fear of being left to your own devices at the wrong time.

My only complaint is that it always makes me think of this…

 

Track 6: “yellow is the color of her eyes”–9.5/10

Though it was one of the early releases, “yellow is the color of her eyes” still holds up for me as the most masterful song on the album. An emotional, 7-minute ballad of grieving, this is where the album reaches the height of its emotional potency, deftly balancing prose with up-front expressions of grief and emotional collapse. What a masterpiece.

 

Track 7: “up the walls”–7/10 

Though it’s just as lyrically potent as most of the album, and certainly very catchy, “up the walls” feels as though there’s something missing. The instrumentation sounds purposefully bare, but it doesn’t work quite as well as “royal screw up”. But nonetheless, the slight discordance is, in its own way, a testament to the feeling of falling apart.

Also, I’ll keep telling myself that the title/first line is a reference to this…

I mean, there’s a veeeeeery slim chance that it is, but I’ll just go back to my fantasy world now.

You fools, you didn’t think that you could escape this post without a Radiohead reference? [maniacal laughter]

 

Track 8: “lucy”–8/10

This one was the first single to arrive, out of the four that came out before color theory was released in its entirety. When it first came out, I wasn’t keen to it–I’m not sure what it was, but something just…put me off. But after a few more listens (and seeing her perform it live), I’m definitely hooked.

When I saw her live, she said that this was “a song about the devil,” and I’ve just now figured out that Lucy might be a pun on Lucifer…

…aaaaaaand now I hate myself for not catching that earlier.

But either way you interpret it, “lucy” is wonderfully catchy and the slightest bit discordant.

 

Track 9: “stain”–8.5/10

With every somber note, “stain” is the feeling of crumbling at the foundations set to music. Haunting and potent, Allison boasts another example of how a few lines of music can alter your mood for the rest of the day. I can’t decide whether I’m in awe or whether I want to go into my room and cry.

 

Track 10: “gray light”–6/10

Though the lyrics are almost as potent as “yellow is the color of her eyes” and “stain”, “gray light” feels unfinished: decent, but a mishmash of different effects overshadowing the haunting lyrics. Kind of a disappointing ending to the album, but it didn’t ruin it, not by any stretch of the imagination.

 

I averaged all of the ratings, and it came out to a solid 7.95, so I’ll just round it up to an 8/10 overall. Just as luscious and potent as Clean, color theory is a musical exploration of grief that should not and will not be forgotten. Long live Sophie Allison. 💗

 

I’ll omit a song for today because…well…this entire post is a “Today’s song”…

 

That just about wraps up this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves! (And listen to/stream/buy color theory while you’re at it!)

thank you for reading.jpg