Posted in Music

Sometimes, Forever – Soccer Mommy album review

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

In a continuation of my assertion that 2022 is the year that the music gods have blessed us, here’s a review of one of my most anticipated albums of the year!

I’ve been a fan of Soccer Mommy since hearing her on the radio years ago, listening to all of her albums and even seeing her live a few times (once opening for Vampire Weekend, the next time headlining—the crowd SUCKED for that one but she was great). So when I heard that she had a new album coming out this June, I was ECSTATIC. Unfortunately, the album ended up coming out on the same day that they announced that Roe v. Wade was overturned, so…yeah, that soured my mood for the whole weekend. But when I was able to get back out of the muck, I listened to this album, and it solidified itself as my favorite album of hers—each one just keeps getting better and better, and Sometimes, Forever was particularly adventurous!

(for my review of the album before last, color theory, click here!)

Enjoy this album review!

SOMETIMES, FOREVER – SOCCER MOMMY ALBUM REVIEW

TRACK 1: “Bones” – 8.5/10

You make me feel like I am whole again,

But I think your heart could use a tourniquet…

Soccer Mommy, “Bones”

Especially with the rest of the album to contextualize it, “Bones” is the perfect opening track for Sometimes, Forever. It feels just enough like classic Soccer Mommy that it feels timeless, but it’s a catchy, familiar-feeling song that eases you into the different direction that the rest of the album goes. On its own, it’s the perfect little indie-pop song: hooky, lyrically witty, and filled with bright guitars.

TRACK 2: “With U” – 9/10

This is where the album starts getting adventurous, and I’m 100% here for it! Lyrically, Allison is sharper than ever, but the addition of the more electronic instrumentals combined with her classic guitar work makes an immersive soundscape that swept me off my feet on the first listen. LOVE IT.

TRACK 3: “Unholy Affliction” – 10/10

This. THIS.

“Unholy Affliction” was the second single to be released from this album, and after “Shotgun,” this is what made me certain that I was going to love the album. My family and I agreed that it sounded like a Chelsea Wolfe song, something completely unexpected—and highly successful—for Soccer Mommy! Dark, immersive, and pulsating, “Unholy Affliction” was an instant favorite on the album, and one of her most daring songs to date.

TRACK 4: “Shotgun” – 8/10

Look at your blue eyes like the stars,

Stuck in the headlights of a car…

Soccer Mommy, “Shotgun”

This was the first single to be released for the album, and while it’s not the best on the album, like “Bones,” it’s an instantly catchy indie-pop song. In comparison to the rest of the album, it almost seems like Allison is playing it safe, but it’s also proof that even when she’s holding back, she can produce something as fun and memorable as this.

TRACK 5: “newdemo” – 7.5/10

Hear the city roar,

A creature that feeds behind closed doors…

Soccer Mommy, “newdemo”

Dizzy and strangely sweeping, “newdemo” strays into new territory like “Unholy Affliction” did. It’s clear that Soccer Mommy and company had fun messing around with different synths and distortions while producing this song; it feels like it’s actively being warped around as you listen to it, veering slightly off-key but bringing itself back together just as swiftly. Not quite as successful as some of its counterparts, but still a success in and of itself.

TRACK 6: “Darkness Forever” – 9/10

Again with the Chelsea Wolfe sounds!! “Darkness Forever” edges close to metal on several occasions, with a creeping bassline and heavy, distorted guitars. Just like “Unholy Affliction,” Soccer Mommy’s experimentations with darker sounds lead to nothing but success—definitely one of her best songs in recent years!

TRACK 7: “Don’t Ask Me” – 8.5/10

With its fast, punchy guitars and Soccer Mommy’s airy, alluring voice, “Don’t Ask Me” has an easy time of cementing itself as one of the highlights on Sometimes, Forever. While it doesn’t delve completely into darkness like “Darkness Forever” or “Unholy Affliction,” it’s unafraid to get heavier, which works completely in its favor. An instant earworm and one of my favorites off this album!

TRACK 8: “Fire In The Driveway” – 9.5/10

Saw it in your blue eyes

When you were just a small child,

Now you’re only ashes of a man…

Soccer Mommy, “Fire In The Driveway”

“Fire In The Driveway” grounds Sometimes, Forever after the fast-paced “Don’t Ask Me,” delving into the nostalgic melancholy that makes Soccer Mommy so memorable. With its instantly memorable lyrics and bright, echoing guitars, this one is an easy standout on an already fantastic album.

TRACK 9: “Following Eyes” – 7.5/10

The lyrics are as potent as the rest of the album, but there’s something about this that puts it lower on the list for me. It’s still a fantastic song, no question, but it’s almost as though it tries to mesh older Soccer Mommy with her newer, darker sound. It’s very close to making it, but there’s some tiny bit missing, something that doesn’t quite piece the whole thing together. Nonetheless, still a great song.

TRACK 10: “Feel It All The Time” – 8/10

Like “Bones” and “Shotgun,” this feels like a timeless Soccer Mommy song—if you had told me that it had been from color theory or even Clean, I would’ve believed you. Yet still, it easily finds its place on this album, deftly adding to the mix of borderline-playing it safe to exploring new territory.

TRACK 11: “Still” – 9/10

I don’t how how to feel things small,

It’s a tidal wave or nothing at all…

Soccer Mommy, “Still”

For the closing track, Soccer Mommy brings it home with a somber acoustic piece laced with ghosts of the strange synths that adorned a good portion of the album. Unlike “Following Eyes,” the blend feels natural, and Allison’s knack for bringing genuine emotion to the forefront creates a beautiful end to the album, and a beautiful song that can stand by itself.

I averaged out my ratings for this album, and it came out to about an 8.6! I’d say that’s right on the mark; with every album, Soccer Mommy gets better and better, and Sometimes, Forever is her best work yet—dark and bold, but unafraid to return to her candid, emotional roots. Love it!

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

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

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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

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!