“Colors” is a well-crafted, poppy return to Beck’s goofier roots
Unlike other surprise hits from 1990s alt-rockers (here’s looking at you, “Creep”), Beck’s massive 1994 track “Loser” is actually a pretty decent look into the artist’s discography; the hip-hop beat, loopy white-boy rap and countrified guitar lick are pretty hard to categorize. Beck has made his career out of contradictions and unpredictability. Earlier records took liberally from country, rock, pop and rap, not really caring about being taken seriously. He is a musical genius, to be sure, but one that doesn’t forget to have fun.
His latest LP, “Colors,” embodies that spirit of good times. Largely a pop record sprinkled with indie rock sentiments, it finds Beck focusing less on being different from everyone else and more on enjoying the moment. Taken from an artist largely defined by his uniqueness, this is a bold step. And it pays off: from hilariously goofy trap track “Wow” to the shamelessly simple “Up All Night,” the songs here are instantly catchy yet undeniably the work of a highly gifted songwriter.
St. Vincent expands her electro-infused art rock on “MASSEDUCTION”
In 2012, St. Vincent, known at this point for her emotionally rich and musically complex art-rock records, and impressive guitar abilities, collaborated with Talking Heads mastermind David Byrne on a record. That her talents earned the attention of one of new wave/alt-rock’s legends is no small achievement. On her fifth LP, “MASSEDUCTION,” St. Vincent — real name, Annie Clark — continues that genre’s legacy, seamlessly melding biting guitars with pulsating electro beats on a jittery, exciting record.
Though her instrumental arrangements sometimes eschew normal concepts of consonance, Clark’s left-field songwriting is, at its center, beautifully melodic. There is a pop album in the heart of “MASSEDUCTION,” perhaps most noticeable in aching ballad “Happy Birthday, Johnny” and “New York.” But Clark adds dimension to these songs, exploring anxieties and insecurities through deeply funky and delightfully different ways.
“Morning After” solidifies dvsn as an R&B producer/singer duo to watch
Known first as Drake affiliates, producer Nineteen85 and singer Daniel Daley have quickly carved out their own identity as the R&B duo dvsn. From their breakout single “With Me,” their chemistry was immediate and undeniable. Now, they’ve released “Morning After,” their second album in two years that sounds full-fleshed despite the speedy turnaround.
The songs here are filled with sexual intimacy and emotional longing, examining the connection between loneliness and romance, relationships and break-ups, in ways that some other artists in the business of bedroom jams never bother with. And yet, the music remains effortlessly smooth and remarkably catchy, incorporating trap beats over throwback rhythm sections. And then there’s Daley’s incredible falsetto, weaving in and out of Nineteen85’s production like they were built for each other. Don’t sleep on dvsn; they’re one of the best in the game.
“The OOZ” is a chilling, genre-less excursion into King Krule’s mind
Listen to this album and you will uncover sounds that are startlingly beautiful, devastatingly sad, terrifyingly dark and utterly unforgettable. It is the brainchild of Archy Marshall, a 23-year-old Brit with a voice that sends chills down your spine. As King Krule, sometimes he raps and sometimes he sings in a punk kind of way. Sometimes he seems to do both simultaneously, and sometimes he’s almost doing neither, instead doling out spoken-word verses that sound like a broken man, unbothered to try and make musical sense out of his situation.
This seems to be the primary mission of “The OOZ:” to capture a sound of losing control, to successfully put on record the turmoil of Marshall’s mind. He has complete artistic control here, playing and writing every instrument, and depending on where you begin the album, you might here a Clash-esque punk track, an ominous electronic track or a jazz-inflected ballad. As a whole, the tracks merge almost seamlessly, creating an experience that feels whole. It is a deeply personal listen, designed to penetrate and instigate the mind. It is, simply, a work of genius — nightmarish, gorgeous genius.