David Williams ’14
Lorde is the newest foreign pop star to burst onto the American scene. The huge hype for this 16-year-old singer-songwriter has been enormous, with one single debuting at number one on the Billboard charts in the US. Pure Heroine is a study in constant sound that emphasizes the few seconds of silence that occur in the album. The album is an ode to the anxiety of the transitions of teenage life and growing up to the responsibilities of life. However, this isn’t through a heavily auto-tuned voice with a guitar back tracking. Instead, this is the pure beat of a base drum and simple toms accompanied by the amazingly mature voice laid over. This simplistic formula is when Lorde is at her best, left to bring out her passion for the music in the tones of her voice and the versatility that she brings to the different tracks of the album.
The lust for the rich lifestyle of hip-hop and pop is broken down by the perspective of a teenager viewing the lifestyle from outside of the inner-city where it originated. The luxury of the lifestyle is rejected in the track “Royals”, while “Glory and Gore” embraces rap and the competitive and battling culture that it’s created between rappers. Ultimately, “Pure Heroine” is a deep examination of the experience of a teenager growing up and dealing with the explosion of fame, but it delivers in a way that hits at the heart (through the veins) and is more than pleasant on the ears.
Joseph Lantague ’16
I have got a confession to make: I am a Justin Timberlake fan. And as a Justin Timberlake follower, I loved his album The 20/20 Experience that came out earlier this year. When I heard there was going to be a second part to that album, I got very excited. Unfortunately, this album doesn’t sound or feel like an extension on the music from the first part; it feels like a completely different record. I’m not sure if it matters, but the first part had no explicit songs in it, while the second album has six, and it just so happens the two songs that I really liked were not marked explicit. If I had a word to describe the first part, it was class; the second I am still undecided on due to the various different sounds to the album. Some songs sound like classic Justin, others I simply don’t like, and one song even reminded me of the Classic Rock era of music. As a fan of Justin Timberlake, I did enjoy the album, but unfortunately, I cannot recommend it to other people. If I were you, just spend the money on Take Back the Night and Drink You Away, as they are the real standouts of this album.
David Williams ’14
Dr. Dog’s seventh studio album is a new start for the band. Recorded at a new house and studio in their hometown of Philadelphia, this new album does not break the mold the band has built with their last two albums. Continuing to look back at the 60’s and 70’s surf and psychedelic bands, B-room sounds like the soundtrack to a 70’s movie. However, this album lets you down when compared to past albums, like We all Belong and Fate, by not producing a take away hit. There is simply no song on the album that you’ll remember and hum as you walk.
In losing the horns and branching out into the psychedelic, Dr. Dog has lost some of their soul. The older albums had a sense of reinventing the tired surf rock and British invasion-era pop that so heavily influenced the folk rock that the band used to create. There is nothing really new about B-room, and that’s truly the problem with the album. Instead of listening to Dr. Dog’s take on the Doors, it’s easier and more rewarding to listen to the source of inspiration. Dr. Dog lost their spark for creating and experimenting with old sounds, and in doing so, has lost the drive in their songs and produced an album that’s enjoyable to listen to, but not a memorable experience.
MGMT’s new self-titled album continues right on the heels of the album that redefined the art-rock genre. After 5 years, the sound is still a unique mix of hi-fi and lo-fi recording mixed with the rampant introspection that propels each new listen and uncovers something different each time. MGMT has more of the chant like songs that wrapped up Oracular Spectacular and mixes in new hits. Another deep look into childhood transitions to a nihilistic overview of aging and a journey to rediscover the meaning in life. This album is a major comeback from the notorious sophomore slump Congratulations. While critically acclaimed the album just did not land with fans, but MGMT hits in all the right places that were just missed in the last try.
The album starts rather slowly with “Alien Days” show casing the heavy beats that will drive each song and mark your trek through MGMT’s proverbial wonderland. The album eventually gives way to always cheerful, synthesizer-filled, bubble-gum pop that sweeps you away to where MGMT looks to channel “Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out.” Ultimately, this album is fractured in much the same way Oracular Spectacular was. The songs move in and out of different genres and sometimes the order clashes in the transition. Overall, MGMT has succeeded in combining the styles of past albums creating a driving paradigm for future music.