Album Reviews: May 28 2018

Album Reviews: May 28 2018

Beach House- 7 (Baltimore, Maryland)

After their last few albums, Beach House had reached a powerful sound while not really changing that much going forward. For 7however they are evolving once again and using all their signature sounds in ways we've never heard before. They open the record with a cinematic swell on "Dark Spring" as Victoria Legrand plays more of a witch than her usual sombre delivery. A new hip hop beat is a welcome surprise on "Lemon Glow" as twisted synth hooks sets the song into a transfixing swirl of ideas that you wouldn't expect to work together. There's more of a mantra-like quality to the building vocals on "L'Inconnue" as wailing feedback and a mix of French vocals find Beach House at their most ambitious in years. Beach House leads with bass more than ever on "Black Car" as they present one of their most abrasive songs ever while creating a real tension in their writing.

Sparklesaurus - Sparklesaurus (Ottawa)

As Sparklesaurus have evolved over the past few years, it's been amazing to see how one band can develop a sound. For their self-titled LP, the band fully explores this sound while bringing the catchy writing you've come to expect. "Kick Drum" serves up this sound in equal parts frantic rhythms and dreamy dives into synth and guitar, for a song will take you into ethereal bliss. Though there's certainly a familiar riff driving "Candied Heart" Sparklesaurus manage to keep things from feeling too familiar by grace of their sparse arrangements and pointed delivery. "The Royal We" sets off with a handful of steady grooves, but manages to tie so many different song ideas together into one cohesive piece that you'll be constantly surprised. They also hit an excitingly experimental track on "Haircut" as they loosen up their writing for a song that takes advantage of their studio possibilities to make a track that's keeps building on itself.

Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel (Sydney, Australia)

Each cut off of Courtney Barnett's debut was a sharp and pointed listen with more honesty than most were ready for. With expectations high for a follow-up, Barnett shifts to less overt pop and a record that provides more depth than her previous effort. In the heavy guitars of "Hopefulessness" there's a true sense of momentum to Barnett's writing, while her lyricism keeps things from going stagnant when she slows it all down. This wit comes through a lot more on "City Looks Pretty" where she's hilariously biting in her lyrics but trying to be funny and warm as well. There's something immediately catchy while brutal to the sound of "Need A Little Time" where Barnett turns a lot of pain into something inspiring and full of maturity. "Nameless, Faceless" runs with one of the album's most infectious grooves while Barnett manages to ramp up to sheer Nirvana levels of aggression in her choruses.

Braden Foulkes - The Beauty Of Life (Ottawa)

As the polka-bounce to "Plant A Smile" sets off the album in a weird country blend, there's Foulkes delivers his message with so much earnest goodwill that it's hard to fault him. Though the darkness behind it is show in hints, his ability to work a groove and tell a fleshed out story comes out sharpest in "Need Somebody (To Save Me)." A tender sensibility and uncertainty starts to show on "Waiting For The Day" as Foulkes commands his guitar and strings through a powerful ballad of hope. While it pulls from the most influences, "Beauty Of Life" reflects on everything we can take from life, and becomes itself more a reflection of those things.

La Luz -Floating Features(Seattle)

Straddling a tangibly inspired sound while evolving your writing can be hard but La Luz really create something fresh here. Their new album does occasionally sink too deep into its influence but makes up for it in spades continuously. As they set things off on the menacing melodies of "Floating Features" they set the tone with mesmerizing riffs and a beat that not only drives the song but shows their unusual penchant for weird rhythms. "Cicada" hits hard with a vintage aesthetic surrounded by dense instrumentation for something as exotic is it is classic in terms of hooks. They hit a strangely laid-back energy on "Golden One" that makes their slow dive into trippy sounds all the more impactful. "Lonely Dozer" however leans into their inspired sounds while tweaking everything just off-centre enough to make something completely new out of it.