• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: Beirut, Bob Mould, Noi and more

Panda Bear – Buoys (Baltimore, MD/Lisbon, Portugal)

Though it goes without saying that Panda Bear has definitely maintained a specific sound and niche kind of writing, he's always carved infectious writing into this sound. For as often as he meditates on ideas in this latest release, Panda Bear makes a lot of sonic candy for listeners to dig into. With this in mind, there's great textures all over "Dolphin" that elicit a kind of marine wonder while lulling you into a soft, relaxing groove. "Cranked" on the other hand lets its main riff cycle over and over, as its layers of echo and reverb slowly transport you into a heady world. Fans will have a lot to bite into on "Master" as it calls to the pop-heavy tracks that Panda Bear often tackles with Animal Collective. Things get really addictive on "Inner Monologues" too, where the mix of experimental sounds fuses perfectly with the otherwise bouncy writing.

Night Lovell – Goodnight Lovell (Ottawa)

As one of Ottawa's leading names in hip hop, Night Lovell isn't disappointing on his new album. With parts strange production and grimy vocals that avoid much of the affected delivery that has made mumble-core so annoying, Lovell is earning his stripes on this record. With a spooky atmosphere and his growl, "Mary Jane" takes what is a fairly familiar set of lines about partying and makes it unnerving in his delivery. Though "Bad Kid" doesn't push outside of tropes nearly enough, it's hilarious to see Lovell mocking the art of making music in several of his humming bridges. Beats ripple and vocals fall into each other on "Pain" where the simplicity of his instrumental becomes elegant in a simple blend of echo and creeping synths. It's the aggression of "Watch Me" however that really sees Lovell starting to use the album's creepy tones to his advantage. 

Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock (San Francisco, CA)

As he returns to the fold, Hüsker Dü's Bob Mould certainly has the same ferocity that he did when he was young. Although he doesn't always hart a lot of new ground, Mould creates a constantly loud and exciting record, and one you can just sing your heart out to. You get off to a fast and intense start on "Sunshine Rock," with guitars screeching and a feeling of momentum that sets the whole album up well.  You can feel this same hungry energy on "What Do You Want Me To Do" though Mould certainly tends rely on many more rock standbys here. Luckily Mould gets out of his comfort zone on "The Final Years" and there's so many weird mixes of guitars and keyboards here that it's a magical listening experience. There's even a little grime left on Mould's wheels for "Send Me A Postcard" and you feel the unyielding passion that he wants to communicate to his audience. 

Noi – Noi's War (Ottawa)

Noi has continuously found a strange middle between indie, experimental and about ten other genres in their work, and this latest release is intriguing in some new and unexpected ways. "Asimov Maneuver" sees Noi creating a warm feeling while using bass and filters to give a soft song an overtly oppressive feeling. There's an alternatively jazzy feeling that is morphed into  electronics on "White Hat & Surf Engineer" and before you know it you'd swear you're hearing Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" being taken through another world. Though Noi really gets into melodramatics in the lyrics of "Heaven.enc" there's so much unusual beating to instrumentals that it maintains a sense of unique luster to it. "Symmetrical" takes a fast and grinding post-punk idea and gives it a digital bit of smudging, for a track that can feel fast and slow at the same time.

Beirut – Gallipoli (Brooklyn, New York)

For those who want something a little more classy in their pop music, Beirut have seemingly brought renaissance paintings alive here. While their new record is more of a sonic experience than a collection of songs, there's so much wonder in the writing you can really feel mesmerized. You get truly transported listening to "When I Die" as Beirut sweep you into so many great orchestrations that you'll want to just sit there. After the trumpets of "Gallipoli" however, you'll be treated to a wonderful rush of rhythms and more entrancing arrangements to take you out. "I Giardini" also starts to get weird with the otherwise soft tones of the record, and tries to question exactly how classical the sounds you're hearing are. They even get a little demented on "Corfu" to take out the album on unusually morose themes for the record.