Album Reviews: December 3, 2018
Thom Yorke – Suspiria (England)
Tackling a classic work is daunting, and it's often better focus on capturing a feeling of the original work rather than update or distort it. By doing so just like Luca Guadagnino's film does, Thom Yorke creates a piece that not only suits the film but works quite well on its own between its mix of pop, score tones and experimentation. The ominous drone of "A Storm That Took Everything" sends shivers through a heavy emulation of monumental weather and the coven of witches that approaches in the movie. Though they don't permeate the whole album, all the audio from Yorke and the film itself work a terrifying bit of magic themselves. This creates a real sense of unease and violence within "The Hooks" giving so much of the film's visuals without anything in front of you, as the low-end make you feel textures. In a much more riff-driven moment, "Suspirium" breathes with some of the record's strongest melodies, while Yorke sings and composes a band into a fully realized cinematic experience. Where other tracks make sly allusions to Goblin's previous score and even give you overt feelings of the film itself, "Unmade" uses its piano to guide you through everything this score has to offer and manages to work its way into the film well without disturbing the immersion like Sufjan Stevens' tracks in Call Me By Your Name.
Josephine Leone – Watch Out (Ottawa)
Josephine Leone tap in, to a bit of Santana swing and Linda Perry like vocals on their new single "Watch Out." As a preview of their latest album, the track boasts string dance energy and has the attitude ti explain their recent dates with Bif Naked, Loverboy and even the Pack A.D. Even the track's matter-of-fact lyricism taps into something out of hip hop and garage rock, letting its more country-born tones colour this delivery interestingly. Though they cry out with stories of strong-headed bravery, their punk growls charge it all to inspire power. While Josephine Leone are definitely boasting energy over sonic-intrigue at this moment, they'll no doubt be showing us something explosive on their debut record.
Julia Holter – Aviary (Milwaukee, WI)
One of Julia Holter's greatest strengths has been her ability to mix jazz and the worlds of orchestration into sophisticated pop. As she pushes this concept even further however, she creates two separate moods that create a tension across the album. Like an overture being sucked into a vortex, "Turn The Light On" sees strings alternating between a warm-up and a warped delivery as Holter sings distantly to sound like a ghost. "Whether" pulls the orchestra in and out to build a dynamic tension, and its more shaded edges keep the whole track moody. Urgency is the lead feeling on "Everyday Is An Emergency" with all the tracks sharp edges play as easily as music as they do as a tool to make you feel concerned. She marries the two worlds of her record on "I Shall Love 2" where all the record's background colour gives the rigorous writing a flavour too sweet to ignore.
The Reverb Syndicate – Last of The V8 Interceptors (Ottawa)
Like the Mad Max films that clearly inspired this album (at least in title), there's a sense of majesty as the album starts out enigmatically on the guitars and loose hum of "Asphalt Sunrise." With the bass and beats taking over the album flows smoothly into "Motorik" where The Reverb Syndicate are able to take this moody air and make something pop out of it. Their surf tendencies never lose the grit of their influencers on "Hench 4 Life" while they manage to bring their darkness somewhere fun but sinister. "Sigue Sigue Stingray" has a real thematic tone to its ringing guitars and lets each ripping lead guitar line flesh out their very textural sound for a song that is as much a good piece of scoring music as it is great rock music.
Robyn – Honey (Stockholm, Sweden)
It's been nearly a decade since Robyn's last full outing, and if anything it's really only hurt how well the textures of her album stand out. As she hits listeners with emotionally rich dance songs, this album sees the singer ready to climb back to the top. All the grooves of "Missing U" work with the keyboards to create a soaring feeling that lets Robyn's story of love sink in with full force. She pushes her listeners with the more jagged production of "Human Being" where she rides the line between catchy and unusual until you'll never forget the song's sound. There's such a personal and honest touch however to "Baby Forgive Me" that it wins you over immediately, as Robyn uses her own crowds to talk about her doubts. "Honey" blasts with hopeful energy however, with Robyn's atypical choice of sounds coming together with a sense of beauty.