Album Reviews: February 5, 2018

Ty Segall  – Freedom's Goblin  (California)

Considering how often Ty Segall puts out music under one project or another, it's genuinely baffling he hasn't put out a rough album in ages. In Freedom's Goblin, Segall honours classic rock wholeheartedly while making something insanely quirky and his own. "Fanny Dog" sets the album off with raucous, shrieking instrumentation and a British Invasion-era pop-sensibility that makes the song aggressive but sophisticated. Segall's cover of "Every 1's A Winner" rips out with brutally gritty guitars and poignant drums for a surprisingly modern update of the song. The bizarre writing of "My Lady's On Fire" spins its seemingly predictable rock sound into strange directions and Segall's production really pushes the envelope like on so much of the album. One of the strangest tracks is "The Last Waltz" that runs with its swinging beats to make something eccentric but emotionally raw.

The Frame Perfects – The Neon Night Hard Drive (Ottawa)

Good synthwave music seems to come and go with the indie movies that inspire them. Instead of waiting for another fad, Ottawa's The Frame Perfects deliver some glossy vintage synth work that will scratch that itch left by bands like Lost Years. As they set the stage for the album on "Corbomite" the 80's synths breathe with life, and carry a retro vision of the future. "Trilithium" starts to really push the abrasive riff work more, but it's the moody background sounds of the track that really make it stand out. While "Metreon" has many of the strongest parts overall of the record, in its grooving bass line and massive synth hooks, it certainly spaces them out enough in its extended runtime. The lush riffs of "Antiproton" call to artists like Kavinsky and Lazerhawk immediately, and the way The Frame Perfects drive these hooks home makes them all the more powerful.

Dream Wife – Dream Wife  (UK)

There's something utterly overpowering about mixing catchy hooks with guttural amounts of distortion. For their self-titled debut, the London power-trio focuses their grimy aesthetic to something constantly infectious that will win you over immediately. The band straddle dreamy synths and dirty shrieks on "Let's Make Out" creating a sense of tension between their varying textures that they explore cleverly throughout the record. They take a more direct guitar-pop sound on "Someboy" that subvert the upbeat energy with more menacing lyricism to create a shocking contrast. There's a spontaneous energy to "Hey Heartbreaker" that keeps it constantly invigorating, and it's sharp drum lines make it a sonic stand out to the rest of the record. Dream Wife gets the most ambitious on "Kids" however as they take very predictable and sunny alt-rock energy and subvert it with increasingly abrasive vocals to ramp up the energy throughout the song.

The LYNNes – Heartbreak Song For The Radio (Ottawa)

Lynn Miles and Lynne Hanson have such a strong sense of synergy when they play together, one might even wonder if they have a blood connection rather than similar names. On this release from the Canadian power-duo, they truly complement each other's strengths powerfully for a folk record with soul. They start the album with a smoky energy on "Cold Front" as the their duet brings different emotions to a song full of battling instrumentation from head to toe. They cross into alt-country on "Cost So Much" as their harmonies seem to show how common the song's suffering is rather than telling the other side of a story. The pair hit their most refined pop on "Heartbreak Song For The Radio" as their glossy piano-pop transcends much of the album's sound to make a track that's memorable and tugs at the heart-strings. "Dark Waltz" mixes its heavy strings with flickering guitar lines, and lets the pair take turns on vocals to give a more intimate aesthetic to the song.

Holy – All These Worlds Are Yours  (Sweden)

Despite the saturation point the music world has hit with psychedelic rock in recent years, Sweden's Holy brings back a lot of the magical and otherworldly qualities that have become rarer as of late. Just like their peers in bands like Pond and Tame Impala, Holy bring an utter mastery of sound to their record while only being a handful of albums into their career. "Night On Earth" roars with massive percussion that sets the base for the epic wash of synth lines that give this album its sheen. Short and sweet, "And She Breaks The Day! A Clarity" brings more powerful imagery to its brief interlude than many albums manage from start to finish, and it's unique sound makes it one of the rare interlude tracks that can be listened to out of its album's context. "Dreaming Still?" floats on its cushion of ethereal synth notes before repeatedly exploding with bass and drums with palpable excitement that make its constantly rotating sonic-pallet a joy to follow. Holy hit their most fantastical notes on "Heard Her" as they use clever symphonic arrangements and vocal effects to transport listeners into their own twisted narrative.