Album Reviews: Idles, Deftones, Will Butler
Idles — Ultra Mono (Bristol, U.K.)
Fast and brutal is the way Idles has made their music stand out, and way they've evolved is finding the power of silence. Using the ups and downs of dynamics like a sharpened blade, this band is screaming out with an utterly satisfying punk LP. Just when you're adjusting the stop and go of "War" the cataclysmic fills from the guitars and drums pick up all the more, and instrumentation sounds as human as the vocal cries do. A knack for more riff-infused music lets "Mr. Motivator" feel like another step up for the group, that harnesses Joe Talbot's ferocity with catchy fun. Though lines like "Kathleen Hanna with bear claws" are beautifully self-aware tableaus to savour here. The non-stop rush of "Ne Touche Pas Moi" provides a wonderfully violent retort to anyone acting inappropriately towards others, not only vocalizing the anger behind its sentiment with Savages' Jehnny Beth but giving it an acoustic fury. A flip on their usual mood appears in "The Lover" where the band slow things down to bring out the weight in their hefty drums and more pronounced rises and falls of feedback.
Fast Romantics — Pick It Up (Toronto)
Able to spin a truly cosmic sound out of their numbers, Fast Romantics go all out with this latest release. Feeling almost like they're wrapping up on "Pick It Up," the group makes a song so huge and infectious it is definitely the song to show the breadth of your talent. Whether it's a synth or a human calling from the ethers of "Made for You," the group uses the echoing halls of this track to make something cold but hopeful. Even with the acoustic guitar leading "Top of the Mountain" the crunch of the drums and a ghostly sense of harmony lets them create something shimmering and unnerving. Ironically the most riff-rocky note ends it all on "Do No Wrong" as they hit you with a dozen fun hooks, that while less distinct on their own, become a true riot in the galactic tones of the record.
Deftones — Ohms (Sacramento, CA)
Deftones have made a career lying on the perfect edge between the sinister hard rock and the outright metal. As they create a shadow full of rich shades both sonically and in mood, they get truly wild on this record. "Genesis" brings an occult beauty in its chant-like harmonies and the dense riffs that ooze something otherworldly in their bones. The wet neon of "Urantia" plays to a Nine Inch Nails-like electronic edge at times, with its fuzzed-out guitars always keeping you on the edge of a total blowout. Though not unfamiliar, there's a fun to the way "Pompeji" retools its rock ideas with a sense of place unique to Ohms. "Radiant City" removes pretense for a song that constantly pushes you into its depth unapologetically to show you the sense of majesty they find in what otherwise feels menacing.
Mobley — Nobody's Favourite (Foster the People Rework) (Austin, TX & Los Angeles)
Taking the more laidback feeling of Mobley's original track, Foster the People tap into a DFA style remix on their revamp. Admittedly that only sets the base for the songs dance core, while the arrangement changes lets the whole song take on a new life with drums as the catalyst to let everything else shine a little brighter and serve to give a drop a new tension. The ring from Mobley in that dark chorus build is haunting, and one that will give you goose bumps as you reach it. It's in this focus on a direct production and pounding details that the whole song really becomes its own new idea while honoring just enough ideas to feel like it's still possessing an older body.
Will Butler — Generations (Brooklyn)
Whether he's searching to just add a complex fun to pop or shake up the meandering drones of experimental music Will Butler is always pulling one genre away from its trappings. Part DIY fun and part political outcry, Butler is able to lend a magic to his music to make you listen either way. Just as you're settling into the meditative run of "Outta Here," it slams into an excited charge that only gets more parade-like as it moves. As it takes on a bit more light, "Close My Eyes" blooms into this wondrous pop celebration, full of charming whistles and vibrant life in every detail. "I Don't Know What I Don't Know" sinks into its fat and often warped tones to make a cry that starts to blur the sound of a whole band into one amorphous wailing note. Though getting the best feeling in the back half of most songs here demands patience, the euphoria of a dance gem like "Promised" is utterly worth it too.