• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: Idles, Molly Lewis, Paloma Faith

Idles – Tangk
Bristol, England

Always ones to unleash a riot on their records, Idles’ increase the sonic and emotional depth on their latest record. Despite the a few more downbeat tracks, the band comes out with a fuller sound than ever, finding more intricate production to play around with, and details to make their sound soar. There’s an unhinged excitement that overtakes your body listening to “Gift Horse,” which makes you want to boom with the band on every cataclysmic chorus. The maturity of their production this time around though adds layers all over, providing anxious bells in places and utter silence to up their dynamic punch in others. Hearing them shift to more abrasive electronics on “POP POP POP” is a refreshing addition, keeping their grime while shifting the base and letting their strong storytelling take even more focus. Dance-punk fans will love the duality of “Dancer,” as it sings and sways between its sharp riffs and blown-out choruses that intoxicate you. And just in case you needed any more push to this side of the sonic spectrum, they called on dance-rock royalty LCD Soundsystem to give that chorus a beautiful-yet-chaotic harmony that takes it into another world. Though not quite as refined or all out as some of their other recent offerings, there’s a fury and fun to “Hall & Oates,” and it’s hard not to grimace at Joe Talbot’s lyrics and screaming on this one.

Smelloship Smelloship 1

Bringing a little more grit to Ottawa’s funk-jazz scene, Smelloship deliver the goods on their latest LP. With plenty of tones that play on greats like The Meters and Herbie Hancock, this record really finds its grooves fast and lets them jam. “Raw Burden” is dripping with chunky wah lines and a sax that just keeps escalating higher and higher. The absolutely dirty drive of “Swamp Party” plays in the mud and lets the saucy vibes fly, with easily the most frantic and exciting percussion of the whole affair. There’s more pop and glossy flow to “Ol’ Cheddar,” with the sax feeling more like a vocalist this time around, keeping a light and catchy feel on the album too. “Slothful Strut” moves slower for sure, but that riff and smoky energy leave a whole funky push on the track that makes you want to get up and shake.

Molly Lewis – On The Lips
Sydney, Australia

If you haven’t experienced the serene and mesmerizing whistling of Molly Lewis, prepare to be transported to a dreamy, lounge heaven. Quite possibly her most coherent record in terms of aesthetics, this trip through her unreal talent and calming slow-jams is a treat. Though it’s a cheeky intro, it’s cool to hear Lewis actually speak for a moment in “On the Lips,” leading in her own chilling solo to make a moody start to the record. While “Lounge Lizard” takes a more soulful groove, you can hear deeper textures in Lewis’ notes, and its back-and-forth with the sax makes for a divine pairing. There’s a more epic swath of arrangements and instrumentation as a whole on “Crushed Velvet,” taking Lewis fully into a sandy psychedelia. Though the swing of “Porque Te Vas” is a great listen, the most acoustically stirring moment of the album comes in the watery washes and hazy energy of “Cocosette,” where Lewis truly lands the perfect balance between all her production and instrumentation to let her whistling become an otherworldly howl from the either.

Booster Fawn – Pour Maman EP

Able to weave between jams and emotional ballads, Booster Fawn wears their heart on their sleeve on their latest EP. Slinking and ringing out like a demented walk home in the dark, “À quoi ça sert?” can feel overwhelmingly dark at times. But just as it feels its bleakest, the roaring guitars open the track into a fiery b-section, leading the whole song to morph and evolve from there. And the more shimmering synth lines that take over the finale really push it that extra step into the stratosphere. Even the more 90s aesthetics of “Y’en aura pas d’facile” bring a morose charm to the mix, as cries to Fiona blare out. “À l’intérieur de toi, à l’intérieur de moi” has the most refined sound of the record, adding a glow and sense of wonder into the mix to let the jamming feel more cosmic and purposeful.

Paloma Faith The Glorification of Sadness
Stoke Newington, England

Through the years, Paloma Faith has slowly shifted from a powerhouse voice who had amazing collaborations, to an artist who delivers intense albums with a voice all her own. Though she’s elaborating on pop staples to make her own mark here, Faith does manage to push the envelope through her singing and other quirks in the production to keep the record from ever getting stale. The drift between crooner pop and galactic pop makes “God in a Dress” an exciting rope-a-dope of a listen, with Faith whipping between soft coos and velvet wails, and then surreal harmonies. The triumphant empowering chant on “How You Leave a Man” makes for fierce pop highs, with Faith using her intense vocal to ride the massive synths and create a breakup banger for the ages. Gospel tones let Faith play with themes of purity and being happy versus right on “Bad Woman,” and it’s this mesh of sonic and lyrical that makes the track rise from a simple ballad to an inspiring hit. When all’s said and done, there’s something that makes you want to cut loose listening to “Cry on the Dance Floor,” whether it’s the endless addictive melodies, Faith’s deeper register or the pounding bass.