Album Reviews: June 11, 2018

Halo Maud – Je Suis Une Île (France)

After her previous work with Melody's Echo Chamber, Maud Nadal has crafted her own music that fits the bill while also standing perfectly unique of anything that's come before it. With a masterful use of tone and addictive melodies, this album mixes French pop and psych rock into something new and powerful. From the opening track "Wherever" Nadal's vocals fly with a loose energy as her chugging beats hold down the otherwise trippy song. "Du Pouvoir/Power" adds a chipper energy to things, as Nadal focuses in on her sharp textures while rotating languages as she goes. Nadal explores her sound even further on "Surprise" where a sense of consistency develops for the album while she plays with ambiance. "Proche Proche Proche" takes the most electronic approahc of the whole record while hitting some sonic highs that totally blow the rest of the record out of the water.

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Teenage Fiction – Dreamers (Ottawa)

Despite their hard-rocking energy, Teenage Fiction really bring out a range of sounds in their music, blending grunge, modern rock and even tones of Oasis into their strong material. In just five short songs, the band really display enough ideas for an entire album. Through the hazy riffs of "Candy Flip" Teenage Fiction not only set a powerful mood for their story but also let loose a mounting set of monster riffs. As they lean into their rock power on "Back In Town" they sneak in more subtle tones to make their jagged riffs and poetic lyrics feel stronger. The nostalgic feelings that surround "Opposite Ways" give the strong a palpable emotional context and have its choruses feeling all the more memorable for it. As the album rounds out on "Wish You Were Home" however, it's simple and loud, but just missing a bit of the complexity that makes most of the album so intriguing.

Kadhja Bonet – Childqueen (Los Angeles)

Some artists can blend genres and influence o subtly and cleverly that their own sound defies comparison. For her powerful new release, Kadhja Bonet blends decades of R&B pop together into something that becomes timeless as a result. Despite the loud beats that run through "Procession" there's an unhinged rhythm to it that makes you want to dance as much as you'll be caught up in the song's inherent majesty. Bonet sinks into her grooves on "Childqueen" as her orchestrations hit a massive high and her ability to arrange the more typical instrumentation in continuously interesting ways keeps the track fresh. She strips a lot of this away on "Delphine" where her beautiful sound work shines on the spotlighting writing for a track that takes its time. At her pop peak, Bonet also brings jazzy vocals to "Mother Maybe" while dense harmonies and subtle background noise makes for a track that gets better on every listen.

The Monotymes – LOVE SICK (Ottawa)

With a brash punk energy drowned in reverb, it's easy to get lost in "Honey Baby" and just take its familiar structures as an addictive hook. "Luca" bears a wonderful mix of sad and euphoric hooks that give each chorus a contrasting energy to make you want to hear it again. Through "Caught n' Candy" the mesmerizing riffs dance around the grimy guitars to show the Monotymes' ability to bring things down for a moment. Drawn out as it may be "Embers and Ash" carries a deep playfulness in its writing that finds the band members slowly reinventing the song's core as they go to make the ending a fiery hurricane of melodies.

Lump –Lump (London)

Whether you're already a fan of Laura Marling or Mike LIndsay, this long overdue collaboration taps into the strongest qualities of both artists without overindulging. Though this is definitely an experimental record, the places the duo take their music is never inaccessible. As "Late To The Flight" slowly grows into its harmonious beauty, it takes a meditative crawl to make it's finale feel huge and shocking. The endless riffing of "May I Be The Light" slowly allows Marling's vocals to become this building tension within the track while Lindsay's production gives the track a dynamic tone. They dive into a menacing rock drive on "Curse Of The Contemporary" as tones of Jefferson Airplane and creepy rounds bring them forward and backwards in time. A little hip hop infects the record as well on "Hand Hold Hero" where the duo make for a harsh and frightening sound to make their killer narrative stand out.