Album Reviews: October 23, 2017

Beck – Colors  (Los Angeles)

No one consistently surprises listeners quite like Beck has been able to do across his 20 years in the business. Going back to overt pop on his latest release Beck blends equal parts dance and utterly weird for a record that delightfully bizarre. "Colors" sweeps the album open with pounding bass, letting Beck's vocal melodies fly over the dense synth production. The piano takes over for a big pop-drive on "Dear Life" for one of the deeper songs on the album, full of rich mini-solos that make the song ooze life. Emulating a little bit of Bruno Mars on "No Distraction" the grooves go deep to make a dance track that really pops. One song that most perfectly encapsulates Beck's old-school pop eccentricities is "Wow," where Beck entrances listeners with bizarre production and aggressive vocals while smoothing it all out in the pop writing.

The Guilty Minds – Natural Selections (Ottawa)

Optimistic and driven, The Guilty Minds' latest release is a peppy but personal record that knows exactly what it is. Through bright guitars and excited performances, it's a light and fun album. Through bright tones and a rolling drum-line, "I'm All Yours" runs fast and wholesome with its vocal delivery as it offers up pure love with a relentless speed. Shifting the rhythms to a more funk-drive, "Where I Belong" widens its sound through huge organs as the song speaks to issues of identity. With tones of Bryan Adams, "Hard Liberty" speaks to working hard for what you want in life, as the guitars grind to pop-infused distortion. "Out of my Mind" chugs with a throttling rhythm as their quirky sense of vocal rhythms keep the song bouncing throughout.

King Krule  – The Ooz (England)

King Krule has been turning heads with his bizarre mix of jazz, rock and rap for the past couple years, made all the more impressive considering he was already in the industry before he was even 20. A little older on his third record, Archy Marshall (aka King Krule) releases a massive record with consistent potency that only feels a tad long in places. Jumping right into the club tones of the record, "Biscuit Town" opens it with jerking guitars and creeping move that feels all too much like David Lynch. "Dum Surfer" takes the harsh jazz sounds even further, mixing them into some hard surf rock and reverb for a song that's the best of both worlds. There's a closeness to "Logos" that contrasts with the album's quirks very well, making it's more honest and personal touches stand out. Building in the distortion slowly on "Emergency Blimp" Marshall slowly twists in alt-rock overtones while dirtying up the actual chords to make them his own.

Dark Vayda – Syzygy  (Ottawa)

Always bringing something knew from their creative depths, there's an exotic fire to this latest release from Dark Vayda, made even more exciting by its pop vocalists. Expanding the already great music, this record feels like Dark Vayda could be this close to their moment in the industry. "Hide (eat. Stephanie Kay)" starts the album with booming electronic production, as Kay's vocals flow like cream on top, and the chip-tune style explosions just make it all the more exciting. Taking a more smoky approach on "Daydream (feat. Elixir)" there's a warped sense of hip hop as the song zips back and forth between loud choruses and hazy verses. Bringing the dance tones in sharply, "Getcha' Funk On" hits the beats hard, with glistening pianos and a running bass that would make Daft Punk smirk. "Your Heart At Mind (feat. Ashley Apollodor) closes the release

Wu-Tang Clan – The Saga Continues (New York City)

With so many creative minds in the mix, Wu-Tang Clan continues to be one of those groups that strike some amazing gold together, even as their solo projects grow more and more. For their new record produced by long-time collaborator (and Wu-Tang logo designer) Mathematics, they blend in their classic skits with some heavy messages and resurrect some old equipment for a record with some amazing sounds. Rapping over sombre tones, "Lesson Learn'd" Inspectah Deck lets his dynamic and clever lyricism fly, even making a snide reference to the band's deal with Martin Shkreli. "Famous Fighters" merges tons of kung-fu sound clips together to make a potent interlude in the kooky style the band's  always done well. Merging sample and rap on "People Say," Redman goes dark and personal for troubling childhood stories, with a soulful backing track that is devastating to hear over and over. "Why, Why, Why" takes in the album's messages of taking on issues in the African-American community, summarizing the current state of affairs with a depressed vocal hook, as the lyrics tackle polic prejudice.