Album Reviews: September 12, 2017

LCD Soundsystem – American Dream (New York City)

After breaking up for years, most people were just happy enough that LCD Soundsystem were getting back together. Following mastermind James Murphy's insistence that the band wasn't returning without purpose however, their fourth record and first since the reunion finds the band evolved and doing a bit of everything they do for what may be their finest record yet. On "Other Voices" the band takes their usual rhythmic chugs and gets intensely dark, throwing catchy melodies and line after quotable line. In the sounds of Talking Head's Remain in Light, "Change Yr Mind" takes a long and distorted roar as James Murphy truly transcends his influences, making a song that pushes the boundaries of raw abstract rock. Following the band's tradition of extended bangers with an explosive drop, "How Do You Sleep?" goes from a U2-esque drum piece filled with tension and strings to a booming dance epic as synths and drum machines scream into the song's second half. Other tracks like "I Used To," "Tonite" both give their unique evolutions on Murphy's usual extended electrnoica while "Emotional Haircut" harnesses all the band's rock tracks into one furious and fiery guitar shredder. "Call The Police" however feels like the soaring indie rock piece no one would ever expect from Murphy, as the basses run up and down and drums hiss towards a finale that's as pop as it is punk.

TAXI – Intimacy Issues (Ottawa)

Clearly taking notes from a handful of singer songwriters, TAXI mashes as much from the likes of Sara Bareilles as it does from rock bands like The Arkells. "Couch" chugs through bright piano and delicious pop hooks, as its guitars dance up and down in a pop track that's too born from tender emotion to be candy pop. Getting into darker tones that recall Fiona Apple, "Flaky Girl" is a menacing look at depression and the ways we hide it, using brash tones to colour this even more. "Intimacy Issues" takes a much more ambient and electronic approach as it falls in and out of romantic views of love to understand why we can't always accept love. Tackling more deep issues on a bright synth pop track "Sad" looks at how we can't accept our own emotions on a track that feels as triumphant as it is beaten down.

OMD  – The Punishment Of Luxury (UK)

One of the few bands around right now with 40 years behind them, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark don't stray away from what made them so fun in the first place. In this 13th release for the band they blend the latest electronic sounds with all the essence of the 80s to make a record that appeals to fans new and old. Opening on "The Punishment of Luxury," the album opens with bright and deep synth sounds, bringing in multiple decades worth of electronica. They widen up on "Isotype" bringing huge and emotive movements out of their keyboards, using only their best signatures from their past work to make this one knockout piece. "What Have We Done" offers a mixed bag with heavenly tones and satisfying percussive notes but does fall a little short with some cheesy lyrics and a slightly overdone delivery. "La Mitrailleuse" however is their real art piece of the record, delivering dark chants and ominous visions of the future, and its war-driven gun fire percussion goes from a backing track to a full-blown fight in its bridge.

The Bloom – Gas Bar (Ottawa)

Merging tones of surf and country rock into a grimy alt bliss, The Bloom make something truly unique and worth hearing. "Midnight Oil" starts the record like a theme song, as its glistening guitars ring out across a battering of excited drums. With more twang, "Black Hole Blues" brings a much darker and gloomy sound to the band as they find themselves reflecting on hard times. Taking a swinging sense of melody akin to some Mac Demarco hooks, "Hubbub" blends cool Chords with a rough country tone all over its guitars. "Diner" goes to more alt-country pop in a familiar but emotive hook as we hear the story of summer time love and how it doesn't always turn out too well.

Mogwai – Every Country's Sun (Scotland)

Merging the worlds of orchestral score music into their dynamic rock energy, the Scottish rockers of Mogwai really sum up their career on this latest release. At times a little dull or too ambient, the overall piece comes together for a record that only works as a whole piece. "Coolverine" starts the record with bright, sunny wavering tones, slowly building its sound through drums and harmonies, albeit for far too long. Switching to some dynamic pop on "Party In The Dark" they merge these lush tones into a loud rock song full of keys and huge cymbals, for a track that makes the best of both sounds. "Aka 47" makes a dark strut out as it recalls Stranger Things in its synths, for much more short but sweet track with sci-fi hints. Booming and crashing on "Battered At a Scramble" the band harness the dynamic energy of their score work and make a raw rock track that has layers and a lot deeper work going on than you would expect.