Album Reviews: Spirit of the Beehive, Brockhampton and Paul McCartney Remixes

Spirit of the Beehive — Entertainment, Death  (Philadelphia, PA)

Experimental music can sometimes feel like it explores more than it evaluates, and Spirit of the Beehive find a way to make their explorations feel worthwhile. With the right balance of unusual soundscapes and pounding rock moments, this is a record that takes you on a journey and also lets you cut loose. Following a cosmic set of radio-station-like changes, the more subdued of guitars of "Entertainment" harness all its spacey and soothing tones into a beautiful, yet noisy collage. It flows so natually into "There's Nothing You Can't Do" that you only might notice due to the more neon-tinged vocals, and it's dance-infused drum breaks that really take the song into a fun, and grimy territory. With a 90s melancholic rock approach, "Give Up Your Life" lets its synths and warped production modernize the song, landing somewhere between Unknown Mortal Orchestra and the Avalanches. Even the more pop approach of "The Server Is Immersed" lets the whole spectrum of sonic light come through for a soaring and transcendant listen with so many lush elements and hooks to delight you.

Renée Landry  Best Wishes (Single) (Sault Ste. Marie/Ottawa)

With a massive voice and the abiliity to drive it further and further with her music, Renée Landry lets it all out on "Best Wishes." The starry synths leave the opening of the track a sad and meditative listen, it grows with gusto as the second chorus sweeps in. The whole feeling of Landry's delivery gets more aggressive and vicious, with the instrumentation taking on a dangerous distortion as well. Where early on the song does hold on its singular feelings almost too long, this pays off like fireworks as the drums explode in its finale, with its snowballing of emotion finally at its peak.  It's utterly satisfying and lets Landry show off the range of her vocal talents, as well as how she can evolve her writing.

Brockhampton — Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine (San Marcos, TX/Los Angeles)

Unpredictable and full of amazing musical moments on any record, Brockhampton continue to morph their music into something impressive. For those that want in-your-face music with depth, Brockhampton haven't lost an ounce of steam. Whether it's the fury of the siren-like hook on "Buzzcut" or Danny Brown's delivery, nothing seems to slow down the flow on this track, and its swap tonally still manages to work without dragging things down. Though "Bankroll" sounds much less standout, the trading lines between the band, and A$AP Rocky & A$AP Ferg prove to be such a fun listening experience you'll still want to dive in. The sax and punch of the beat on "Windows" is a much more delicious experience, as they find a sound truly exotic and dirty, all in one. In the much brighter feel of "When I Ball" the group find another one of their pop gems, with such a rich set of harmonies that it's starting to be a shock they haven't split their sounds into fully fleshed-out records all their own.

Ormiston — Step from the Limelight (Single) (Montreal)

With touches of a mid-2000s pop singer and a very Kevin Parker/Tame Impala hook sensibility, Ormiston is bringing retro glory to its apex on this single. Each keyboard sound has a sense of light and dark in it, letting the track really cut through from a simple throwback. The vocals come out so smoothly, and play into the track's own aesthetic with soaring high. Ormiston's chorus drop so triumphantly, you just want to blast this track and get lost in the synths. It's the chord choices here that communicate a much more hopeful sentiment that feel the most unique to Ormiston in a sea of vintage-inspired synth-pop-rock, and it will be wonderful to see how they take it forward on their full album.

Paul McCartney — McCartney III Imagined (Liverpool, U.K.)

While McCartney III was already one of Paul's most interesting records in years, the crew he's let loose on this companion record, shape it into something wondrous and full. The all-star cast between St. Vincent, Blood Orange, Damon Albarn, Anderson .Paak and Joshua Homme is tempting enough, but it's magical how well it enhances songs on this record. And it proves McCartney's core strength as a songwriter over everything. With Khruangbin's grooves and shimmering guitars at play, "Pretty Boys" becomes a scratching club banger, and one that feels succinct in its motivation. Blood Orange's reversing and personal harmonic touches on "Deep Down" actually tap into a lot of old Beatles tendencies, and create a hectic alternate take of the song. Between old Queens of the Stone Age and RAM-era McCartney, "Lavatory Lil" is all the dirtier and distorted with Joshua Homme, and the fun smoky vocal notes are just a great melding of their two styles. It's honestly one QOTSA shredding outro away from perfection. .Paak brings a smooth flow out of "When Winter Comes" and lets the drums come out, with the song feeling strangely jazzy as a result. It's the most unexpected track here in terms of song + collaborator = final product, and the record is all the cooler for it.