Album Reviews: Tyler, The Creator, Doja Cat, Gaspard Augé

Tyler, The Creator — Call Me If You Get Lost (Ladera Heights, CA)

After the chaotic, art-pop, start-to-finish flow of IGOR, Tyler the Creator's latest record feels more like an unpredictable pop collection that has its best moment in single songs rather than as an entire unit. Though this amounts to radio tuning between old Tyler songs, radio-ready pop, and his more recent material, Tyler's approach to his music is still refreshing. Plus its initially less straightforward cohesion may end up giving it a longevity for listeners. There's a dense anxiety to "Lumberjack" that Tyler thrives in, as his gravelly voice cuts through with power, and the darkness in his storytelling feels all too welcome here. All the genre-fusing, rotating sounds from recent records come in fresh on "Sweet/I Thought You Wanted To Dance" as Tyler's suave grooves and falsetto open into a Latin-fuelled beat, and some truly furious vocal riffing. The most ecstatic mix of ideas comes out on "Juggernaut" as Tyler and Pharrell deliver at their most weird and abrasive, and trade equally punchy verses. The synths and retro sounding instrumentation shine bright on "Safari," to take the whole thing out on a great triumphant energy that could easily score Tyler's tour entrances for this album.

Reno McCarthy — Nightout (Single) (Montreal)

With a cool dance groove and a ghostly vocal style, "Nightout" is a creeping and suave listen filled with a cool energy. Touching on elements of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, the track takes a disco root and makes it feel demented. There's equally a lot of great psychedelic washes to the choruses and the verses as a whole as the song goes on, really letting each repeat listen offer you a few more details. The wailing and wall-of-noise in the back-end is also a welcome shift to the track, as it grows into an untameable beast. McCarthy repeatedly brings it back to its simple but fun bass hook though, really emphasizing the one-on-one qualities in its bones.

Doja Cat — Planet Her (Los Angeles)

Along with her last two records, Doja Cat's singles have been a true highlight of her output, until now. Through a great mix of infectious grooves and a deeply intimate vocal recording, this record ranges from pop bangers to bass-driven, hip-moving tracks that feel wonderfully sultry. Though the album already starts strong, "Naked" brings a great Kali Uchis flavour here, with Doja's own rasp and lean into deep bass to make a great track. "Need To Know" is so overtly sexually charged, it can be equally funny and refreshing in how far it's willing to go just to be honest, and the musical way Doja twists it with the production and her own inflection is great to hear. The bounce to "Imagine" lets Doja and the weird mix of sound samples and warped strings just drive her vocals forward. Needless to say the instantly addictive qualities of "Kiss Me More" round out the whole album on a warm and fun note, with its deluge of hooks, subtle production additions and Doja's lyrical cheekiness elevating the track to something utterly unforgettable with SZA.  

Rêve — Still Dancing (Single) (Toronto/Montreal)

With a stellar vocal and radio-ready production, Rêve delivers an intoxicating dance track on her latest single. Though much of the verses play with a more classic buildup, there's a great power to the choruses here, as a filtered-out sound gives the song a watery and otherworldly quality that you really don't actually hear in many dance-track drops. Even the pianos get a similar treatment in later choruses, as they are soloed out for another moment of tension. So many small elements are turned into punchy and memorable drop moments that it takes what is familiar about the song and uses it to do highlight aspects many of her peers don't.

Gaspard Augé — Escapades (Paris, France)

Through a long career with Justice Gaspard Augé has made a wonderful retro, dance DJ sound with virtually immaculate records. On his own the sound goes more pure synth and soundscape, while capturing a great instrumental record charm that doesn't always fit Justice's work as well. There's an exhilarating grandeur right out the gate on "Force Majeure" with the synths booming with a the power of pyrotechnics and the bass giving a muscle car edge to strong disco overtones. The thematic charge of "Pentacle" grows more and more exciting, and peaks in a devastating climax where the keyboard lines and dissonant voices swirl in a religious high. The rush of "Hey!" mixes both the record's Lazerhawk-like fun and the orchestral beauty of Augé's vision, and a little pop, to make a track that just feels like a shot of adrenaline. Even "Captain" feels like a fun counterpoint to other Augé work that is full of enticing grooves, and melodies that can part goofy, theatrical and dance heaven all at once.