Dry Cleaning Get Weird Yet More Accessible as They Evolve
Arctic Monkeys – The Car (Sheffield, U.K.)
Shedding a more overtly wondrous concept album focus to make more crooner-focused, lounge-rock outside of that, Arctic Monkeys focus on what they want first with their new album. Whatever your feelings are on this end of their sound right now, Alex Turner’s eternal qualities to paint with his lyricism and very specific vocal delivery is still at its sharpest here. Ultimately, this will be for a select group of their fans, but it’s wholly committed to its club singer aesthetic to that end. With a touch of Leonard Cohen and Bowie, “There’d Better Be a Mirrorball” opens the whole record with a sense of grandeur, smoky cool and subdued malaise, with the band riding the groove like they’ve been doing lounge music for decades. They shift to a dark and spacey rock on “Sculptures of Anything Goes,” creating a mysterious haze of a track, simmering in a humid sonic space. Their downbeat sound gets a little Queen in its melodies and punches on “Body Paint”, but it’s beautifully classy with Arctic Monkeys riding the strings right into the big rock explosions of its back half. Almost more like one of Turner’s old solo tracks, “Mr. Schwartz” gets a nice, downbeat shuffle, softly offering a seductive charm in its beats and floaty string lines.
Sun Freezing Cold – Got Me Hypnotized (Single) (Montréal)
Montreal’s Sun Freezing Cold tackle the vampire myth with a jazzy swing on “Got Me Hypnotized.” The brass comes out swinging, and the guitar is endlessly jangly in this song’s dance, with synths growing from moody to eerie theremin-like sounds the further things go. The sense of shadowy danger also adds a weighty spirit to the track, with a brooding tone of the macabre seemingly lurking on the peripheries. The bridge exemplifies the best of the track’s heavy core, though it almost feels like it cuts to this kind of space a little too rarely. Nevertheless, the track immerses you into its terrified world and creates a space to lose yourself in it as a result.
Dry Cleaning – Stumpwork (London, U.K.)
One of the most singular bands of the moment, Dry Cleaning manage to get weird yet more accessible as they evolve. Bringing a newfound warmth, and light melodic push to the mix, the band adds in the feeling of pop without ever feeling like they compromise their core spirit as a band. Despite its sparse openings, “Anna Calls from the Arctic” bursts into this rhythmic dance of sax, hums and cold synths that perfectly lay the groundwork for Florence Shaw’s voice to play. Like a sunny Joy Division song that almost seems to evolve “Scratchcard Lanyard,” “Gary Ashby” is full of driving soul and a vibrant, shimmering guitar tone. The jaunty percussion and 90s tones of “Stumpwork” are a fun break, letting the band’s usual clashing focus keep the song constantly tense as it seems to push and pull itself from that chaos. The whistles and Shaw’s shifting delivery keep “Don’t Press Me” a constantly unpredictable beast, with it shifting between their grime, 90s rock and even Fazerdaze-esque energy at times.
The Sweet Kill – Darkness (Single) (Vancouver/Los Angeles)
After a very theatrical intro, The Sweet Kill heads into a neon and mud sprint on “Darkness.” There’s so much mountainous energy and reverb in all the verses, really throwing the whole scope of The Sweet Kill’s feeling into focus. It’s that rushing break in every chorus though that really sends the song flying however, mixing 70s alternative, 2000s hits and a little bit of unique metal mixing into one spooky glaze. The Sweet Kill crafts fright and momentum into a fiery song perfect for October.
Carly Rae Jepsen – The Loneliest Time (Mission, British Columbia)
Since her debut, Carly Rae Jepsen has slowly evolved her lyrics to become an evergreen top 40 artist musically who is lyrically becoming refreshingly more and more mature. Mixing a bit of rustic tone, disco, and her usual mish mash of pop sounds, this is a mostly expected record with some great steps forward for her overall. “Sideways” is dreamy pop heaven, with the bass feeling fat and vocals silky, and Jepsen’s vocal arrangements hitting that special chord she’s snuck into a lot of songs just so well. While feeling separate from the record itself, “Beach House” delivers a menacingly spiraling pop hit, with some of Jepsen’s funniest lyrics and such an unusual hook that it is easily memorable from the get. The airy qualities don’t stop at the lyrics on “Western Wind” as every instrument and voice feel pulled by a breeze, and Jepsen’s sense of awe truly breathing a deep calm into the catchy hooks. The 80s emulation is satisfying and lush on “Shooting Star,” taking what could be a boring pastiche and baking it with so much fun, detail and weird effects that it’s clear Jepsen is starting to play a lot looser with what exactly her sound even is anymore.