MØ lands in a more cathartic place on her latest record
MØ – Motordrome (Ubberud, Denmark)
Between her radio-ready singles, indie album debut and a pop record, MØ seems to land in a more cathartic place on her latest record. While several songs here touch on the beats of her first record with her newer production, the record is at its best on the songs that go full pop or melancholy. There’s an ABBA-like dark dance-pop vibe to “Live to Survive” as a full disco-fuelled banger rings out with pounding bass, and MØ’s signature raspy hooks and a lot of messaging about picking up the pieces over and over again. Each verse of “New Moon” is like hitting the dance floor on that perfect drop, with smoke around you, and Karen Andersen gives you so many amazing vocal melodies to help you get lost in the music (particularly in that final chorus). There’s a dire energy to “Goosebumps” that feels like mourning and celebration all in one, and that’s what makes the crackling in her voice so powerful here. The biggest call back to No Mythologies to Follow comes on “Punches” with its blown-out guitar lines and all those “oo” harmonies, but it’s the “brand new day” melody and Andersen’s ambitious vocal reaches that really make the song work.
Huguette Lavigne – I’ll Make You Happy (Single) (Ottawa)
With a rush of rollicking pianos, Huguette Lavigne delivers an uplifting instrumental ballad on “I’ll Make You Happy.” The Ottawa-native’s free-flowing style seemingly chapters different phases of a romance in the few times it stops, and leaves you to ride through the bright and dark times. Every line snowballs until it feels like you’re hearing a collage of memories all fall into one, and the morose energy of some lines tells us this might not always be for the better. The glowing qualities of her performances however leave us dazzled, and hoping Lavigne’s story isn’t quite as dark as some moments on this track.
Black Country, New Road – Ants from Up There (Cambridgeshire, U.K.)
While they had brought a great sense of chaos, jazz and punk all at once before, Black Country, New Road seem to have fine-tuned something to make this latest record that much better. Between a mix of Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire overtones, Isaac Wood’s final recording with the band is one hell of a swan song for him to leave on. The overall theatricality elevates the punk-orchestral sounds of “Chaos Space Marine” leaving you caught up in a sense of euphoria and panic simultaneously in its beautiful chorus. “Concorde” definitely meditates on a very uneasy emotion, hoping for another moment of solace, and in its final roar of sax, ripping guitars and booming drums it seems to find that, or at least a sense of release from a lot of pain. There’s a wild clash between keys and strings on “Good Will Hunting” that keeps the tension high, but in the chug of its many verses, there’s a more visceral movement the band finds that drives the song forward. Fascinatingly, the group also achieves a score-like turn on “Mark’s Theme,” as they embrace a more classical edge, and leave you to find a story to match its melodic wonder.
Sadie Jean – WYD Now? (Single) (New York City)
The introspection of modern early-adulthood seems darker than ever, but Sadie Jean tries to make sense of it here. With brooding energy in the chords and beats of the track, “WYD Now?” presents an anxiety-ridden portraits of moving forward. The slow-drip of the story here reveals how tragic the loss of love here was, while also feeling as much about relationships as the growing pains of your 20s. There’s also a haunting tone to just how abruptly the song ends, as it seems to leave you without a glimmer of hope, showing Jean is willing to serve her writing and not just what might be most accessible.
Cate Le Bon – Pompeii (Penboyr, Wales)
As she continues to drift between indie art-rock and full-blown experimental musings, Cate Le Bon excels at finding a distinct palette to paint each album of hers in. Though certainly more niche than ever in parts here, the way she fuses her harsher edges into a catchy core make for unforgettable pop. This is how the abstract floating of “Dirt on the Bed” lets the groovier momentum of “Moderation” take all its strong and defined colours, and create a club-like haze for you to dance, wonder and truly slink into with the same ghostly energy that Le Bon does. The neon tones and sax sway are wrenched up to 11 on “French Boys” for a more saucy track, with Le Bon letting the whole thing drift between dreamy and flashy. Though a slow-burn, “Harbour” simmers with a longing for lost moments, and the way echoing of Le Bon’s voice is truly haunting on this track. Mug Museum-era Le Bon collides with this warped-smoky tone on “Remembering Me” for angular riffs, high-hitting harmonies and a sense of weird Bowie-esque soul with a touch of unease lurking just around the corner.