TV on the Radio – Dear Science,
A decent effort, with some transcendent moments, but producer Dave Sitek infrequently over-complicates things with his studio hocus pocus, and loses sight of the best touches. So we get 8-bit noise in the background rather than up front, where it belongs. Overall, not an improvement on Return to Cookie Mountain, but what records are? (ps: their debut full-length remains an overrated dud). Like REM, TV on the Radio’s big record on a major will come after their first big record on a major (this is on Interpoop). Expect critics to ruin their computer chairs for Dear Science, anyway, and call it the album of the year. They’ll be wrong, because the next three albums are better:
Deerhoof –Offend Maggie
Directly referencing classic rock from the opening chords of “The Tears of Music and Love,” Deerhoof fly on their usual batshit wings of psychedelic but guitar-smart freakouts. Best drummer working, too (Don’t believe me? Here). Much will be made of this album’s “accessibility,” but that’s like saying the Boredoms will be played on clear channel someday. Or that Os Mutantes is the next Led Zeppelin (although Deerhoof is the next Led Mutantes). I’d also like to say that the title track takes me places. Ahhhhhh …
Gang Gang Dance – Saint Dympha
Lazy Critic says: Like Kate Bush fronting the Pop Group. From warped pop transmissions like something caught on a Cairo radio past midnight, to spacedub complete with toasting, you could either say Saint D is uneven, all over the map, or the most exciting freakout since the Boredoms’ debut (did I just reference God twice?). I would say the later and refuse to argue, cause I’m like that.
The best of two or three newish bands approaching the guitar as their primary sound, The Drones increasingly become Gareth Liddiard and Whoever Else with the recent dumping and replacing of one (or two?) original members. Doesn’t matter. While their last album won’t be topped, not even by them, Havilah includes more wandering guitar crescendos and Liddiard’s phenomenal lyricism. Perth might be an exciting place for music right now. Or was it always?
Of Montreal —Skeletal Lamping
Did I suffer a hoax leak, or has Barnes lost his mind and begun crafting songs intentionally packed with so many differing tempos and sounds as to be nearly impossible to enjoy? I have loved him for his nut-job lyrics, but here, just to quell laughter, I had to imagine I was listening to Prince if Prince wrote what he was really thinking around 1987: Barnes cooing over “black she-males” or a chorus like “we can do if soft-core/ but you should know I go both ways. “
Ladyhawke – s/t
Total retro candy. Top forty pop music from 1983-1987 was perfect for few people other than seventh graders (with maybe the exception of Prince when dirty-minded, although that was the summer I … never mind). Ladyhawke hits the adolescent bulls-eye, often too sharply. She sometimes utilizes often that American west coast 80s sound; walking bass-lines and desert-drive synths and choppy processed guitars. “Oh My” channels Fleetwood Mac circa 1982. “Paris is Buring” well deserves to be the it-dance hit-ripe-for-remix of the past few months, even if I need a shower after loving it. But there’s something laudable in the completeness of Pip Ladyhawke’s act, as in: if your production values reek of synths from Van Halen’s 1984 or M’s Pop Musik, why the hell not sing a chorus like “you set me on fire” or “Love Don’t Live Here?” She also knows that the studio skills needed for this sort of ventriloquism (not to mention the songwriting skills, and hers are decent, in a top forty sense) provide her with a large palette for future and less prosaic excursions. For now, I could use less Missing Persons and more Eurythmics. But I can’t help thinking: is this when the Fixx renaissance begins? And would that be so awful?
Fujiya & Miyagi – Lightbulbs
Album: Soph release. Career: one album too many.
The Clientele – That Night, A Forest Grew EP
Clientele should release a new album or EP every year sometime between August 30 and September 21 so we can listen to it all Autumn long.
Bloc Party – Intimacy
They can’t possibly be getting along. The lead single it truly great, but the rest may as well have been b-sides left uncollected. Not so easy to be U2, is it guys?