Thursday, June 13, 2013
Listening Journal 06-13
Disclosure - Settle - Where a record like DJ Koze’s Amygdala is almost innately tied to questions of ‘crossover’ between the genre worlds, this thing makes one hell of an argument that none of it matters in the first place. Songs are concise (don’t waste my time letting the beat build just to stroke your ego!), melodic, and detailed from every angle. I mean, the longest track here, “Defeated No More,” is only six minutes and it’s freaking gorgeous. The whole album is littered with those 90s style chromatic synth hooks that destabilize the house/techno beats just enough to pull your ears upward and imbue the proceedings with an air of deep blue jazz cool. It’s smart but not brainy, pop but not pandering, sexy but not dirty, and bittersweet without ever dipping into melodrama. There are songs that will be hits on the first half—“F For You,” “White Noise,” “When a Fire Starts to Burn”—and songs for people who wanna keep their heads down on the dance floor on the back end. And, really, there’s not much difference between them. Disclosure give precise care and attention to every corner of their sound and they make it look as natural as breathing. 
Camera Obscura - Desire Lines - I always tended to prefer Underachievers and Let’s Get Out of This Country over My Maudlin Career. The big orchestra was a bit much for me. So yeah, this record is much more up my particular alley, with its muted, mopey wash ornamented by some really tasteful lead guitar. It does tip Campbell’s hand a little—her melodic range feels especially narrow here—but the full band arrangements have a way of dialing down your expectations too. The songs feel less grand, but they carry less of a need for grandness too. “New Year’s Resolution,” “William’s Heart,” and “Fifth in Line to The Throne” are quick favorites, and I can’t help but hear “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” in the echoes of the guitar on “I Missed Your Party.” Definitely a Camera Obscura fan’s Camera Obscura album. 
The Lonely Island - The Wack Album - The whole premise has always been to poke fun at and pay tribute to all the hip-hop tropes these guys love, but on this album they pull fewer punches. All the best tracks here—“Go Kindergarten,” “YOLO,” “Semicolon,” “Spring Break Anthem,” “We Are a Crowd,”—go after their non-comedic inspirations just a little more directly than previous Lonely Island ‘hits.’ It turns out about as well (sometimes better) than everything else they’ve done: more jokes work than don’t, and a handful of the hooks are sticky enough to make you forget you’re listening to a comedy album. LOLz.