Marissa Nadler’s latest is one of her best yet, adding a little warmth to her haunting rendition of goth-Americana. Whether she’s playing vague with evocative line, as in “Divers of the Dust” (“the waves were screaming/city streets/you look out the window to see/seven lines of stunted trees”), or singing directly, as in “Katie I Know” (“it’s hard to know when to let go/cause I can bury this heart of mine”), Nadler’s words and voice cut deep. Musically, Strangers is a blend of old and new sounds, but the mixture works. “Hungry Is the Ghost” effuses spectral beauty, with slowcore guitars and swelling cosmic sounds, balancing out a song like “Skyscraper,” which is full of spare acoustics and medieval flutes. Though the feel is wintry as per her usual style, “All the Colours of the Dark” is actually one of the sweetest sounding songs Nadler has put to tape, full of genteel fingerpicking, Southern sounding strings and layered organ and piano. Wading through the album’s melancholia, which is pleasurable in its own way, it gives way to the sighing steel guitars of the title track, as well as perhaps her best song yet, “Janie in Love,” in which her swooping, birdsong voice calls out in shudder-inducing beauty, “you’re a natural disaster, and I am watching you blow up everything, you touch and the earth will crumble.” Though bleak, Nadler’s previous albums have never been short of stunning. This time, the music offers not just commiseration but light at the end of the tunnel.
Philly hardcore dudes Nothing dive deep into the shoegaze pool on their latest. Tired of Tomorrow hits hard, with cymbals crashing into textured walls of guitar on opener “Fever Queen.” Their grounding in hardcore gives added oomph to dreamy power-pop tunes like “Vertigo Flowers.” Songs like “A.C.D.” and “Curse of the Sun” recall the best of heavy ’90s alt-rock (pre nu-metal), reminiscent of bands like Helmet and Smashing Pumpkins. Nothing are very indebted in particular to Slowdive and Chapterhouse, but they’re in on the joke — one song is even called “Nineteen Ninety Heaven.” And with touches of violin and piano on ballads like “Everyone Is Happy,” or the Morricone riff and desert sway of “The Dead Are Dumb,” Nothing’s second album is varied and balanced. While some bands remain allergic to distortion since the ’90s, Tired of Tomorrow is a big, fuzzy embrace of distorted anthems.
Just as the artist formerly known as Antony has chosen to go by the name ANOHNI in her personal and professional life, Hopelessness, her debut sans the Johnsons, dramatically refashions the artist’s sound world. With production by Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke, ANOHNI takes her socially conscious lyrics to the world of experimental synth-pop. Read more here.
On her bold new album, Beyonce takes on the image of the wounded lover and owns it while continuing to make heartfelt, intelligent pop music of the highest order. As her previous, self-titled album was a vibrant ode to fidelity, Lemonade represents the other side of relationships. Read more here.
Brian Eno’s latest album combines the minimalist approach to his ambient work such as Music for Airports with the intrigue of his more pop-oriented work. On opening track “The Ship,” individual tones, thick, thin, solid and wavering create a transfixing horizontal drone. Vocals enter after a few minutes, deeply intoning strange truisms behind some swan-diving notes and radio noise that sound like a TV left on in another room. “The time is still, the sky is young,” the voice says, and the music feels eternal while the found sound of advertisements feels ephemeral. Through its contemplative, extended tracks, The Ship is a little unsettling but ultimately gives a sense of peace, a reminder of our short time on a greater vessel that sets us free from our preoccupations. Includes a gorgeous cover of The Velvet Underground’s “I’m Set Free.”
Blind Spot, the new EP from reunited shoegazers Lush, cherry picks the best sounds of the band’s three studio albums without feeling like too much of a rehash, leaning toward the sound of their earlier, stronger material. On mid-tempo opener “Out of Control,” singer/guitarist Miki Berenyi’s voice still pairs uncannily with fellow singer/guitarist Emma Anderson. Jangly guitars casually spiral over the ebbing pulse provided by bassist Justin King and former Elastica drummer Justin Welch. Read more here.
Andy Stott’s latest builds on his grayscale dub soundscapes with more movement and pulse, the result being songs that are full-bodied and often unpredictable, with synth-funk touches and disembodied soul vocals. Full of woozy sexuality and luxurious dread. Read more here.