The title of Four Tet's new album refers to its two extended tracks, split into a "Morning" and "Evening" side. The release provides dueling meditations that are indeed best listened to at the time period they're ascribed. "Morning" moves with purpose on a skittering beat, but its sampled Indian singer and undulating synth tones feel like they're gently nudging you awake. As such, the 20-minute track evolves and begins piling on more geometric synth runs and string drones about halfway through, seeming to take flight as the beat slowly dials down to just a bass pulse and then nothing at all. "Evening" by comparison, begins more amorphously, unmoored without a beat, its vocal more divided, but it is no less affecting as its tones blink in and out of focus and its arrangement becomes more apparent. Given the suggestive nature of the song title, "Evening's" high-end notes call to mind the sight of stars and sound of nocturnal birds and insects, while its whooshing cymbal sound soothes. Like its predecessor, the track evolves and becomes more saturated with sound about halfway through before becoming more minimalist, its swaying synths evoking a dream state, though a heavy, thudding beat that emerges free of tones suggests nighttime hedonism or a mind-clearing erasure that comes with sleep. As a kind of concept album about how we begin and end our days, Morning/Evening is totally successful. It could be ideal for winding up or down, accompanied by yoga, meditation or quiet listening, but it also stands on its own as an intriguing pair of sound pieces that can be explored at leisure.
If you needed any convincing that Beach House is one of the best bands on the planet, their new song "Sparks" is a strong argument. Ever since their first of two masterpieces was released, 2010's Teen Dream, every new song and album by the Baltimore duo feels like an event. After announcing weeks ago that Depression Cherry, their fifth album and first since 2012's Bloom, would be released Aug. 28 on Sub Pop, we've been waiting with bated breath to hear a new song, and now we've finally got it. "Sparks" first premiered first on a Spanish radio show RTVE and has now been made available to stream via YouTube:
I keep listening to it over and over again to figure out what the hell is going on. That first blast of heavily saturated guitar and Victoria Legrand's layered vocals portend something special, which is just what we get with this gorgeous track. Legrand's organ and voice drone in perfect unison over a corroded digital beat, while Alex Scally's guitar's lay back and add small bits of texture, unleashing that volcanic noise again at select moments. Legrand's voice is more restrained than on previous singles, heavily breathy like My Bloody Valentine's Bilinda Butcher but with her same unmistakable husky tone, which comes through more clearly as the song progresses.The chorus is subtle but lovely, like Neil Young by way of Broadcast, but the best bits are the details—that skip in the beat right before the chorus, those high sliding guitar notes that sound like reverb-drenched shooting stars. It's somewhat long and amorphous but never outstays its welcome. You could listen for days and find new things to like about it.
Jaakko Eino Kalevi creates what could be called mystery pop. Like a distant Finish cousin to Ariel Pink, Kalevi’s dreamy tunes pulse with gently syncopated grooves, otherworldly synth bursts and a deeply intoning voice that gives his self-titled album a tinge of 4AD-style goth. Though Kalevi clearly has successfully digested albums by This Mortal Coil and Talk Talk, it’s also clear that he’s taken the time to develop his own sound, drawing from his moody ’80s predecessors, lacquering on some fashionably semi-ironic soft-rock sheen and hints of prog-rock and ’80s movie soundtracks, and coming out as a next-generation pop auteur with tunes as exotic as his vowel-friendly name. You might not know quite what Kalevi’s getting at, but his somewhat intangible nature is part of his appeal. The sultry “Say” and aerobic “Night at the Field” stand out from the crowd, but Jaakko Eino Kalevi is an incredibly warm and inviting listen from the top down. Curl up on Kalevi’s luxury sofa and let the magic happen.
Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21, but there are already many albums announced, including a few that are sure to be some of the biggest of the year.
Young soul singer Leon Bridges’s powerful voice and guitar licks have earned him comparisons to Sam Cooke and a viral hit with the sweetly swaying, vintage-R&B-style “Coming Home.” It’s one of those times when it looks like the hype is on point; Coming Home announces the arrival of a huge new talent.
Producer and member of The xx Jamie Smith has finallly released his debut LP, and it feels like a game-changer. Favoring melody and atmosphere over showy beatwork, In Colour is able to wrangle a wide variety of sounds into a living, breathing whole. Tracks like “Gosh” layer found sounds and field recordings underneath appealing synth lines. Mellower tracks like “Sleep Sound” and “SeeSaw” are terrific after-hours jams, like passing out outside a rave and letting the beats pulse through your dreams. The xx member Oliver Sim shows up to lend his narcotic vocals to the noirish “Stranger in a Room,” while fellow xx singer Romy Madley Croft smears black mascara all over the heartbreak beat of “Loud Places,” which makes wonderful use of a sample of Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This” on the song’s rousing chorus. Though it’s a bit jarring to hear rapper Young Thug and dancehall artist Popcaan on the following track, “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” the song itself is a worthy hip-hop crossover that enlivens the album as a whole. It may sound cheesy, but In Colour really does prove that trip-hop, post-punk, house and hip-hop can call reside under the same roof, as Smith expertly strings these sounds together into new nocturnal anthems. It’s not too soon to call this a new electronic masterwork.