Sep 2017

NOW (CD)

It's incredible to think that Shania Twain has been away for fifteen years. She was a mega celebrity in the '90s and was one of the major country stars (along with Garth Brooks) that successfully crossed over onto the pop charts with her seemingly inescapable hits. But the last decade-and-a-half hasn't been the kindest to her professionally or personally. Aside from some drastic life changes, including a divorce from her former writing partner, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, she also was suffering from dysphonia and Lyme disease, which nearly took away her famous voice. But after some soul searching and physical recovery, she's back to conquer the charts again with her new album, NOW. Though her voice has changed a little bit since her early days, it's still recognizably Shania Twain and she uses her powerful country twang with songs that now play around with modern pop production. Listening to "Life's About To Get Good," you wouldn't know there had been anything wrong this last decade-and-a-half. It's an absolutely joyous pop ballad that is a perfect celebration of life. The layers of happy sounds and bright-eyed optimism in her lyrics create a song that feels like the musical embodiment of happiness. It's hard not to listen to her life-affirming lyrics and smile to the melody. Shania Twain is back without fumbling for one second. NOW is a musical ray of sunshine for your cloudy day and captures how great life can really be.

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Silver Eye (LP)

Goldfrapp’s Silver Eye is a refreshing return to the icy cool, ‘80s inspired synth pop sound the duo perfected on Supernature and Black Cherry. The record is cinematic, glamorous, and darkly romantic — in short, it’s everything you want a Goldfrapp record to be. “Anymore” is a propulsive paean to love and lust, “Systemagic” fits right into the currently ultra cool industrial scene, and “Ocean” is a sweeping, introspective, and haunting closer. Listeners will want to get lost in this moody disco dream.

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Music Complete (LP)

Against all odds, new-wave greats New Order have returned for a 10th studio album that lives up to the band’s formidable past. From the first notes of shimmering first single “Restless,” it’s clear we’re dealing with the classic New Order sound, as the band returns to the more electronic (and current, frankly) sound of their late-’80s and early-’90s work. The way “Singularity” builds from moody Joy Division-esque post-punk into danceable hi-NRG synths will have fans thanking the heavens for the return of original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert. “Plastic” introduces some retro house synths (but at this point, what is retro anyway, as this sound still gets floated around everywhere) and adds some gleefully silly lyrics (“It’s official, you’re fantastic” goes the refrain). “Tutti Frutti’s” glittering synths combine nicely with Bernard Sumner’s weary vocals in a style reminiscent of one of their greatest hits, “True Faith.” The track’s killer disco bassline more than proves Tom Chapman’s mettle (in the absence of original bassist Peter Hook), which continues into the housey “People on the High Line.” A few guest appearances add to the proceedings—Iggy Pop delivers a Tom Waits-ish spoken word over the coldwave beat of “Stray Dog,” and La Roux’s Elly Jackson adds vibrant backup vocals to several tracks. By focusing on consistency, the band doesn’t come off like it’s trying too hard on Music Complete. Instead, the album exists perfectly within the band’s legendary catalog.

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