Weekly Capsule Reviews – 27/11/2016

starboy

This week: Justice, ELLLL, Bruno Mars, The Weeknd, Foreign Fields


Justice – Woman (18/11/2016 – Ed Banger Records/Because Music)

I’m not fooled by this Europhile-disco conglomerate, but I didn’t say I didn’t like it. I mean if the Chic and Isaac Hayes lovers (if Hayes was a bit quicker in his delivery) want to relive, or indeed thrust upon their children/grandchildren, what their days of yore were like this might cut it. Just tell the kids to ignore the computerised drum beats, the computer-enhanced vocals, the computerised computers, and all the MIDI computer bits. There’s something in there, though—Bananarama-like vocals and post-[post-]disco. (8/10)


ELLLL – Romance (14/11/2016 – Art for Blind Records) – (EP)

I always struggle to envisage where techno can now go once an artist releases something of some note. I’m talking in terms of pure evolution. Like, where can this go from here? But I do enjoy ELLLL’s mystique. The title-track opener has something of a North-African feel, like traversing through the dusty streets of Marrakesh. Slowly, though. It’s very dusty. Check out her Boiler Room live set from earlier this year. A little more pep in her step needed, maybe? (7/10)


Bruno Mars – 24K Magic (18/11/2016 – Atlantic Records)

Mars’ move from pop gimp to soul pimp wasn’t quite as obvious before the Retromania-funk of “Uptown Funk”. But since that injection from Mark Ronson’s know-it-all stature in the sphere of a decent record collection and a pop formula to woo the masses, we’ve seen a shift that’s worth adorning past the realms of Mars’ pop form. I think this guy [nearly] has as much soul as the soulsters. Michael Kiwanuka is combatting the world with authenticity. Bruno Mars is combatting the world with carbon-copy, diluted machismo. I think I know who’s going to win. (7/10)


The Weeknd – Starboy (25/11/2016 – XO/Republic Records)

I’ve come around—I can now genuinely feel and take in a record by this guy wherein he acknowledges his influences which didn’t make him but he feels obliged to thank anyway. Good show, even if every Tom, Dick, and Harry is doing it this decade (or since “popular culture” became a thing, for that matter). Tesfaye seemed to take his fame hard—even if defiant in the “Wicked Games” days—be it in the bedroom or the recording studio. But now he views sex as “pleasurable” physical exertion over something that’s mandatory to simply keep up appearances. He’s earned that and it legitimises his slick transformation into the nice-guy exterior when he’s looking for a good time. In fact it took until track sixteen for an upfront-obvious, demeaning, and sexually-objectifying statement aimed at his female counterparts to rear its inevitable head. But let’s give credit where credit’s due, it comes from Future. Nice of you, Abel. “Like I’m James Dean, I’mma die when I’m young”—I wouldn’t have believed it until he said he’d trade it all in for a halo. And y’know what? He seems more settled on Starboy searching for his stargirl with his head—potentially—adorned below a new shiny halo. If he keeps this up he may find her. And she may stick around. Until the next album. (7/10)


Foreign Fields – Take Cover (28/10/2016 – Caroline International/Universal Music)

I like my pseudo-spiritualists with some bite. None here whatsoever. Jack Johnson meets Thom Yorke meets Daughter. Actually, come to think of it, it’s just Daughter. Of course the astronaut reference validates their pretensions. Of course. (5/10)


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