Weekly Capsule Reviews: 12/02/2017


This week: Sampha, Big Sean

Older releases: We Cut Corners

Sampha: Process [Young Turks, 03/02/2017]

Y’know, I initially made the mistake going into Process the minute I heard of his stuff making comparisons to the other glitchy, emotional Brits such as James Blake, and I sort of semi-dismissed it for being an emulation of that. And other critics have pointed this out, too. And I continued to do that even after the fourth listen. But by the fifth, when I had no distractions, I could delve into his glitch electronics a little more and realise how these guys make their “some-days-I’m-melancholic” come to life. He starts off with the best track on the album, “Plastic 100°C”, illustrating the heat of life and the everyday struggle with a pensive yet convincing-to-all personal narrative of him melting under his plastic form. Nothing more fetching than a piano ballad with his look back at the instrument that may have started his journey in “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”. The comfort shown in this song with voice and piano mirrors the comfort and inspiration gained at home as a child. Nice. There are a lot of tracks which are a little floaty but there’s enough there to stave off the sphere of nothingness. “Under” is one of them. The looping “Yeah” and the reverbed vocals are a treat. Sampha’s voice carries this throughout and, more importantly, when the actual construction of a song doesn’t do enough for you. It’s full; naked; soulful as much as it can be, and needs to be; and fluctuates enough to keep you interested in his story. It definitely has weak points which I would like to see resolved next time ’round. But I can see why he’s in high demand and why he makes good songs linger around great. Some of his piano ballads are better than he thinks and the others are slightly off, enough to downgrade the record slightly, like “Take Me Inside”. But then you return to the beginning and go again to make sure your initial 7/10 is really fair. Eventually you’ll come around and give it the benefit of the doubt. (8/10)

Big Sean: I Decided. [GOOD/Def Jam, 03/02/2017]

I Decided. revolves around the decision-making process of life and the part it plays. Being reborn is a big theme, making up for your mistakes—not quite forgetting about them but attempting to leave them behind and learn from them as best as you can. Going from people owing him to people inspiring him is a hint at the linear progression of I Decided.—paranoid and frightened of life to all of a sudden seeing its value. These born-agains always use the process of rebirth as pathos to excuse themselves of their wrongdoings. They normally get away with it. Nothing at all to see here. He thanks God for bestowing positivity upon him again and giving him the opportunities in life. (6/10)

Older releases

We Cut Corners: The Cadences of Others [Delphi, 04/11/2016]

The group’s third album does the ballads better than the other stuff which goes with it. The Geddy Lee-sounding vocals are just as high-pitched as the originator. That ballad stuff, you ask? “Of Whatever” for instance is something that puts the shameful tracks to further shame. Just check the transition into “Milk Teeth”—a clunky guitar and a dreadful song which if on those modern country-music channels that nobody watches/listens to you’d change as quickly as you can to some “fake news” elsewhere. The recording in a chapel could’ve been to blame for the sparseness. The guitar felt far away from everything, so isolated it had nothing to back it up nor shield it from the bits you didn’t want to hear (which is most of it). Some string sections were worth a flittering listen like in “Oh”. I know this isn’t the pick of Irish music from 2016 so why is it highlighted as such? Come on. (5/10)


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