Weekly Capsule Reviews: 19/02/2017

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This week: Jens Lekman, Paul White ft. Danny Brown, Devlin, Lupe Fiasco

Older releases: Wallis Bird, The Divine Comedy


Jens Lekman: Life Will See You Now [Secretly Canadian, 17/02/2017]

This is such a human experience. Lekman knows there are flaws to life but I can’t remember of anyone telling me what life has to offer—and what it has to take away—so much in a ten-track pop effort. He sings about love in a way which we can all grasp to and not swat aside like we’re destined to hearing out some pop star going through the motions and churning out his art for the dosh, even if that is what it’s for. But I get more than that. A Mormon mourning the death of Lady Di and then some guy showing his friend a 3D-printed, plastic version of his tumour that was surgically removed from his back see the first two tracks cement an early premature precedent of listening to another whack job indiehead. But then Everything but the Girl’s Tracey Thorn’s melismatic experience and individual harmony drop in to set up the rest of this piece of counselling and understanding. He nonchalantly switches from the Mormon missionary hearing of Lady Di’s death on the radio to then listening to the current top ten from the music world, orchestrating our frustration but participation in the fickleness of life. Hang the DJ, I say. It’s hard to know if his art, or indeed his being, points to secularism. We get a great science lesson in “How We First Met, the Long Version” but Lekman says in the opener, “But in a world of mouths/I want to be an ear/If there’s a purpose to all this/Then that’s why God put me here”. He busts out his Paul Simon in “Wedding in Finistère” and illustrates his humble side once more: “I was booked for a weeding, on the coast of Finistère/After the rehearsal, I took a walk down to the harbor”. A Swedish pop star having to go through a rehearsal to play at a wedding? Or better yet, taking it that seriously? He doesn’t mind, you can tell. The differing instruments everywhere are obviously influenced and most are very well placed. He similes and metaphors the shit out of life, nature, science, and love—not the first, but you’d be hard-pressed to find better. I think it had too many great moments and it generated a smile on my face for the forty-or-so minutes. Me? Yes. And even that genius analysis of a breakup in “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?” will make you want to go through the pain again, or indeed, for the first time. Life Will See You Now is life advice in which the title so aptly points towards this counsellor’s secretary beckoning you inside from the waiting room to see and hear the man at work—”My friends say, ‘Just be a shrink then’/But I don’t know, I don’t think I’ll have the grades”. He does. (9/10)


Paul White ft. Danny Brown: Accelerator (EP/collaboration) [R&S, 10/02/2017]

Four tracks—two of which are instrumentals of the other two with Brown’s words—wherein the beats feel bloated and full of themselves in attempting to emulate Danny Brown’s innate weirdness. I would definitely like to hear more but I think Brown could struggle to conjure up anything new with the beats given to him. All they seem to do is give him a platform to repeat his fucked-up notion of himself. (7/10)


Devlin: The Devil In [Devlin Music (self-released), 10/02/2017]

The writer’s block has subsided so he can now write about everything he’s already written about. He’s actually more feminine than you’d think or more than he wants you to know. The track “Bitches” tries to counteract his femininity but we can see through it. The beats are pretty good but Devlin is Devlin, and this is Devlin. (6/10)


Lupe Fiasco: DROGAS Light [1st & 15th (self-released), 09/02/2017]

Rappers harping on about the hood is entertaining, he acknowledges, but his fellow people have to join forces to end the violence. The first six tracks go from lively, to dull, to semi-lively without much of a hindrance until the middle section’s wearisome nature takes over wherein he thinks he has something of note to add with his “anti-establishment” lyrics. I am being a bit unfair as this was a quick stitch-together. I think Fiasco really relies on his beats a lot when it comes to a more pop-focused album of his, which this is. And particularly when it’s filled with throwaway tracks and at times lyrical nonentities. They fell asunder a bit. It seemed relatively focused at the beginning but eventually lost out to its microwave-meal, quick construction and a feeling of a record full of hand-me-down tracks. (6/10)


Older releases

Wallis Bird: Home [Mount Silver/Caroline International, 30/09/2016]

It’s more annoying than she thinks. It’s chirpy in a kind of, forgive me, Irish way; not quite positive in content but more so with her current situation. She’s found love and as usual with the discovery of what life can offer you when you wait and are patient she wears her heart on her sleeve and informs us of how wonderful it is. Yet she isn’t silly enough to be as naive as to reject the possibility of it crumbling around her when she least expects it. That’s where the positivity isn’t as pronounced as it may well could’ve been and ought to have been. “Fantasy” is about gaining a different perspective on life which is ever impactful given her sexual preference now. Giving the air of living in a fantasy but understanding it and coming back to reality just as quick matches and faces what was mentioned earlier—it could all come tumbling down at any point. And by the way, leaving that shitty job and shitty relationship is easier said than done. “I thought I knew it all at twenty-two/But it turns out that I don’t have a clue”—Where have I heard that before? (7/10)


The Divine Comedy: Foreverland [The Divine Comedy Records (self-released), 02/09/2016]

I didn’t see much in this vaudevillian performance until the sanctuary of “To the Rescue” and the theatrics of “How Can You Leave Me on My Own” came ranging in like a beacon of some sort. The latter of which Hannon is making a mockery of himself but still feels he’s worthy of love and affection like we all are, no matter the flaws. Historical figures get the nod with little interest in a Google search from yours truly. My fault or Hannon’s? A bit of both. Finding love is hard and finding the right one is even harder. But when Hannon hits that final upsurge in the final track, all of a sudden everything makes sense—love, chasing your dreams, living, and… this album. When you return you’ll remember why you dislike the first half but you won’t care when “To the Rescue” comes in again. (7/10)


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