Weekly Capsule Reviews: 16/04/2017


This week: Arca, Joey Bada$$, Kendrick Lamar, Future Islands, Freddie Gibbs, Imelda May, Bob Dylan

Older releases/Classics: Wire, Father John Misty

Arca: Arca [XL, 07/04/2017]

In which Alejandro Ghersi lends his vocals to the form of Arca for the first time. The beats are dark, dank, and “Castration” hints at an epileptic mechanic flailing about in the middle of a job. But we’re dealt courage to overcome that with the doleful harp in “Coraje”. The screechy and deranged opener lends itself to the listener nicely for what’s to come. Not in sonics so much but the theme of openness and facing whatever issues are present in one’s life. The feeling is vulnerability. And we’re all vulnerable, be it in Spanish or otherwise. (8/10)

Joey Bada$$: ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$ [Pro Era/Cinematic, 07/04/2017]

What I like most about this is it knows that black people have had issues in the States since time immemorial but references it in a subtle way as to not alienate the ignorant listener, the expert, and himself. He’s sick of singing the same tune but keeping it on the DL will facilitate his continuation of it (which is actually what he wants). Thankfully the tunes weren’t relinquished or watered down, and you can agree on that whichever side of the fence you’re on. (7/10)

Kendrick Lamar: DAMN. [Top Dawg/Aftermath/Interscope, 14/04/2017]

Kendrick Lamar is at a stage in his career where he could record himself farting into a bucket for an hour and it would be conceived as the greatest piece of concept art in the postmodern era (which might not be far off the mark, all jokes aside). Has he earned that tag? No, not yet. Where To Pimp a Butterfly marked African-Americanism as an art form with the music attached and untitled unmastered. marked African-Americanism as the original art form with more-than-occasionally detached tunes in their attempt at authentic mannerisms, this lies somewhere in between. He finds himself travelling back to the good kid, m.A.A.d city days; this is more inward self-reflection projected out, and he hasn’t even labelled it a “concept album”. It’s more of a concept than good kid. And I would argue just as much of an autobiography, too. (7/10)

Future Islands: The Far Field [4AD, 07/04/2017]

Like that, in the drop of a hat, they’re now slowly-to-moderately becoming the band we didn’t need in 1982—even disregarding the Debbie Harry collab—performing a U-turn from their saviours-of-synth tag last time ’round. If they don’t get it in gear and churn out a twenty-first-century version of alternative rock kicking the New Romantics to the curb, we can call it quits with this lot. They reside more in the latter than they’re willing to admit which will make a rock ‘n’ roll revolution very difficult. I got it last time, that’s enough. That pains me to say because Herring is a frontman that has more in him than passing off phony Cookie Monster antics on stage… I hope… (6/10)

Freddie Gibbs: You Only Live 2wice [ESGN/EMPIRE, 31/03/2017]

I have no idea what he’s talking about. (6/10)

Imelda May: Life. Love. Flesh. Blood [Decca, 07/04/2017]

Irish former rockabilly gal now clean-cut princess who said she “refused to change [her] look for a deal” the last time anyone took any notice of her. But she did it anyway. (6/10)

Bob Dylan: Triplicate (Sampler/Streaming Version) [Columbia, 31/03/2017]

The sample version was the only one available to me. Ten tracks out of the physical’s thirty “hand-picked” for your weary listening and Dylan’s weary deliverance of the light stuff which is part of his now weary repertoire. (5/10)

Older releases/Classics

Wire: Pink Flag [Harvest, December 1977]

Twenty-one tracks in which only three overstep the three-minute mark and each one bears little resemblance to the preceding one. The three chords that represented punk outstayed their welcome from the minute the door opened. But when the back-up vocals of “Mannequin” kick in, in that single instance, Wire suddenly excused all of those bands’ transgressions and gave [further] meaning to their context. No need for repentance. (9/10)

Father John Misty: I Love You, Honeybear [Bella Union, 09/02/2015]

A grandiose and rich declaration of his love for whoever wants to take it. His wife did, eventually. His many guises are deceiving, but I feel him here. (7/10)


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