Weekly Capsule Reviews: 18/06/2017


This week: Alfa Mist, At the Drive-In, Feist, SZA, (Sandy) Alex G, Katy Perry, Ride

Alfa Mist: Antiphon [self-released, 03/03/2017]

Reluctantly traversing through some drecks on YouTube, I accidentally stumbled across this not-so-contemporary contemporary jazz. Regulated, perpetually-unobtrusive percussion, dispassionate guitars (notwithstanding “Kyoki”), and a message he knows/thinks the rational on both ends of the social and political divide will understand. You can pick that one out unequivocally. (8/10)

At the Drive-In: in•ter a•li•a [Rise, 05/05/2017]

Not to be denied their chance at competing in the fetish of inhabiting nostalgia’s past, the fanboys are out in combative force to knock At the Drive-In’s neglect of producing another Relationship of Command—whether this particular effort is or isn’t another Relationship of Command to the trained ear or naively-curious rest of us, it doesn’t matter. Lost in the ether of emo and alt-metal, they are and were always neither. Cedric Bixler muses about nada and todo all at once which makes their visceral punch all the more appealing, especially as they represent(ed) rock music as well as anyone. How? Well it’s nada and todo all at once. Embrace it. (7/10)

Feist: Pleasure [Universal, 28/04/2017]

A softer Rid of Me. “Softer” on the subject matter, too. (7/10)

SZA: Ctrl [Top Dawg/RCA, 09/06/2017]

Not averse to admitting bangin’ her ex’s boy for said ex was sleeping around elsewhere and having someone else on lock for the weekend even if he’s spoken for, her forever-young is only evident in less than a third of this—don’t be fooled, you could easily get caught up in the promiscuous stuff, but there’s more to it than that. Genuine insecurities abound, she hangs her dirty laundry out for all to see including the sexual recalcitrants she’s wronged or has been wronged by. From cut three’s statement of the benign to the finale’s self-analytical synopsis, SZA realises rapidly the need for reform (bar that weekend timetable). But never should she lose her ability or indeed her wont of being the catch rather than the chaser. That tact can only remain intact, however, if she keeps getting her heart broken, and keeps breaking hearts. Don’t take it personal. (7/10)

(Sandy) Alex G: Rocket [Domino, 19/05/2017]

Monotonous until “Bobby” comes rolling in, and then back to monotony again. Just as rootsy as it is rocky, just as forlorn as it isn’t. Americana to roots to glitch to noise to experimental R&B to grunge to country to emo to dream-pop. (6/10)

Katy Perry: Witness [Capitol, 09/06/2017]

Her exploratory girl-on-girl soft-raunch to this tech post-teenybopper raunch is not as “based” as first envisaged. Most certainly not “woke”. “Bon Appétit” is no more liberating than “I Kissed a Girl”—just as upfront, though. There was definitely room for more ballads underneath the half-baked surfaces of indulgence and exuberance on discovering the secrets of living when one is having a good time and isn’t. But it wouldn’t be what it is otherwise. (6/10)

Ride: Weather Diaries [Wichita/PIAS, 16/06/2017]

We waited over two-and-a-half years (plus nineteen-ish) for this beautifully-orated, dulcet compartment of anti-noise. I’m always harping on about how reliving your teenage days is trite—not in relation to travelling back to the days when you were actually a cantankerous pubescent but more being a forty-/fifty-something now listening to bands’ newly-released material after a “long hiatus”. I’m probably a premature hypocrite at twenty-five—wait ’til I’m forty, I suppose. Be wary of the likes of Slowdive’s self-titled from last month—make sure to catch the trip before it becomes nostalgia. We should always judge these albums on their own individual “merits” detached from the records of yesteryear. But we just can’t. I wasn’t even born when Nowhere was released. That’s not stopping me from plugging in “Seagull” again. Maybe I’m already a hypocrite. (6/10)

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