Welcome to the March edition of Music Monthly! Brought to you each month by Plebings.
In these articles, I quickly go through what I think about some of the most noticeable albums released during the previous month. At the beginning of April, it all looked rather bleak, the only album I was particularly looking forward to was SUPER, all hail the Queen B for sprucing things up a bit.
Beyonce – Lemonade (R&B)
Comments: How do you follow up BEYONCE, an album that seemed to reveal the inpenetrable superstar’s weaknesses and privacy? You go even further. Lemonade is uncomfortable listening, halfway through Lemonade you wonder if you’re listening to the most scathing breakup, and Beyonce doesn’t sugarcoat it one bit. Despite the anger and rage showcased on the first half, what truly is surprising is the latter’s message, which advocates remorse and forgiveness. It’s a refreshing approach to GiRl PoWeR anthems focusing on not needing a man, it takes a strong person to leave their cheating partner, but with so much history on the line, it takes an even stronger one to truly forgive them.
Anyway, the songs. Lemonade is surprisingly varied, bluegrass, rock and the whole catalogue of R&B. Bey brings the frontrunners of their respective genres in to lend a hand too, Jack White on the gritty rock of Don’t Hurt Yourself, The Weeknd on the sleezy R&B number 6 Inch, with Kendrick Lamar and James Blake thrown in on later tracks, she isn’t pulling any punches. I do miss the sensuality and subtleties of her previous, but when you have two bodies of work with two completely different messages it’s difficult to make comparisons. Lemonade ends on a strong, triumphant note from Freedom onwards, focusing on the future rather than the past. Truly gripping listening.
Highlights: Sorry, 6 Inch, Love Drought
Katy B – Honey (Dance)
Comments: Katy B makes dance music, and she wants you to know this; from the Rinse label centured on the cover art, to the tracklisting showcasing the list of collaborators. It’s a farcry from Katy’s previous album Little Red, where she seemed a bit unsure which direction to head in. On Honey, Katy makes a return to the underground London clubs absorbing their sounds, we get shades of grime on Lose Your Head, and a brilliant trance groove on I Wanna Be. It’s a testament to Katy herself that despite the range of sounds it remains a cohesive listen.
Highlights: I Wanna Be, Honey (Outro)
LIGHTS – Midnight Machines (Acoustic)
Comments: This was mainly an excuse to discuss how brilliant Little Machines, LIGHTS’ 2014 album, is. Midnight Machines is an acoustic version of said album, and it’s rather lovely, beautifully arranged and highlighting how lovely her vocals can be. Still, it loses the original’s identity almost entirely, Little Machines excelled with it’s catchy beats and sombre minimalist moments. Midnight Machines tends to blend into one sound, though it’s all worth it on emotionally charged Don’t Go Home Without Me and the chants on Muscle Memory. It’s a mess, but a beautiful one.
Highlights: Muscle Memory, Meteorites
M83 – Junk (Electronic)
Comments: I like to think this album is a sacrifice, for all the romanticism for the 80s it’s easy to look past the ‘junk’ from previous decades. Junk isn’t a tribute, it’s a parody – the album features saxophones, songs straight out of dated TV shows, and to finish the album off a harmonica solo straight from Stevie Wonder’s book. Junk does have it’s moments though, the orchestration on Solitude and the drive behind Walkway Blues are a couple. Still, it’s far too sacchharine and cheesy to take in one sitting, you’ll have rotting teeth and be left pooping the bed.
Pet Shop Boys – SUPER (Pop)
Comments: Watching PSB’s recent resurgence has been a pleasure, it almost looked like the duo were done after 2012’s sombre Elysium. Thankfully they came back with Electric, their best album in a decade the following year, the first in a trilogy. It’s now 2016, and SUPER is the second installment in the Stuart Price trilogy – if Electric was their ode to dance, SUPER is their ode to pop, the songs much more digestible and features some of their best bangers in a while (Say It To Me, Burn). PSB have always respected pop music, and it feels like they’re starting to get the respect they deserve from a newer generation.
Highlights: The Dictator Decides, Say It To Me
Teen Suicide – It’s the Big Joyous Celebration, Let’s Stir the Honeypot (Lo-fi Indie)
Comments: I know how much you all like rushing to pick up copies of things I give good reviews to, but just a warning, this album is 26 tracks long, some of them are bad, some of the are okay, but most are a testament to lo-fi indie rock that you don’t have to stick to your inaudible riffs and vocals. You’ll find something new to love with each listen, as well as hate, but as a body of work I can’t disregard an album where one of the songs starts with “Alex is the best”, it’s no wonder it was released on April Fools Day.
Highlights: The Stomach of the Earth, Violets
Shout out to Drake who’s new album Views was releasing this past month too, I don’t have Apple Music, but hoping it’ll come to Spotify soon. Kudos to Beyonce for forcing me to finally use my free trial for Tidal, and then letting me swiftly unsubscribe.
Just when you thought we could relax, May has delivered us surprise releases from both James Blake and Radiohead, so will definitely be covering them next time. As always, thanks for reading and help dictate what I cover next month by leaving a comment on this article or the forum!