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. It’s been a struggle this past month as both Gwen and Kanye decided they would bless me with streaming access to their albums on April 1st. Needless to say, hopefully, next month’s article will come around swifter!
Department M – Deep Control (Synthpop)
Comments: I’m slightly biased here as I’ve been waiting for this album for years, but the debut(?) from Department M is finally here and it’s brilliant. Owen Brinley’s choirboy vocals offer a nice juxtaposition to the goth-synth pop on show here, the mix is reminiscent of acts like Depeche Mode or more recently East India Youth, highly recommended if you’re into a darker style of synthpop.
Highlights: Air Exchange, Compulsion
Emmy The Great – Second Love (Singer-songwriter)
Comments: Second Love is nice, but it doesn’t often get further than that, it’s twee to a fault, sickeningly so. Emmy’s vocals are nice, the arrangements are nice, the songs are… nice. I do admire the growth she’s shown since her debut with the guitar arrangements and electronics. If only it burst out of its own bubble a bit more. Check it out if you’re into female singer-songwriters, it’s just not for me.
Highlights: Lost In You, Social Halo
Gwen Stefani – This Is What The Truth Feels Like (Pop)
Comments: I still consider Gwen’s solo debut a masterpiece, Gwen put on a brilliant performance, the songs sounded way beyond their time, and (a rare thing in pop) none of it was filler. More than 10 years later, we’re onto Gwen’s third solo effort, and against all odds (early singles Baby Don’t Lie and Spark the Fire were rightfully trashed) it’s actually out, it’s good and it reached #1 in the US. For a breakup album, it’s oddly carefree, the album could have been filled with Used To Love Yous, but more often than not Gwen looks towards the future on tracks like Rare and Truth. It might not be groundbreaking like LAMB felt, but it’s a solid pop album, and that’s all I could ask for.
Highlights: Rare, Truth
Kanye West – The Life of Pablo (Rap)
Comments: Late to the party I guess, but it’s finally on Spotify, so here we go. You can’t deny Kanye’s ear for beats, tracks like Wolves, Feedback, Waves all have rather forward thinking instrumentals, and the gospel theme throughout is a really nice touch. Sadly like the man himself, it’s just all a bit excessive in the wrong way. Despite consisting of mainly short tracks, it certainly feels like it’s 19 track affair, when Kanye isn’t pumping out the melody, he’s stuck on some rather lazy trap beat like Facts. You could make a great album out of the 19 tracks, and maybe he intended it that way, but in it’s current state it desperately needs a haircut.
Highlights: Ultralight Beam, Feedback
Lapsley – Long Way Home (Singer-songwriter)
Comments: Long Way Home is the kind of album I’d like Adele attempting. The husky-voiced Lapsley may not reach Adele’s theatric vocals, but thanks to the majority of the album’s sparse arrangements they may tug even further on your heartstrings. Picture Adele covering songs from Jessie Ware and The xx.
Highlights: Seven Months, Operator (He Doesn’t Call Me)
Miike Snow – III (Pop)
Comments: When your group is formed of 3 brilliant songwriters, how can the results sound so tame? I’ll give credit to the sound of III, as overall the production is nice and crisp, but Andrew Wyatt’s vocals come across so monotone its hard to strike up any emotion listening. They should stick to writing for others, as the album track featuring last month’s bad egg Charli XCX is properly brilliant.
Highlights: For U (feat. Charli XCX)
Zayn – Mind of Mine (R&B)
Comments: I aDmIt, I wAsN’t ExPeCtInG mUcH fRoM zAyN, bUt I lEfT mInD oF mInE pLeAsAnTlY sUrPrIsEd. ThE aLbUm AtTeMpS tO cOvEr LoTs Of GrOuNd, FrOm ThE mOrE uPbEaT tRaCkS fRoM bIeBeR’s PuRpOsE tO tHe MeLaNcHoLiE oF mIgUeL’s R&b. WhIlE mOsT oF tHe AlBuM iS uP tO sCrUfF, wHeN tHe AlBuM sLoWs DoWn It ExPoSeS zAyN’s VoCaLs ShOwInG jUsT hOw MoNoToNe It CaN bE.
Highlights: lUcOzAdE, LIKE I WOULD
Let us know what you think of these albums by leaving a comment below!