M83 – Saturdays = Youth
I was initially let-down when M83 released an ambient record; I wanted a follow up to Before the Dawn Heals Us. Well, here it is. The aesthetic of Dawn is present, but evolved – lush homesick melodies, roaring ambience, even the melodramatic speaking bits. There’s an unspoken narrative to the record, in a way it feels like a concept album or soundtrack to a John Hughes film. Featured are secret high school loves (Kim & Jessie), dark vampiric lusts (Skin of the Night), even gothy despair (Graveyard Girl). Coleurs, the first single, is a bit overlong (a standard M83 sin), and the second half of the record isn’t as strong. But overall an excellent return by Anthony Gonzalez. Other standouts: We Own the Sky, Highway of Endless Dreams
Cut Copy – In Ghost Colours
The march of retro continues, this time Tears for Fears and New Order have their doppelganger. There’s a guilty pleasure to In Ghost Colours (an aside: the same cheesy synth-pop that induced disdain in the 90s brings giddy nostalgia in the ironic 00s.) But the record is bouncy, summery fun, and vocalist Dan Whitford might as well be Bernard Sumner’s long lost twin. The midpoint of the record slows it down, trading jumpy discotheque hits for introspective new wave (So Haunted, Voices in Quartz), only to stoke it back again with Hearts on Fire and Far Away. Other standout tracks: Out there on the Ice, Lights and Music, Strangers in the Wind.
My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges
It’s been years since Z and MMJ has only grown more legendary. They’ve played dozens of epic orchestral shows before thousands at modern-day Woodstocks. Thankfully, James’s vocal chords are still wonderfully in tact. The unadulterated southern rock is still in full force (Evil Urges, I’m Amazed, etc) but James utilizes his unique falsetto in ways that have drawn comparisons to Prince (Highly Suspicious). The best track, Smokin from Shootin, encapsulates the record’s aesthetic – a sort of persistence through tragedy, a mournful steel guitar underlying James’s crescendoing cry. Other Standout tracks – Sec’ Walkin, Touch Me I’m Going to Scream.
Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust
Thank God I was born in the late 20th century, giving me the chance to hear one of the most amazing sounds – the electric guitar. Is there no sweeter sound than a distorted Les Paul grinding out chords? Raveonettes Lust Lust Lust is a study in sound, and as the pitchfork review says – it must be loud loud loud. The best comparison I can come up with is Jesus and Mary Chain meets 60 do-wop girl pop (Ronettes). But hell, it works, and it’s great. Standout tracks – Hallucinations, Dead Sound, Blush.