Music Review, Miley Cyrus, “Younger Now”

Music Review, Miley Cyrus, “Younger Now”

Share

Miley Cyrus is no stranger to playing a persona. She achieved stardom as a pre-teen playing a secret pop star on the widely successful Disney Channel show “Hannah Montana” and went from “Party in the U.S.A.” to appropriating hip-hop culture for profit in the blink of an eye. Now, Miley seriously wants you to forget the past few years of her career and the whole 2013 VMAs debacle because she is “so not that.” On her latest album, “Younger Now,” Miley Cyrus denounces her “Bangerz” era and finds peace with herself in the aftermath of a turbulent half decade. But what happens when the artist lifts the persona but is left with something so bland and uninspiring, you almost miss the cringe-worthy twerking? Do we then acknowledge that the drama of a public meltdown (and, again, appropriating another culture for years before chucking it like leftover sushi when it no longer generates media buzz or revenue) is the art that sells tickets to a world tour – not the music itself? Although Miley Cyrus claims to have found herself personally, musically, she’s got a long road ahead of her. Miley Cyrus has a powerful voice, both literally and figuratively (her philanthropic efforts are incredible for someone her age, and she’s even founded her own organization to fight injustice facing homeless youth and LGBTQ youth called The Happy Hippie Foundation), but that voice seems lost in her transition from persona. The opening title track begins with “Feels like I just woke up.” After listening to the album in it’s entirety, full of lazy lyrics and flat musical production, we are left wondering if she’s even bothered to get out of bed yet.

Music Review: Arcade Fire, “Everything Now”

Music Review: Arcade Fire, “Everything Now”

Share

Critically acclaimed, French-Canadian indie-rock band, Arcade Fire, has released their fifth studio album, “Everything Now.” Since their debut back in 2004 with “Funeral,” Arcade Fire has taken the industry by storm, winning basically every music award imaginable and catapulting indie sounds into the mainstream conscious. With each new album’s release, Arcade Fire’s popularity, influence, and talent grows. But with this latest venture, the band nose dives from the pedestal they were put on. “Everything Now” lacks the lyrical, emotional, and auditory depth Arcade Fire is known for – what made them lovable underdogs, misfits, and self-proclaimed “weirdos” in the first place. The band’s ability to create a remarkably stunning and cohesive album is practically thrown out here (or perhaps gets weighed down entirely by the pressure to produce another Arcade Fire masterpiece.) Either way, the album’s overall sound delivers as “The World’s Lamest Disco,” from the title track’s ABBA-inspired cords (sadly the best track on the album), to the disjointed, painfully clichéd “Peter Pan,” to the album’s lead single, “Creature Comfort” (which is essentially an anti-suicide message that somehow comes off as self-centered thanks to a line about their music preventing a fan’s suicide), Arcade Fire is in a state of artistic crisis. For a band that has always stood for something, “Everything Now,” tries to stand for too much – and winds up standing for nothing.

 

 

Music Review: Lana Del Rey, “Lust for Life”

Music Review: Lana Del Rey, “Lust for Life”

Share

The master of melancholy, Lana Del Rey, is back with “Lust for Life,” her fifth studio album. Since Del Rey exploded onto the music scene in 2011 with her viral music video for “Video Games,” she has captivated our imaginations – an enigma wrapped in the American flag, old Hollywood glamour, and clinical depression. With “Lust for Life,” Del Rey continues her legacy, filled with the cinematic stylization and vintage pop culture allusions her fans have grown to love (and expect) from her music. The album is beautifully composed, lending her luscious, romantic vocals to hip hop beats, protest songs, and youthful anthems alike. Opener and lead single, “Love,” is as dreamy as it is empowering; while “In My Feelings,” is as cool as Del Rey herself. Joining her on the album’s title track is The Weeknd, while on “Beautiful People Beautiful Problems” Del Rey looks at the world from above with Stevie Nicks. Overall, “Lust for Life” is as heartbreaking of an album as it is hopeful – a statement piece for an artist so intricately associated with images of Americana during our current national crisis of identity.

Music Review: Coldplay, “Kaleidoscope EP”

Music Review: Coldplay, “Kaleidoscope EP”

Share

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Coldplay has released a companion EP to their 2015 album, “A Head Full of Dreams.” On the five-track EP dubbed, “Kaleidoscope,” Chris Martin and crew deliver new songs, as well as a live version of their popular Chainsmokers EDM collaboration, “Something Just Like This,” recorded during the Tokyo leg of their massive world tour. Opener “All I Can Think About Is You” is an excellent track for any true Coldplay fan to enjoy, starting off somber and mellow, then, after a piano riff-turn, bursts open with guitar and orchestral accompaniment, as many classic Coldplay hits do. “Miracles (Someone Special) ft. Big Sean” is also another great jam for Coldplay fans with a sweet message. In “ALIENS,” Martin tackles the European migrant crisis; while closer “Hypnotised – EP Mix” reminds us, once again, why a recent study found that Coldplay is the “most sleep-inducing band.”

 

Music Review: TLC, “TLC”

Music Review: TLC, “TLC”

Share

Fifteen years after Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was involved in a fatal car crash while filming a documentary in Honduras, the remaining members of the iconic 90’s R&B trio – TLC – “Chilli” Thomas and “T-Boz” Watkins, have released their fifth and final TLC album with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. In early 2015, they asked fans to help finance the project by donating at least $5 to reach their goal of $150,000. In less than 48 hours, they surpassed their goal and become the “fastest most funded pop project in Kickstarter history,” raising a total of $400,000. Clearly, the group that fostered feminist anthems like “No Scrubs” and “Unpretty,” are still relevant today. TLC delivers as a perfect farewell album: from opener “No Introduction” (“We don’t need no scrubs chasing waterfalls”), to empowering tracks like “Haters” and “Perfect Girls,” the album is a celebration of their history (“Way Back ft. Snoop Dogg”), their legacy (“It’s Sunny,”) their work as champions of social justice (“American Gold”), and, most heartfeltly, their fans (“Joy Ride.”) Chilli and T-Boz may be saying goodbye to new TLC music, but they’re not splitting up – they’ve promised their devoted fans that they will continue to perform together for as long as they can.