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February 9-14, Six Days Of Insanely Good Music
More like Hoopla-la-la-la-la with all this music talk, am I right?
I’m back again with more things to say about music, I’m not apologizing! This year has started off with some extreme bangers, both with singles and albums.
Most recently, within less than a week, there were five albums and a single that ranged from great to other-worldly.
Let Her Burn - Rebecca Black
Yes, that’s right.
Known for her viral “Friday” song, Rebecca Black finally released her first album on Feb. 9. It ranges from more traditional pop tunes to some moments of hyper pop, and for the most part, it absolutely works.
Black proves her talent and then some, with excellent production choices, great vocal range and a variety of sounds that bop all the same. “Destroy Me” and “Look At You” are my two favorites on it.
This Is Why - Paramore
Paramore came back with their first album in six years, and the quality remained the same as always, which is to say that it’s excellent.
Hayley Williams and co came back from their (masterpiece) synth pop album “After Laughter” with something a little more classic Paramore, but with a more mature sound and feel than ever before. The result is 10 extremely consistent tracks that are able to bring the intensity or slow it down with equal success.
This album was always going to be great because of who was creating it, but it met expectations all the same, and man, did I miss having a new Paramore album to keep returning to. The highlights on here, for me, are “Figure 8” and “Crave,” but it’s so solid throughout that I could really hear an argument for any of them.
Pollen - Tennis
The next up from the Feb. 10 releases is from married pop duo Tennis, who dropped a very good pop record here with “Pollen.”
Tennis is a group I was aware of prior to this, but had only heard a few songs from, all of which I enjoyed (shoutout “Runner” in specific). This album, while not quite as all-around solid as “This Is Why,” still has loads of highlights and is well worth your time.
Tennis, simply put, makes thoroughly enjoyable pop music, and the opener off of this album, “Forbidden Doors,” is the duo at their most enjoyable.
Raven - Kelela
Like Paramore, Kelela dropped a terrific album in 2017, “Tear Me Apart,” then dipped. Six years later, on Feb. 10, she returned with her sophomore album, and it is truly wonderful.
A mix of R&B, electronic and some pop, Kelela feels like she has mastered her craft even further on “Raven,” with 15 excellent tracks spanning just over an hour.
The vocals, the lyrics, it all works wonderfully here, and I would go with the titular track and “Happy Ending” as my favorites, though that’s a difficult question to answer.
Desire, I Want To Turn Into You - Caroline Polachek
This Valentine’s Day album has been among my most anticipated for awhile thanks to tremendous singles like “Welcome To My Island” and “Sunset,” but even with nearly half of the 12 tracks coming out prior, Caroline Polachek made the hype for the album worth it here.
“Desire, I Want To Turn Into You,” utilizes Polachek’s distinct, unbelievably impressive voice as effective as anything she’s released before, and does so over songs ranging wildly in styles.
But despite musical genres flipping and tossing and turning, the themes of love radiate throughout in a way only Polachek could say them. This is a magnificent album, and the songs prior still manage to stand out months later. An extra shoutout to “I Believe,” my favorite non-single of the bunch, and possibly my favorite track on the entire record.
A&W - Lana Del Rey
The last piece of music I’m talking about here is a seven-minute single from an artist that I often don’t get the hype about.
Lana Del Rey’s early portion of her career was not something I gravitated to, but “Norman Fucking Rockwell” was a turning point for me, and that outrageously good album has made me cautiously optimistic for Lana releases since.
This new album, through two singles, is doing the same thing as NFR did, and for as good as the titular “Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd” was, “A&W” is almost undoubtedly the best song Lana Del Rey has ever made, at least to me.
The song, alternatively titled “American Whore” and produced by Jack Antonoff, is an odyssey that begins as many Lana songs do before turning into something so much more. Over a stripped back, but emotion-filled beat, Lana sings anecdotally about her upbringing, being a sex addict, and the struggles that come with it, both internally and from the cruelty of everyone else.
This first half is stunning on its own thanks to one of the most powerful vocal performances I’ve ever heard from Lana, but the song isn’t done with its surprises yet. Instead, around the four-minute mark, the vocals drop out, and a trap-inspired beat slowly starts creeping in. Eventually, it builds and builds until Lana returns, ending the track with a true bang.
There is, well, a lot happening on this thing, and yet it all feels like it belongs. Everything just works, and it dropped my jaw to the floor the first time I heard it. Even for someone who is not a Lana super fan, “A&W” completely blew me away, and it will undoubtedly be one of my top songs from this year when December comes around.
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