Kendrick Lamar – “Damn”
Three years after the experimental jazz rap album “To Pimp a Butterfly”, comes the politically and socially charged “Damn”. A conscious hip-hop piece, which lyrically takes a step back from the usual avant-garde poetic rap and is now a more straightforward listen, that’s filled with ambiguous lyrics and powerful beats. It’s same-titled songs take on topics like “Fear”, “Loyalty”, “God”, alongside the slightly egotistical song “DNA”, which gives us some insights into Lamar’s disappointment and frustration living in Trump’s America. Lamar has positioned himself even closer towards musical legend status.
Lorde – “Melodrama”
At the young age of 21, Lorde has again managed to create an aesthetically pleasing listen, that embraces electronic pop and classic artists such as Kate Bush and David Bowie. “Melodrama” examines the concept of youth, capturing themes of adolescence and heartbreak. As well as battling with her own demons, as heard in the dramatic “Writer in the Dark”, in which she acknowledges that she is too intense and tough to handle in a relationship. It’s plain to see that she has come along way since “Pure Heroine”. The mixture of Lorde’s bold introspective lyrics, pounding piano chords and stomping electro sounds, one must give credit where credit is due. “Melodrama” is a pop hit and Lorde is becoming the musical voice of the millennial generation.
Fleet Foxes – “Crack-up”
Following a three year hiatus, Fleet Foxes return with “Crack-Up”, a profoundly ambitious folk rock album that has somewhat slightly shifted away from their celebrated idyllic harmonious melodies, and introduced experimental ideas illustrating their need for artistic growth. The album incorporated an odd mixture of sound including; middle eastern string melodies; chamber orchestration and pastoral psychedelia, unveiling the band’s bravery to progressively challenge themselves. Lyrically, the songs appear to be semi cryptic, but it is clear that Pecknold does not shy away from his political and personal disillusion as demonstrated in the track “Fool’s Errand”. An album of unfailing beauty and depth, “Crack-up” is a successfully daring step forward.
Slowdive – “Slowdive”
With their first record after twenty two years, the shoegazing dream pop pioneers are back. The eponymous album is a triumphant return and delivers everything their fans have always praised them for. “Slowdive” contains atmospherics of ambient music, ‘outer space’ distortion and faint breathy vocals, that nostalgically transports one back to the early 90’s. This quality of sound is echoed throughout their new material, a prime example is the track “Sugar for the Pill” with its incandescent guitar tones and beautiful eerie melody. All through the album there is the combination of surreal lyrical imagery and a lack of vocal clarity, which beyond question drives the listener’s consciousness to experience a narrative of a mysterious and unsettling dream. Self titling the album might be seen as an awareness of legacy to some, however listening to musically, it’s clear they’ve hit the reset button and returned to where they started. They remain Shoegaze icons.