It All Means Nothing
Metacritic’s current top ten has changed a bit, with Jessie Ware, Japandroids, and Swans creeping in. Haven’t heard Swans yet, and don’t really plan to. Not about to devote two hours or whatever it is to a heavy metal album by a band I’m unfamiliar with, much less one that’s been vilified by writers I like. Japandroids I reviewed earlier with a low Honorable Mention, and Jessie Ware I heard the other day after Tatum panned it and referred to a fawning British press, which I guess I missed. The rest of the top ten has some pretty solid albums, a few of which will probably be in my own top ten. No surprises: Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange leads by a mile.
ALLO DARLIN’ – Europe (Slumberland): Aussie Elizabeth Morris’s London-based indie-twee outfit’s second album is spunkier than their debut. Morris has a knack for pinning down the anxieties of growing older: Who do I hold on to? What moments are the right ones to cherish? Is anyone else but me thinking about these things? Best advice is that she’s too young to fret over these matters and should wait ‘til she’s old to consider them, but being this young myself I understand the sentiment: a desire to correctly answer the questions now to avoid living the kind of life that asks them retrospectively. Could get heavy with annoying angst, but propped against near-perfect pop hooks the tunes roll on one after the other. A little Rilo Kiley, a splash of Vampire Weekend, no teen pop idolatry. A MINUS
SCREAMING FEMALES – Ugly (Don Giovanni): Sorta punk rock trio from Jersey with only one female (Marissa Paternoster) who’s consequently both guitarist and vocalist and has enough voice to seem like more. Heard 2010’s Castle Talk once and don’t remember a single detail, though this one definitely sticks. When they drop heavy riffs (“Leave It All Up to Me,” “Rotten Apple”) or infuse tinges of Latin (“Red Hand,” “Expire”) they do well. Problem is sometimes they solo in purposeless prog, and at 53:52 they could’ve done themselves a favor by trimming the fat, giving that opening four-song run enough heft to propel the listener through to the end. Instead they include the whole shebang and land a Spin exclusive. A MINUS