Record Bulletin

Record Bulletin, 5/25: Madonna – “Rebel Heart” and Young Fathers – “White Men Are Black Men Too”

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I swear I’ll get back to posting more often, but I have to say that I’m a bit put off so far by 2015. I keep listening to new stuff but I’m not having enough fun and find myself wanting to respin stuff I praised last year. Meh. Either way, you get to read what I think about the new Madonna album, my absent opinion thus far most definitely the cause of many a sleepless night for you, and for that I am sorry.

Madonna_Rebel_Heart_physical_standard_coverMADONNA – Rebel Heart (Interscope): And here I was thinking the Iggy Azalea album was stupid. Since Madonna’s been a chameleon since she started, and since she started at the tail-end of trendy postmodernism, I honestly can’t tell whether any of this is meant ironically. The quirks she employs are just outdated enough to be cringe-inducing the way a good Neil Hamburger joke is, and the way she affects her voice makes it sound like she is indeed jesting. Overproduced in a way only a Madonna album can be, she strives for schlock, not filler, when she doesn’t have a genuine moment. For every “Joan of Arc,” there’s a cheesy, club-thumping “Illuminati.” For every questionable Avicii production choice, there’s a slick layer of Kanye. For every Mike Tyson appearance (what the fuck?), there’s Chance the Rapper. I’m constantly perplexed by both my derision for the music and admiration for the woman making it, which I can’t say about Iggy Azalea, who’s just stupid. B PLUS (***)

White_Men_Are_Black_Men_TooYOUNG FATHERS – White Men Are Black Men Too (Big Dada): Hip-hop, or so I’m told. This Edinburgh trio has more in common with TV On the Radio than any alt-rapper of your choice, bigger fans of chunky grooves and slightly soul-inflected vocals than using words to make meaning. Their strategy consists of starting with a simple buzz beat and gradually adding layers—looped coos and foggy sirens, chopping block drums and finger-punched piano keys—until the song turns into a rumbling cloud of audial intensity, threatening to implode at any moment. Their often nonsensical lyrics function more as extensions of their limited array of instruments than as articulate realpolitik; I suppose you can take away from their words that they’re anti-racism, but I’m at a loss as to what the title means, and that they muddy the water on the track where it appears (“Old Rock ‘n Roll”) by sneaking in a ‘some’ at the beginning makes it even less clear. Maybe it’s just meant to be clever the way a name like TV On the Radio is meant to be clever. Or maybe I’m an idiot. A MINUS

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