‘Magdalene’, despite it often raising both the tempo and intensity, sounds like one, thirty nine minute cry of exasperation. Isn’t this enough? Do you all somehow want more? Didn’t I, as it were, do it, if you will, for, one could argue, you?
FKA Twigs is looking at the consequences of her labour, both emotional and physical (something something fibroid tumours something something “fruit bowl of pain“), and is at once incensed and dejected that it’s seemingly all been for nothing. Her sacrifices in the past mean nothing now and she’s not the one who gets to decide how she’s perceived. No matter how much she learns to love herself, her body, and whomever else decides to share that love at certain points, they can all turn against her at whim and make all of this adoration seem wasted. “Sure, Alex”, I hear you craw, not deigning the situation important enough to stop shoving food into your fat mouth as you speak to me so that with every vowel sound I can see disgusting mushes of Tangy Cheese Doritos swirling around your decaying teeth, “you’re an amazing, Pulitzer-Prize level writer and I, for one, am enthralled, but what’s this all got to do with Mary Magdalene, that tart with the heart who washed Jesus’s feet with her hair, the filthy tramp, and who Dan Brown tells me painted The Last Supper, or something?”
Considering neither The Manic Street Preachers or Lupe Fiasco were scheduled to release an album in 2019, I don’t think I was looking forward to any record this year as much as Ms Van Etten’s fifth. Her fourth, ‘Are We There’, was one of the threealbumsreleased in 2014 that were legitimate GOAT contenders and all kinda given my joint album of the year. It was such an amazingly accomplished and powerful record, one that moved the more eloquent reviewers to state that it was “an absolutely devastating Sturm und Drag bulldozer of emotion, a sharp piercing blade of hopeless heartache that is as heartbreaking and moving as any movie you’ve seen since ‘Toy Story 3“. I have to assume that Toy Story 3 was still totally a topical reference point when that prodigiously insightful yet dangerously sexually alluring reviewer wrote that. While I spend all of my time excruciatingly droning on about how artists/people should be constantly evolving and pushing their sound/personality forward, I often catch myself just hoping that artists responsible for my favourite things will just do those favourite things again! Hey, Jazz Cartier, why isn’t the new album just Red Alert ten times?? Hey, Tegan and/or Sara, why aren’t you just giving me Walking With A Ghost?? Lil Yachty!! Why are you… why are you… Why are you doing any of this…? I… I’m not sure what exactly I want from you… But do that, please. Do Minnesotaagain, that’ll cheer me up. Sharon van Etten! I can’t wait to see where you take your sound and evolve your music on this new album! But, having said that, please make it exactly the same record as ‘Are We There’! You can, I dunno, add a few trap beats to a couple of songs and have track eight heavily influenced by Hardware, but make sure that, at the base level, it’s exactly the same as ‘Are We There’!! Give me those exact feels! Reach into my bloodied chest and tear out all of those emotions like you did in2015!!
‘Remind Me Tomorrow’… isn’t that record. It’s an incredible reimagining of what weight, muscles and undeniable gall bladders* her songwriting can achieve. Synths blast all over the place like the sounds of invading forces damaging the outer wall of the claustrophobic shelter she’s built herself to evade the apocalyptic terror of her mind outside. The first line of the album is ‘Sitting at the bar I told you everything/You said “Holy shit, you almost died!” and the following songs act as almost a flashback, telling the listener exactly what these near fatal experiences were. It’s an amazing album. Look above, it’s the eighth best album of the year. It was considered for number one, but holy shit, you’re about to see how hotly contested that accolade is this year. Like I said, every top ten album is merely different levels of essential. Buy them all, you cheap fuck.
Why are you so frequently an absolute dick? Why do you find doing bad things so appealing, yet find admitting and explaining these bad things to other people so disagreeable? Why do you avoid being nice and doing simple nice things for people? Oh, that’s right, it’s just the way you are, isn’t it?
And when did you realise that this was ‘the way you are’? When you were in your early 20s? When you turned 18 and realised that now you could legally buy alcohol there was really no need to grow as a person now you could just be drunk every waking hour*? Maybe when you were 13 you realised all the cool kids didn’t pay much attention to being nice and instead sniffed glue next to the school bins and talked about how amazing football was, so you realised that would be the direction to go in for the next twenty years or so. Maybe, when you were a six year old your mother rolled her eyes as she remarked how little you liked Brussels sprouts and challenging systematic injustices, so you subconsciously noted that was your personality. I wrote about the difficulties in truly changing yourself, or even slightly altering your perceived personality, in my Govier review, so, I dunno, maybe this post will just rehash those same ideas but just in a slightly less funny way. I mean, I don’t think it will, but there’s really no way of knowing at this point. It’s gonna be fun to work out though! MORE AFTER THE JUMP!! HIT THAT SUBSCRIBE BUTTON AS HARD AS YOU CAN!!! VALIDATE ME!!!! VAAAAAAAAAALIDAAAAAAATE MEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
You know what the extra ‘L’ in ‘SPELLLING’ stands for, right? Exactly. It stands for ‘loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool’. Yeah, I know, there’s a reason they call me ‘Lolacoaster Tycoon’. They probably throw a ‘banter’ pun in there as well, but to be honest all the good ones have already been taken and I don’t want to spend this entire ‘review’ trying to ‘remember’ what they said, you understand? ‘Eric Banterna’ has definitely been taken, hasn’t it? That’s a shame, as that one would have really suited me. The ‘Wine Debanter‘? No, that doesn’t quite work…
Just… gorgeous. ‘Bigness’ seems almost like it was intended as something of a wry, ironic name, as Mr Darling deals in ostensibly small scale music. His songs can initially seem so slight, polite, inoffensive and casual, all linked with a voice so hesitant and unassuming that it’s the volume and urgency that a fruit fly might adopt if it wanted to get the waiter’s attention at Costa Coffee to inquire as to what was taken its Hazelnut Praline & Cream Latte so long but didn’t want to make too much fuss. The tags that the album is identified with on Bandcampare alternative; bedroom pop; christchurch; new zealand; pop; indie; indie pop; Christchurch, which tells you one thing… Well no, it firsts lets you know that Pickle Darling is from Christchurch, New Zealand, as he’s so keen for you to realise that that he states it twice, but the second thing that the tags tell you is that ‘Bigness’ is a bit of a cheery, unassuming and- in the words of Helltown– ‘bedroom bullshit‘ kind of record. It’ll be fine. It’ll be cheery, a little bit twee but well meaningfully pleasant. Most of all though, it’ll be small.
Both ‘U.F.O.F’* and ‘Two Hands’ are fantastic albums. Certainly, nobody has had two albums in the Necessary Evil top 20 before, and it’s certainly to be commended how an artist can release two separate albums of general quality as these two blasts of mana. But let’s temper our explosive ejaculations just a bit, yeah? The two albums last a total of 82 minutes (perhaps. I honestly don’t trust my own maths). Lupe Fiasco’s criminally underappreciated ‘DROGAS WAVE‘ was NINETY EIGHT fucking MINUTES- because Lupe is mildly insane- and was far better than either of these records. There are twenty two tracks spread across these two records. Pffff! ‘DROGAS WAVE‘ has twenty four tracks! And that was 24 tracks narrating the story of the transatlantic slave trade and making it work as an analogy for rebirth and second chances. What’s that, Big Thief? Woozy Impressionism of banal domestic themes? You’re gonna push that for twenty two tracks? Alright. Ha! You thought I wouldn’t have the chance to talk about Lupe Fiasco this year!
(*Unidentified Flying Object Fuck. I mean… I assume… It doesn’t say on its Wikipedia page, so I’m out of ideas**)
(**it stands for friend! Unidentified Flying Object Friend!! Dudes, that’s so lame! I’m just saying, if I was 10 years old, I’d call it ‘totally gay’. Luckily, I’m older and wiser and fatter and gayer these days, so I understand the offensive connotations of referring to something as ‘gay’ in the pejorative sense. That’s why I am not saying that calling your album ‘Unidentified Flying Object Friend’ is ‘really gay’. So it’s not. But it totally is, do you understand?)
On ‘CURSEBREAKER X’*, Equip step shit up massively. Previously, the less forgiving may have accused them of being more gimmick than legitimate artist. Every album, like 2018’s ‘Synthetic Core 88‘, came with the hook that it was the soundtrack to a video game that existed nowhere but inside Equip’s imagination. This inspired some incredible music, but for many the conceit would be far too ‘cute’ and even ‘eye rollingly hipster’ to bridge that gap between ‘concept you might appreciate’ and ‘music you unreservedly love’. ‘CURSEBREAKER X’ doesn’t just bridge that gap, it clears it in a single bound by casting a +50 COMPOSITIONS spell and fills the cavern beneath it with buffed power ups as it flies over. Equip breaks the game with WWE 2K20 level glitches that make it unplayable, because they’re playing something else entirely with ‘CURSEBREAKER X’.
(*we’ve seen far too many artists recently, from awakebutstillinbed to Ariana Grande to repeat offender american poetry club, show such a flagrant disregard for proper capitalisation that I’m pleased to see Jamila Woods, Michael Kiwanuka and now Equip have fought against this by, if anything, overcapitalising their records. I’m pleased to officially announce 2019 as The Year We Won Our Capital Back)
I absolutely adore Hannah Cohen. I would go as far as saying I love her. As an artist, of course, I think she’s amazingly talented and has that certain something special that you can’t quite put your finger on. She may well be a fucking nightmare as a person. Maybe she spends half the time complaining about how dumb people are for watching Love Island, and the other half actually watching Love Island “Just to see how shit it is”. Maybe she’s a staunch believer in aromatherapy and whenever you bring up the questionable science behind it she simply states that there’s “A lot we don’t know about the world”. Maybe she prefers Jurassic Park 2 to Jurassic Park. I mean, it’s not a bad film, don’t get me wrong, but come on! Maybe she hates feminism because she “doesn’t hate men”, which leads to so many circular arguments that you know it’s a guaranteed evening wasted if you bring it up so have learned not to. Maybe, when she rides the bus on her own, she sits on the seat next to the aisle and leaves an empty seat next to the window just to make sure nobody sits next to her. Do you know these people?? Worse than fucking Hitler. Maybe- in fact, statistically, very probably– Ms Cohen is the absolute worse person in the world, that doesn’t matter, it’s the artist that I love.
‘Pleasure Boy‘ was all kinds of amazing. One of the best albums of
What’s your favourite female personality? By my count, you’ve got a choice between two of them.
We should all be extremely proud of ourselves as a society for getting to this many. Aren’t we amazing? There’s really no need for you to do anything worthwhile, you live in a society that’s been extremely kind to certain groups of people. No, don’t give any money to charity (you actually once read that article that said that giving money to charity was somehow absolutely the worst thing you could possibly do. You can’t remember the exact reasoning, something to do with Bono having glaucoma, but it was very convincing) just by existing in a wonderful society that gives people things you’ve already donated the most precious gift of all. Anyway. isn’t paying tax kind of like giving to charity? You did plenty of that in your early 20s before Uncle Ted told you about equity swaps. Just lie back and feel rightfully smug at all the amazing things society is doing that you’re not loudly objecting to most days. Did you hear that black people were allowed to dance in Oklahomanow? You did that! Or at least, you didn’t stop it!
If this blog has one true aim, then it’s to introduce and promote new…
Well… no, actually, if this blog has one true aim then it’s to extensively psychoanalyse myself and admit my private shame into what I believe to be essentially ‘The Void’, all under the laughable pretense of ‘reviewing music’. Ha! I haven’t done any ‘music reviews’ since I was highly scathing as a twelve/six year old of the 1996 Dodgy album ‘Free Peace Sweet‘. Three piece suite! Now I get it! Sorry, Dodgy, that review was unnecessarily harsh. Reappraisal: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
OK, but if this blog had a secondary aim, then it’s to introduce and promote new artists to…
No, the secondary aim is just an excuse to talk about Manic Street Preachers as much as possible, isn’t it? With ‘Official Prince Chat’ sprinkled on the side as garnish. I might just rename the blog to ‘Artists I Liked When I Was a Kid, At Length (While I Wait for the Next Hotelier Album)’. Dot WordPress dot com.
“If it had a third purpose it’d be […] no actually it’d be [BANTER]. In that case the fourth purpose would be […] actually, it’d probably be [STONE COLD MEGALOLZ]. But the fifth purpose would definitely be… (repeat)”