You All Knew This Was Coming [UPDATED]

This blog has never been the place for timely, contemporary and up to the minute fresh takes. In normal circumstances, if something notable happens during the year I simply put it aside in that special part of my brain that I hope to access around December, then at the end of the year I rant about it in a blog post about my 25th best album of the year, or whatever, when every other person in the world has long stopped caring about it. Or, most likely, I’ll simply forget all about it and instead go off on a tangent about rape fantasies or utter fucking nonsense. It was all we wanted. All we needed. We were happy.

Well, COVID-19 got me doing all sorts of crazy shit that I’ve never done before- last Tuesday I ate an unsalted pistachio*- so I guess I may as well add to the insanity by commenting on something that only just happened this last week. Partly this is because a particularly obnoxious crow outside my window has woken me up at two thirty in the morning, like I’m a 15th century wheelwright working in the tower of his master’s monastery or some shit, but partly because Lana Del Rey’s 21st May Instagram post really got under my skin. Yeah, mostly the former. Sniff, sniff, what’s that smell? Oh yeah! Precious motherfucking content!!

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Necessary Evil 2019 (72-65)

72 Kanye West: Yandhi

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You know what? I’ve got a funny feeling that this might not be my last chance to talk about him before this list is done, so I’m wary of squeezing out all my Kanye Juice before the real party starts. ‘Yandhi’ was the album that he was going to release as his follow up to last year’s ‘Ye‘ (I’m sorry, haterz/liberals, but ‘Ye’ was a pretty fine album, as were most of the eighty four records he released last year, let’s not let our reactions to his general behavior colour the history), but then it was delayed, then cancelled, then briefly revived with Ashton Kutcher playing the role of Kanye West, then delayed, then its name was changed to ‘Spunk Muffin and the Dudes With Attitude’, then it was cancelled again, then it was changed to ‘Jesus Is King’, then it was revealed that it wasn’t actually a name change but a completely separate record, then that record was delayed, then it was delayed again, until, finally, it was released, and Yandhi was cancelled, only briefly being released (seriously) as ringtones. Quite straightforward as Kanye West album launches go, really. I actually only sought out ‘Yandhi’ because I assumed it would contain intriguing scrappy demos of whatever tracks Kanye was working on for his next record (which at that point had been delayed so many times I assumed this would be the closest we’d get to a Kanye album this year), but it’s shocking to hear quite how complete a lot of songs on here are, and how realised many ideas are. New Body in particular sounds less than a tweak away from being a hit single, Nicki Minaj feature and all. Later, it was shocking how few of the songs and ideas on ‘Yandhi’ made it to ‘Jesus is King’. Like, pretty much none of it. Nicki Minaj? She’s gone. Hey, Kanye, maybe stay focused on one thing for more than three minutes? Might result in better albums? Perhaps I’ll get to debate this further later.

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18 Zeal and Ardor: Stranger Fruit

Mmmmmmmmmmlet’s talk about cultural appropriation.

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Zeal and Ardor are one of my favourite bands. In fact, I’d go as far as calling them my favourite Swiss band. They combine black metal with ‘negro spirituals’, the bracing gospel music sung by the black slaves in the early 19th century. What’s your initial reaction to hearing that? Are you OK with it? Are you straight up against it? Do you think that merely the fact that the band are Swiss makes any use of music born from American cruelties automatically cultural appropriation? Do you want to fnd out a little more about the band before deciding your reaction? Are you immediately against it because you assume the band is white?

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39 Ariana Grande: Sweetener

“Once I have you, I will never let you, never let you”

I feel quite sorry for Ariana Grande. ‘Sweetener’ is an absolutely brilliant album, and the jokes about my ‘TDE’ (Tiny Di… yeah, you got that joke, didn’t you?) would write themselves. It sees Grande finally locate an identity for herself, and honestly contains some of the best and most subtly experimental mainstream pop music released this year. I’m just going to use this review to talk about Hejjy again though. First ISIS, now this: poor girl just can’t catch a break.

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Buckle up!

Continue reading “39 Ariana Grande: Sweetener”