Archive | September, 2014

Lykke Li – I Never Learn & Live at the Fox Theater (21/9/2014)

24 Sep

I’ve been listening a lot to the new Lykke Li album I Never Learn and also happened to have tickets to her concert last Sunday, so in the standard hyper-efficient Top Five Records manner, here is both the album and concert review.

I Never Learn

It has been a while since I’ve heard an album as dedicated to ballads as this one. I Never Learn is not just a collection of true pop ballads, it is a collection of true pop ballads about a break-up. It is also an excellent one, if a little repetitive.

Firstly, Lykke Li’s voice is consistently amazing. It is rich, human and above all communicative. She ranges from the more hazy “Just Like A Dream” to the frighteningly destructive “Gunshot” with ease. Her ballads are powerful and personal things. The entire album blames herself for the failure of the relationship and mines that vein deeply.

There lies my major complaint with the album though, it falls a little too far into sameness. It’s not precisely one-note, the slow “Love Me Like I’m Not Made Of Stone” is followed immediately by the anthemic “Never Going To Love Again”, but the album does blend together. There are songs that stand out, the aforementioned “Gunshot” and “No Rest For The Wicked” are excellent, but too much of the rest feels undifferentiated.

Nevertheless, this is a beautiful set of ballads and an excellent album. The relationship the album is drawn from may have ended, but with music like this her listeners at least will never let her go.

Live at the Fox Theater (21/9/2014)

Mapei

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The show was opened by Mapei, a Swedish genre-bending pop artist. Her set was inconsistent, but fun despite that. Her sound is rooted in pop but mixes in hip-hop and R&B and even has her occasionally rapping. Her debut album Hey Hey has just released and is definitely worth checking out.

Lykke Li

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Lykke Li herself was a pleasure to see. As with her records, her voice served her beautifully. She did not restrict herself to just her latest album and that added some welcome variance. Her sound has shifted a fair bit over the years and hearing them all made for an interesting concert. Besides, it was fun to hear her hits. Personally, “Little Bit” was the standout moment of the concert for me, but “No Rest for the Wicked” was also really good and her cover of The Boss’ “I’m On Fire” was exceptional.

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Additionally, her stage presence was amazing. She was frankly flirtatious during the entire thing, and she did it wonderfully. It was like watching her at prom, she felt young and happy. Her manner did a huge amount for the show. When the performer is clearly enjoying herself and feels at ease, it’s hard not to follow suit.

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This was a great show and it had everything that I look for, varied and great music with improvisation and done with personality to boot.

@murthynikhil

Bombay Bicycle Club: So Long, See You Tomorrow

13 Sep

The story of this album is that frontman Jack Steadman wrote it while traveling in India, Turkey and Japan. Travel is a tried and true method for innovation. “Blue Rondo à la Turk” for instance is a fascinating look into what Jazz could have been were it Turkish. So Long, See You Tomorrow however, has only made the tiniest of nods to its journeys. This is an acceptable alternative rock album, but not a particularly interesting one.

There is a lot of blandness in alternative rock. You see one generic group of young men follow another and they all seem and sound the same. There are a few things to distinguish this from the rest, “Eyes Off You” plinks its way through a piano backing and “Overdone” stacks layers and continually flips them back and forth.

You know what though? This review feels pointless. This is just another alternative rock album in a world that has too many. There is nothing here that offends and nothing that innovates. I’ve heard every sound it has to present too many times before. If you want yet another acceptable indie rock album then this is as good as any other. The only problem is how stagnant you’d have become.

@murthynikhil

FKA Twigs: LP1

7 Sep

LP1 is a complex album. It’s justified, people are complex beings and LP1 is about people. There’s been a lot of Weeknd-esque R&B through a haze of drugs and sex out recently, but this is an album that not only stands out but raises the bar substantially.

FKA twigs has her weak points lyrically, but there are not that many and the themes she covers more than makes up for it. “Lights On” is a beautiful discussion of vulnerability in relationships and “Give Up” is frightening in it’s quiet dominance. There are weak points here as well. “Numbers” for instance, is well covered ground. However, as a whole, they are powerful. “Kicks” and “Hours” are subtle, scary looks at how dependent one can get on a partner.

The sound is quite as clever. Always ephemeral and sensuous, it is as responsible for setting emotion as the lyrics. The lush production frames her voice beautifully and is surprisingly accessible for an album this intelligent.

This is an astoundingly coherent debut album and quite as inventive as one could hope. The relationships of her album may all be broken, but she has mastered one key part for her relationship with her listeners. She left us wanting more.

@murthynikhil

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