Archive | 5:19 pm

Burna Boy – African Giant

23 Dec

This is undoubtedly the catchiest album that I’ve heard all year. Burna Boy just has that ear for it that you cannot replicate. This is an album that puts you in undeniable motion.

The combination of African sounds and the Nigerian patois that run through it mix cleanly with the just-as-prominent modern pop and rap sounds to make something at once of the future and deeply connected to its roots.

In particular, “Anybody” and “Wetin Man Go Do” pull all of the pieces together perfectly. It’s a sound that’s excitingly novel in all that it brings to the table and again, it’s just very catchy.

It’s a fun album. “Killin Dem” is compulsive and “Omo” is infectious. This is, more than anything, the reason to try it out. “Secret” has the kind of chorus that sticks in your ears long after you’ve pressed pause.

It is hopefully also the sign of Burna Boy’s emergence. This is an album with impressive features. Unfortunately, neither Future nor YG show up that well. Both are just out of place on this and that dissonance is hard to break from. Jorja Smith is excellent though. “Gum Body” has a great verse from her as well as a stand-out chorus and an absolutely wonderful little sax lick in the middle. Similarly, “Secret” has a fantastic chorus and the features help an already great track stand out.

The album does lose pace somewhere around the middle and a few sounds drag for too long, but this is still the most enjoyable album that I’ve heard all year. Also, it has a fascinating aside about colonialism in Nigeria and that kind of thing automatically bumps an album up a rung.

Fontaines D.C. – Dogrel

23 Dec

Fontaines D.C. are a punk band from Dublin, Ireland, whose five members met over a common love for Irish poets. On their debut album, Dogrel, every piece of that one-sentence biography rings loud, clear and omnipresent.

Dogrel does for Dublin what the Arctic Monkeys’ debut did for Sheffield: pulling back the curtain for a laddish, working-class look at a beloved hometown. Run through Dogrel from top to bottom, and you almost feel as though you’re right there in Dublin with the boys.  

There are so many great elements to the album that it’s frankly unbelievable to think that this is a debut. The most striking element is, of course, the high-energy instruments. Fontaines D.C. never take more than a few seconds to catch the listener’s attention, whether it’s the driving riffs on “Sha Sha Sha” or the wall-of-bass on “Hurricane Laughter”.

Another stand-out element is singer Grian Chatten’s vocals, blaring out blustering one-liners (“My childhood was small / Oh, but I’m gonna be big!”) in an unmistakable, irreverent and totally unapologetic Irish accent. In many songs, it’s this phrasing itself that takes center-stage. “If you’re a Rock Star, Porn Star, Superstar / Doesn’t matter what you are, get yourself a good car, get outta here,” Chatten proclaims on “Boys in the Better Land” – every word pronounced more authentically Irish than anything you’ve ever heard.

And of course, there’s the matter of the lyrics themselves – slice-of-life, working-class beat poetry about Dublin life. On “Liberty Belle”: “You know I love that violence that you get around here / That kind of ready-steady violence, that violent ‘How do you do?’”. On “Too Real”: “The winter evening settles down, the bruised and beat up open sky, six o’clock / The city in its final dress, and now a gusty shower wraps the grimy scraps”. With Dogrel, the lads tip their hats to Yeats, Joyce et al in talking about their city – all set to cheeky punk rock. (Unsurprisingly, the album takes its name from doggerel, a jagged style of spoken-word poetry.)

Finally – and this is the most impressive one – the greatest part of Dogrel is that it is chock-full of hits from top to bottom. There are honestly decades-old bands that haven’t mastered the ability to combine authenticity, killer tunes and timeless lyrics into one package, and Fontaines D.C. did it on their first try.

Dogrel is perhaps the best debut of the year, and we highly recommend you give it a listen.

Best tracks: “Big”, “Boys in the Better Land”, “Sha Sha Sha”

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