Albums of the week: 5 records overshadowed by Kanye last week
The excitement has now passed for the new Kanye West album. So let's take a look back at some great albums that went overlooked last week in Yeezusmania.
The name of Kanye West's new daughter stole the spotlight from Yeezy's other screaming child, his new LP. That speaks to both the greater celebrity of his baby mama and the underwhelming nature of his sixth album. Yeezus proved to be an ugly, confused album for boys. A week later, the disappoiningly stupid lyrics and malformed beats leave a bad taste in the mouth.
Whether you loved it or hated it, Yeezus was the elephant in the room. Which unfortunately means a handful of good records got lost in the shadow of Kanye hype. Here are five worthy records to investigate.
The album cover just screams Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music. The pink suit. The cool, chilly nonchalance. What was the last Bryan Ferry solo album called again? Oh, right, Olympia. This Canadian synth-pop act has brightened up—a bit—on it sophomore album. It has ditched the gothic tones for something more chic, something that feels like Florence Welch hanging with Heaven 17. What could be modern sound furniture in lesser hands here bleeds emotion. Singer Katie Stelmanis's hot operatic warble melts the ice-hotel architecture of the pulsing keyboards and electric rhythms.
Empire of the Sun Ice on the Dune
Bleach away your cynicism. With the dippy, giddy sci-fi joy of Ice on the Dune, the extravagant electro-pop Aussies in Empire of the Sun have positioned themselves as the Tears for Fears of EDM. There's a psychedelic flourish to the club-minded kaleidoscopes. Don't try to gauge the level of their sincerity. Who cares? Give in to the falsettos and baroque, Daft Punkian synth runs of "Celebrate" and "Surround Sound." MGMT fell down the rabbit's hole. Somebody has to pick up the LSDisco shtick.
Mac Miller Watching Movies with the Sound Off
On his first studio album, Miller struck me as a typical funny suburban burn-out with a deep collection of good records and glass bongs. The 21-year-old's sophomore album doesn't shake the notion of a smart-ass stoner with scholastic knowledge of hip-hop. It dives deeper. It's a sticky, heady record dense with couch-rat anecdotes and blazed beats. Look, the bulk of the Watching Movies production budget clearly went to weed. Chichi producers like Flying Lotus, Clams Casino and Chuck Inglish (of the Cool Kids) flips unexpected samples of Black Moth Super Rainbow, Tune-Yards and the xx. Miller has made the stoner epic of the year and, far more surprisingly, the closest thing to De La days of the early '90s.
Primal Scream More Light
Over three decades, the British rock elder, largely the brainchild of Bobby Gillespie, has gone from paisley hippie jangles to ecstasy-gobbling house to Stonesian cock shaking to hard krautrock and back again. More Light somehow blends it all together, with bursts of both Tattoo You swagger and free-jazz freakouts. A rotating cast has kept the band fresh rather than signal the frontman's desperation to carry onward. With the departure of bassist Mani (who's off making millions with the Stone Roses), the rhythm section takes on a more brutish simplicity, which pins down the swirling strings, guitars, saxophones and whatnot into driving rock & roll. At times, Gillespie can come off as a preacher in Whole Foods, but bless the guy for still giving a shit and shaking hit fist. How is it a 51-year-old cares about the future, about culture, about politics, while young garage bands continue to write songs about beer?
Sigur Rós Kveikur
Not quite the heavy, blustery record we expected, Kveikur at least begins on an aggressive note. I'm sure the Icelanders were tired of being compared to fucking elves in every review. "Elves? We'll give you TROLLS!" Trimmed to a trio, the band has simplified and relied more on electronic textures. What results is its most immediate and visceral album yet. It's more suitable for festival stages and big theater gigs, though the gorgeous subtleties of last year's Valtari might cut deeper.