Fall album preview
Kanye West and Phil Collins duke it out for your dollars and downloads.
We love the fall. The sun stops trying to melt our faces. Movies begin to treat audiences as if they’re literate. Titillating contact sports wipe the sleep of baseball and golf from our eyes. And, of course, big albums come out at a much greater clip. As we looked over the lineup, several intriguing chart battles emerged. We broke them down by category.
In the video for “Ride,” the first single from her upcoming fourth, Basic Instinct (October 5), Ciara swings hard for a “Single Ladies” moment. The athletic Atlantan grinds so aggressively, you’d think she was cracking peppercorns with her groin. More likely, the perennial “Next Beyoncé” is growing desperate. Packing far more personality and punch lines is the suddenly ubiquitous Nicki Minaj on Pink Friday (November 23). With bubblegum wigs and a ba-da-boom body, the Lil Wayne protégé is more than a token female MC on his Young Money label. She might be the most lovable.
Brilliant percussionist Phil Collins (you heard us) pays homage to his childhood idols with Going Back (September 28), an exacting re-creation of golden Motown and Stax hits. There will be no synthetic drums coming in the air tonight, just warm horns and Collins’s surprisingly boyish tenor. It’s a charming labor of love, not trend surfing. That said, its rose-tinted nostalgia fails to pack the emotional punch of John Legend & The Roots’ Wake Up! (September 21). The butter-smooth Ivy League alum teams with Jimmy Fallon’s sharp Late Night players for a run through deep protest cuts, like Chicago native Donny Hathaway’s “Little Ghetto Boy.”
Taking a well-needed break from retro soul are Mark Ronson and his new collective the Business Intl. The celebrity DJ cobbled together vintage synths and an impressive Rolodex for the eclectic Record Collection (September 28). The upbeat mishmash brings together Ghostface Killah, Boy George, D’Angelo, Simon LeBon and the London Gay Men’s Chorus. Finally. Similarly, blue-eyed playboy Bryan Ferry bids for a comeback with Olympia (October 26), calling in favors from former Roxy Music bandmates (including Brian Eno), as well as Flea, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, David Gilmour, Scissor Sisters and Nile Rodgers. Kate Moss even posed for the artwork. He has a way with models.
Somewhat-local trio Salem pioneered the silly microgenre du jour known as “witch-house.” King Night (September 28) encapsulates the not-so-spooky movement and comes off like a Dirty South rapper after too much cough syrup, trying to make a goth record. Equally buzzed about is the return of No Age. The L.A. neogrunge duo whips up a more polished shoegazing and speaker-blowing racket on Everything in Between (September 28).
When not furiously defecated upon by pigeons, newly crowned arena rulers Kings of Leon found time this summer to finish up Come Around Sundown (October 19), a laid-back fifth album that still shoots for the heartland. The country strummer “Southbound” and bleacher-reaching “Immortals” are sure hits for those still suckin’ on chili dogs outside the Tastee Freez. Temper expectations for Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy (November 23). Yes, the übercool French duo wears amazing robot suits and rarely graces us with its genre-defining electro bangers, but remember this is a film score—on Walt Disney records.
Will the apprentice defeat the master? In short, hell no. Kid Cudi has a long way to go before he can even dream of usurping a dinged-up Kanye West. Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager (October 26), Cudi’s clunky sophomore LP, finds the Cleveland fleer (it’s not just LeBron, Ohio) roughly bellowing over moody keyboard soundscapes and bluesy loops. He’s the only one still enamored with 808s & Heartbreak. Kanye has clearly moved on from his emo crooning with an as-yet-untitled rap album (November 16), packing songs like “Mama’s Boyfriend” and “See Me Now” with soul samples, comical boasting, personal narratives and the n-word. If it’s half as bonkers as his new Twitter feed, it’ll be genius.