Lord Huron - Vide Noir
In French, Vide Noir translates to ‘black void’, a perfect summary of the third album by the wild-western fantasy meets indie band group. A couple of the tracks appear aggressive, while most mourn the loss of a woman who appears to have chosen the black void of some sort of addiction rather then the embrace of her love. The opening, Lost in Space and Time, sets this journey towards finding this ‘emerald star’. And while we see some character development, I would enjoyed a bit more detail on the world that Lord Huron has created. Who is their main character? What is the world around him like? Perhaps the point of the album is to detail that after a breakup with such an adored one, everything is dark and empty.
J. Cole - K.O.D.
I hopped into a truck with my friend Christian and we had a hour to kill for a ride. “Have you heard the new J. Cole album?” He asked, it only being a day after the album had dropped. I said no and he proceeded to play the entire album through. I like J. Cole, having been fans of his earlier work, if not appreciating it. But I was happy to hear that instead of some downtrodden material, J. Cole had come full aggressive, with loud music constructed in multi-dimensions and lyrics covering addiction, heartbreak and even an outro that on the surface is a diss, but comes across as a greater message for any musician. In fact, the outro brings up a great question about black entertainers with white audiences: They wanna be black and think your song is how it feels. Talk about a different sort of addiction.
Kimbra - Primal Heart
I enjoyed Kimbra’s third studio album, although it didn’t have the full fledged punch of her second album, The Golden Hour. I wonder if this is due to Primal Heart’s nature to lean towards commercial pop. A release like this could have done her wonders in 2014 following the success of ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’, but this feels like a continuation off previous material then anything else. There are some excellent songs (The Good War, Like They Do on the TV, Lightyears, ) songs you definitely should consider adding to your playlists. Maybe this album will grow on me, but something is leaving me waiting for her next album cycle.
The opening sets Susanne up for some comparisons with the moon, the crow, the shark and the earth, all in a spiritual mantra of her being. It's an excellent and slightly eerie opening to the album, setting up the expectations there of. The strongest lyric, is verse 4: "I’m as empty as the Earth/An insignificant birth/Stardust in a universe/That is all that I am worth"
My favorite track of the album, the lyrics are poignant and fresh, the slide guitar sounds gorgeous and the build-up and execution is second-par to none. Susanne presents a lot of darkness, but in a way this song leans into the light. The morality and chaos around her seems to come to a pause in this song. I honestly want to quote the lyrics to the entire song, BUT if I'm forced to pick only one, it has to be the opening: "Do you believe in reincarnation?/'Cause I thought I saw your soul / Flashing and dancing on the horizon /Shades of jade and emerald."
#3: good luck, bad luck
Another top selection, the jazz which inspires the album is pretty clear now in this track which sounds like something you might hear in a delicious hole in the wall with strong cheap drinks and the best live music in the city. The binaries exposed on this track highlight the back and forth Susanne experiences with her man as dictated by 'good luck'/'bad luck', 'double trouble', 'empty / full'. My favorite lyric on this one has to be this beautifully written line, "Freeloader...wisdom from the books he never read"
#4: the sound of war
Another favorite of mine, this track clearly demonstrates the sound of war with the medieval guitar intro and the drones' signals at the end into the ethereal nothingness of a post apocalyptic nightmare which she has created. By the end of the track, you're left with some George Orwellian/Wells nightmare especially with her lyrical prowess, "Leave all that you were/ 'Cause you won’t need it where/You are going tonight"
#5: music for people in trouble
This song is more of a spoken poem over some glitches and minimalism, focusing on the center core of the album. The thesis is wrapped into the poem which divides the album in two layers. Favorite line has to be the ending, "We don't do life, we don't choose life, life does us."
#6: bedtime story
Another favorite, Susanne combines moody underground jazz to paint to question the mute problematics of a decaying (or decayed) relationship. There's a gem of lyrics here, my favorite being, "I'll think about the time you reassured me you were mine/
Oh, what is love but a frail little dreamcatcher?"
The lead single for the project, and no doubt the most uplifting and radio-friendly of the bunch (although both descriptors seem far from accurate on this track). Built with a booming chorus which borderlines on gospel music, the piano which holds the track evolves into new folk. Favorite lyric on this one is the one she says with such hummingbird melancholy, "You're a teasing little twister and/They're dancers in the dark."
#8: no one believes in love anymore
A solemn piano ballad that makes me sad even when I'm the most happy. You can tell Susanne has been hurt as she repeats lines with such factual brokenness that you certainly believe that love is over and gone. Among the lyrics, my favorite line is "We’ll all get there soon, looking up at the Moon." I can't help but feel that line is a warning of sorts of humanity's slow loss of love.
#9: The golden age
Another gem, this spacious track harbors an ABBA-like ballad chorus designed and wrapped in sheer celestial wonder. The lyrics are miminal, but the production is fantastic. If there's one song that bridges her past electronics, it has to be this one. The chorus is rather epic, building up to a climax before falling into descent: "It beats louder and louder and longer and longer/All the way to the border/And back to when I was young and out of my mind."
#10: Mountaineers - featuring josh grant
One of my favorite songs of 2017, (#10), Mountaineers is a sheer colossal giant which is almost indescribable. The opening with Josh Grant sounds like a Gregorian Choir and pulses forward with cosmic sensibility. In the middle, Susanne and Josh trade places, as the song begins to grow and sparkle with timelessness before the ending's gospel and organ shine through. Another oil metaphor is used, both for romantic and enviornment connections ("Swimming in the soil of your wasted oil" is a gem of a line). but the ending brings the record to an all-time high, as Susanne clarifies that people in trouble are simply troubled because tis is life. "What we are, what we want, it will never change."
So one thing to know about me is that I'm an absolute sucker for lists, top tens, you name it! This week I'm dishing out my Top Ten tracks from Florence and the Machine to prep for (RUMOR/SPOILER: their upcoming album 'High As Hope' to come this summer).
#1: queen of peace
This song is everything I love about this band, the orchestra, the timeless feeling of both new and old, the story and narrative, the production, an explosive chorus, pure emotion...it goes to show you that with each new album, this band has the possibility to top their previous efforts.
I keep saying "I write" but don't share anything. So here we go, let's share.