It is unbelievably easy to be a fan of CHVRCHES (pronounced cha-ver-chiz) partly because they’ve spent the past decade making the same song over and over again. Was this a very rude statement? Yes, but it was said out of pure love. I think CHVRCHES has a very specific style of synth-pop that they’ve perfected to such an extent that they’ve made a career out of it. Once again, this isn’t a criticism. I am personally amazed at their consistency and the how each song is so subtly different that you can’t fully replace one with the other. And to their credit, rather than stagnating, I think they’ve been getting better.
…Now, you may be asking yourselves why wasn’t there a post on Friday. Well, this is Friday’s post. Why is it on a Monday?
Let’s talk about U.S. Girls!
U.S. Girls made nine albums. NINE ALBUMS! I’ve just heard about Meg Remy, the head of the project, a couple of months ago, how long was she around? The answer is 2008. It took ten years to even listen to a single thing she has done. I just started high school in 2008! She doesn’t even live in the U.S. anymore, but if you’ve been using the band name for that long, you might as well keep it. In all seriousness, there are quite a few people who have made many albums before they reached any sort of attention outside of their respective niches, and I will possibly talk about one of them in the near future. In any case, I do hope she gets more attention as her latest album, In a Poem Unlimited, is fantastic. It’s a combination of a lot of different sounds ranging from noise-pop, art rock, art pop, art art, I don’t know. It’s a fascinating style that she uses…it’s a shame that the song that I fell in love with is not actually all that drastically unusual.
Jack White? Why do I keep coming back to you? We had our fling and it was good. With your solo debut, you took me to the world of bluesy folk rock and it was my jam. I listened to Blunderbuss for months on end. Then I tried listening to your White Stripes backlog and..didn’t work for me. Then Lazaretto came out and I thought it was average. It felt like an attempt at reliving Blunderbuss but without the same passion and, at the same time, Jack White was trying to step back into White Stripes territory. It just felt unsatisfying for me so I felt convinced that as much as I consider White to be a talented musician, there was no way that I would be entranced by him again. But here I am with-
OVER AND OVER
Goodness me, this song has a guitar riff that will live in your ears for years. Over and Over and Over is Jack White at his best. He’s got his guitar, a range of backing vocalist who seem absolutely thrilled to be here, and the occasional asides to play distorted sounds that I couldn’t possibly identify. Yes, it’s nowhere near the folk rock that I fell in love with, but it doesn’t matter to me. Jack White didn’t need to make music from a genre I liked. He just needed to make music that was made up of the passion and skill that he’s known for.
Twentytwo in Blue is comfort food for my soul, an album so difficult for me to dislike and so easy for me to listen to that I can keep playing the album non-stop and never feel tired of it. For my listening pleasure, that’s great. For a blog about specific songs, it’s not so great. It’s hard to talk about one song from Sunflower Bean’s sophomore album without talking about the rest. So, without further delay, let’s talk about the album as a whole before I recommend any specific song.
Their album is a clear love letter to rock music of the past but how far in the past really depends on the song. Most of the time, Sunflower Bean resembles Fleetwood Mac but occasionally jumps to garage rock and more modern sounds. I don’t use the connection to Fleetwood Mac lightly. “I Was a Fool” feels designed to have Stevie Nicks interrupt the lyrics and talk about how thunder only happens when it’s raining. Fortunately, I actually quite like Fleetwood Mac.
Prospects of preparing new content for this site has been hit or miss. Mostly miss, because it’s been 3 months and nothing has been posted. Fear not! We do have many plans in mind, but most of them will take a while.
That being said, I’ve missed talking about music. I have listened to so much these past few months and the only pleasure I had of talking about it was with my fellow Colorful Monsters cohorts. I think it’s unfair to keep all our thoughts to ourselves so I’m bringing back written posts to Colorful Monsters. These won’t be reviews – I’m actually not a huge fan of critiquing music, especially if it’s from bands that are working to build themselves up. Instead, I want to talk about music that I like and love, with posts scheduled for Mondays and Fridays until I run out of music to talk about. This will be highly unlikely as the only limit to my song recommendations is that they have to be songs I’ve listened to this year, with original release dates being less important.
An LGBT indie folk rock singer whose previous touring experience includes opening for Laura Marling? Marika Hackman’s resume is enticing, to say the least, as the combination is incredibly unexpected and I am thoroughly pleased to have the opportunity to dive in and see what she has to offer. Thankfully, her new album I’m Not Your Man, mostly succeeds in matching the expectations made simply by the premise. It’s a fun, incredibly witty expedition into the mindset of Hackman and her unconventional take on life.
It’s been a dramatic couple of years for Halsey. After releasing her debut album Badlands in 2015, she received mild attention that soon skyrocketed alongside her collaboration with The Chainsmokers on the massively successful “Closer.” Now, she makes a return with hopeless fountain kingdom, an album that differs greatly from Badlands in terms of a darker tone and composition, but also feels like a natural evolution. It’s comforting to know that she didn’t take any cues from her fellow collaborator, because Halsey thrives on smart lyrics coming from personal experiences. In fact, Halsey’s album is a lot more interesting than what The Chainsmokers has to offer…sometimes.
“The Prologue” is an unnecessary detriment to the entire perception of the album. It’s a mostly spoken word segment that uproots lines from ‘The Prologue’ in Romeo and Juliet, and then ends with Halsey’s interpretation of the story; but to be inherently critical, you can listen to the entire album and not get that impression whatsoever. Prologues prepare listeners for a great epic, but looking at the album that way sets the expectations too high. I highly recommend skipping this song and listening to the rest.
“100 Letters” is Halsey at her finest, emphasizing the power of feminism and being your own person. A real or metaphorical King Midas, who turns everything to gold with a single touch, vies for Halsey to be touched by him. King Midas comes off as above her, putting her down by explaining why she doesn’t “have any friends,” but Halsey bites back with “I find myself alone at night unless I’m having sex.” She’s “not something to butter up and taste when you get bored,” fighting back Midas’ touch and accusing him of greed, gluttony, and lust. It’s a really well thought out song.
It’s important to talk about the lyrics because they are what really makes Halsey stand out among all the other semi-pop acts. She can be fairly clever, like in “Eyes Closed.” “Now if I keep my eyes closed, he looks just like you,” should be a really bad line, but it’s a loaded line about Halsey’s character sleeping with different people to get the same thrill as the one that left. When it’s not clever, it’s a subtle introspection into Halsey’s personality, like in “Alone” where her popularity is reaching such a high that she can’t have personal connections with many people. When she says “She asked if I recognized and I told her I might,” it signifies how aware Halsey for how out of control the situation is, even if she’s still letting it all happen.
“Devil In Me” doesn’t really work. There is too much of a crutch on metaphor that reaches points of obtuseness. When it’s not obtuse, it’s too simple, with a repetitive chorus and a bare-boned beat in the background that tries to be atmospheric but doesn’t have much emotional weight. In fact, seeing the title basically describes everything that needs to be known about the song.
“Devil In Me” signifies one of the largest issues with the album. When the lyrics aren’t amazing, the album reaches a state of sheer mediocrity. Halsey is not a bad singer, but she’s not a powerhouse and the production doesn’t do much to support her. Songs like “Sorry” are fine, but it’s a simple piano ballad with very little to add other than the occasional fun lyric.
hopeless fountain kingdom would be a good album if it was more consistent. It hits high at the very beginning and then grows tedious over the course. The first set of songs are a joy to listen to, but after a while, the lyrics grow tired, the music grows tired, and then I get tired. She just doesn’t do enough in this album to keep the interest lasting, and there’s enough evidence that she can since Badlands is a joy to listen to from start to finish. It’s such a shame because Halsey has a talent for lyrics that may not be amazing prose, but they capture the quirks of her personality that give her instant appeal. Listen to the first half – sans the prologue – when there’s a good time to be had. OK.