Lil Uzi Vert - Pink Tape
Lil Uzi Vert's 90 minute long new album is one of the silliest releases of the year. Clearly an oddball from his public persona and loud appearance, aside from glimpses his music didn't always offer the same eccentricity. After his 2017 big release Luv is Rage 2 he returned with a long-awaited follow-up Eternal Atake which was seemingly Uzi on autopilot. It was all serviceable trap music but didn't feel like it quite got the fun of his music.
Pink Tape is different. It's a mess, but a hugely enjoyable mess. Finally he starts experimenting a little bit more and expanding his production. Constantly citing Marilyn Manson as an influence, as well as Paramore and other pop-punk and emo bands, Uzi leans into rock influences a bit more in mixed ways. Suicide Doors which follows the album opener feels like a good marriage of Lil Uzi Vert and metal inspired production.
Though the album also tries harder electronic trap beats like Playboi Carti's Whole Lotta Red and more typical floaty cloud rap instrumentals that Lil Uzi Vert is known for. There's a terrible but amusing cover of System of a Down's Chop Suey and a Bring me the Horizon track with a Uzi feature masquerading as a Lil Uzi Vert song. It's a puzzling, inconsistent and intriguing mix of ideas.
It contains some of Uzi's best work yet, no doubt. A lot of alright tracks but he's definitely trying a lot more interesting ideas here even if they don't all pan out. It's a lot of fun and something you can easily distill down into a fun album by cutting songs and reordering the tracklist.
Beach Fossils - Bunny
Genre: Indie Rock
When I think back to the year of 2017, especially the summer there's a particular album that will dominate it and that's the previous Beach Fossils album, Somersault. It's been a long-time coming but Bunny is exactly what I wanted out of their belated fourth record.
Introspective, but fun tunes about the awkward period of getting older but not being settled. Its sound pallette builds upon the sunny, calmness of Somersault but also feels more focused, yet less samey. Sticky hooks and excellent guitar playing dominate the record to make a versatile record for the summer. Put it on at the beach, during the sunset or into the summer nights, there's not too many situations where this record doesn't fit well.
King Krule - Space Heavy
King Krule returns more self-conscious and introspective than ever on his latest record Space Heavy. There's still nobody out there making music that sounds like King Krule so he remains a great act to revisit with his low-key, jazzy jams.
Has some great tracks like Seaforth and From the Swamp. I will need to give this more listens but it keeps the murky vibe and strong vocals of his previous releases while adding more lyrical density.
Jam City - Jam City Presents EFM
Genre: Electronic, Pop
Jam City goes a bit under the radar as an artist who was really pushing boundaries in electronic music, before other artists like SOPHIE or A.G. Cook made that early "hyperpop" sound popular. Since he's put out a selection of interesting releases, but his new Jam City Presents EFM is a cool push into making more accessible tunes that don't lose any of the fidelity of his weirder electronic work.
Having worked with some pop stars already on the side, this album uses a variety of guests as his muse to make cool alt-R&B / pop tracks. Mainly the repeated appearances from London based singer Aidan remind me of the star-making turn that Sampha had in SBTRKT's debut way back in the early '10s. Tracks here often have a summery tinge like the tropical opener Touch Me, or Wild n Sweet which makes perfect use of Empress Of.
It's brief and varied, leaving me excited for this new collaborative era of Jam City. A great album that is timed nicely to give me some big tracks for the summer. Also in exploring all of Jam City's work after checking this out I was surprised to find out he is a massive part of one of my favourite tracks of this year, Lil Yachty's the ride-, as it heavily samples one of Jam City's own tracks! Cool!!!
Young Thug - Business is Business
Young Thug was one of the most influential and exciting artists of the '10s, period. His prolificity following his breakout release Barter 6 made him an unavoidable figure in hip-hop and one who was constantly pushing to be creative in the space. Running into this new decade his work dried up a bit, as did the quality, especially stuff released after 2019's So Much Fun. Then he got arrested as part of a RICO case, and it's not looking too great for the rapper's chances of avoiding a heavy sentence currently.
Though surprise released is this new Young Thug album, with big features and a relatively concise runtime. Executive produced by Metro Boomin, it's unknown what the deal with this album is, whether it was something in the works before Thug was arrested or an album of B-sides carefully curated and littered with new guest verses. Regardless, at the very least it gives us some new Young Thug as doesn't leave his disappointing 2021 album Punk as his final release if he is to go behind bars for a lengthy time.
There's a lot of fun tracks here, though it feels often like Young Thug himself is playing it safe here. Maybe these are stuff that was left on the cutting room floor of his more accessible So Much Fun and Punk albums, but it flows nicely and has great beats and the guest appearances pull their weight. It's a record that won't touch the best of Thug's vast discography, but also is far better than you'd expect given he was probably in a jail cell for most of the construction of the final product.
Geese - 3D Country
Geese debuted in 2021 as a buzz-worthy Brooklyn based post-punk band. Their debut album Projector was very good, but also lacked enough of an imprint to make them stand out in a surprisingly crowded genre of indie.
3D Country is the ideal sophmore record for a band like Geese who are now standing out from the crowd with a particularly fantastic set of vocal performances on this record from frontman Cameron Winter. In a more risk-taking and outwardly ridiculous record, they sound freed from genre expectations and are proudly jamming out and going beyond their initial chosen genre. It's wild and fun, while Geese's last album was easy to file under the post-punk resurgence, 3D Country is less quantifiable and far more fun.
Janelle Monáe - The Age of Pleasure
Genre: R&B, Pop
Janelle Monáe previously is best known for her sprawling concept albums, and a recent move into acting, but the more playful and short The Age of Pleasure deliberately breaks free of expectations, even rebelling against them at times. Preceded with the sex-positive celebration of people's bodies in the music video for lead single Lipstick Lover.
Free from a central concept to follow and experimenting with shorter song lengths leads to a selection of exciting, summery R&B. It's cohesive, but aside from a few big standouts like Lipstick Lover will probably remain something unessential in the scheme of this year's music releases.
TV Girl - Grapes Upon the Vine
I discovered TV Girl back in their early bandcamp days, but recently they've achieved success through TikTok virality. Combining samples with descriptive lyricism, telling somewhat vindictive tales of relationships as a core topic over indie pop blueprints. The sound of TV Girl's records has always appealed to me, even if the "character" the lead singer occupies doesn't always feel tasteful.
Their first new music since their newfound viral fame, this record pretty much deliberately doesn't chase the sort of sound that has found them belated streaming success. Instead it focuses heavily on gospel samples, not a huge right turn from the typical vintage samples, but one that's quite focused. Feels like it's aiming more towards being Primal Scream, but doesn't always land. Has some nice tracks, interesting but not entirely surprising to see this has dropped to an absolutely tepid response from fans.
If they wanted to filter out fans jumping on the bandwagon after TikTok virality, this is certainly a record to do so. I don't think it's bad, but it's definitely the least enjoyable TV Girl record thus far.
8485 - Personal Protocol
Genre: Hyper pop, Electronic
Vocaloid inspired takes on hyperpop and electronic music from the artist 8485, who returns this year with a selection of new tracks. While my favourite track from her has to be the incredible hangar which bleeds frustration at being stuck in a dead-end situation, this new record features the best production work so far and a selection of cool vocal performances.