Arctic Monkeys - The Car
Arctic Monkeys return with their seventh album after 2017's left-turn Tranquility Base & Hotel which had a bit of a mixed reception, as does any largely popular band who change up their style. To the dismay of fans who were not on board for the change to more laid-back, verbose and piano orientated tracks, The Car continues taking the band's sound in that direction.
I thought that Tranquility Base & Hotel was a nice change of pace, and this new album carries over much of what made that album so good. Though it is a bit of a diminishing return and feels like it blends together a bit more on this record. It does feel a bit funkier than the previous album but it also feels as if Arctic Monkeys might've fully scratched the itch that this style of music is lending to.
Jean Dawson - CHAOS NOW*
Genre: Indie Pop / Rock
Jean Dawson really caught my attention with his last album Pixel Bath, which has stayed in my regular rotation since its 2020 release. This follow-up is also very good, more focused into a indie-rock influenced lane this time around. But it's consistently catchy and witty, with some big anthemic style tracks as well as more introspective and slower ones to change up the pace. No doubt an exciting voice in his own lane right now, Jean Dawson shows himself as a great new talent with his deft genre mixture on show.
454 - FAST TRAX 3
454 is surely on the cusp of stardom with his pitched up approach to hip-hop. He falls into a similar lane as a rapper like Playboi Carti while also having pop leaning sensibilities. FAST TRAX 3 is mixtape filled with bright hyperpop leaning beats and a combination of rap and R&B delivery, often pitched up and sped up. It's music for the TikTok generation, but ones that genuinely feel like their breaking into untapped potential. For a project that wasn't even intended to be released commercially, it's remarkably well polished and filled with fun beats and twisty flows.
Alvvays - Blue Rev
Genre: Indie Pop
Alvvays return with another extremely solid dose of jangle pop after their 2017 sophmore release. It's not breaking new ground, but is filled with witty lyrics and varied instrumentation. With such nice singing from frontwoman Molly Rankin and a uniform upbeat tone, it's a hard album to do wrong by really.
Fred again.. - Actual Life 3
Genre: House, Electronic
Fred again.. recorded his first two journal inspired Actual Life albums during the COVID infested years of 2020-2021. The scrapbook sampling and spacey approach to club music was a very 'of the moment' approach to the genre. Now that we're out of the age of lockdowns (for the moment perhaps), he's blown up his 'emotional house' music to be fitting for the clubs that are now filled again. This leads to a lot of nice house music, but the sampling of voice memos and voicemails feels more like a gimmick this time around.
Does the allure of Fred again..'s everyman house music vanish when this framing device no longer offers as much insight to his life? A little bit, the best moments of this album are pretty much just house bangers, but they retain a nice spacey atmosphere and are all well structured and danceable so it's hardly a bad listen.
Babytron - Bin Reaper 3: Old Testament
Babytron recently came to my attention and has been one of my favourite music discoveries of this year. He's pretty prolific and this is actually his second album of the year and the third in his annual Bin Reaper series of work. This takes his fast punchline focused, Detroit influenced style of rapping and cleans it to a better mixed and more professionally presented project. Starting to implement hooks in his songs as well as the better sounding mix seems to point towards Babytron reaching a new level soon.
piri & tommy - froge.mp3
Genre: Electronic, Pop
Drum and bass and other '90s electronic music are lovingly pulled from in this contemporary release from the duo of Piri & Tommy. Featuring bright, clear vocals and similarly. It lends draws comparison to PinkPatheress, who had her breakout year last year. It's got a heap of charm though, simple beats are paired well with the cutesy vocals. Certain tracks here really lend themselves to replay value and they do some light genre traversal instead of just sticking to the drum and bass that got them the initial burst of viral popularity.
The 1975 - Being Funny in a Foreign Language
The 1975's fifth album cuts the fat from previous releases, but also feels less remarkable and interesting. There's still plenty of pop music that feels like an ideal mix between '80s worship and contemporary sheen, but the uniform production from Jack Antonoff and relatively straightforward lyrics makes this potentially my least favourite release from them. Still, songs like Happiness and Oh Caroline are pleasant and there's still clearly a lot of character in the lyrics from Matty Healy.
Lancey Foux - LIFE IN HELL
British hip-hop seems to struggle to have crossover appeal, but Lancey Foux might be the man to finally break out. His style is very obviously indebted to American artists like Playboi Carti, but he stands out as an exciting voice. LIFE IN HELL is a bit on the longer side with 22 tracks but features exciting collaborations with beatmaker Kaytranada and a mix of hard trap inspired beats and floaty cloud-rap instrumentals, sometimes going for a singing drawl instead of quick-witted raps. He's bound to scratch a certain itch for a lot of listeners. It has some of my favourite production of the year and Lancey's style pairs so well with it.
Clarence Clarity - UNRECORDED HISTORY
Genre: Electronic, Experimental
Clarence Clarity is just doing whatever he wants with this bandcamp release. It's his usual style of maximalist pop music, only it all sounds like you're listening to it underwater. It's one of the most unique listening experiences of the year, it takes a certain kind of talent to create these tunes and mask them like this. Though despite the unorthodox presentation, this is still often really catchy and interesting. Vocals aren't really able to be made out and are reduced to melodies. It sounds uncanny, but in a melancholic and happy sort of way. Lyrics reduced to odd sounding melodies. it's a curious and worthwhile release for sure. Real oddball pop music.
Oliver Francis - pond scum
A pretty straightforward EP of rapping for Oliver Francis, who often leans more on a more melodic or autotuned style. It's got very clean beats and good wordplay to make this a fun release and continues a good run after his great album Hijinks was only released in early September.