Review: The 1975 – Being Funny in a Foreign Language

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After several years of exaggerated, dramatic, long-winded projects, The 1975 have released Being Funny In a Foreign Language – an apology album. The opening track, per the usual named “The 1975”, is a completely different track than the one we’re used to when we embark on a new album journey. Where we once heard Matty Healy sing “She can’t be what you need if she’s 17” in “Girls” from their self-titled album, we now hear him say “I’m sorry if you’re living and you’re 17”. It’s a stark change from their past work, and the only other “The 1975” track to open an album, the first being a speech by Greta Thunberg on 2020’s Notes on a Conditional Form.

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You can buy or stream Being Funny in a Foreign Language on Apple Music

The album clocks in at 11 tracks long, and for me is a real breath of fresh air. I felt very bogged down by their past couple albums, and even the great singles aren’t quite enough for me to dive into a full listen-through of either A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationship or Notes on a Conditional Form. I cherry-pick through those albums often but I couldn’t tell you what the rest of them sound like. With Being Funny, it feels like the band is getting back to their core. They’ve done some fun things and pushed the envelope, and now they’re ready to make real music again instead of noise. And I say “noise” affectionately, of course.

I think they biggest thing that stuck around from their experimental days is the composition choices. Matty Healy’s commitment to his sobriety has really brought about some of the best musical choices yet from the band. I think sometimes it can take being pushed to the edge to really find a foothold in something, and I think the 80’s influenced synthpop spot the band has decided to build in has really paid off for them.

The lyricism here is nothing less than we expect from The 1975, full of self-deprecation and on-the-nose criticism of society. This album deals with love and friendship differently than past works – in a more honest way, one could say. In other tracks, like “Paris” from 2015’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful but so unaware of it, reflect on memories the guys have made during their travels, or like “Robbers” from their self-titled, they often beat around the bush and make tightly laced metaphors that are impossible to parse. And I think the title of this latest project is a nod here. Being Funny In a Foreign Language –  not just not in English, but in an entirely new way. They are trying honesty on for a change, and it’s strange; it’s a learning curve.

Suffice to say, I love this new album. It feels familiar in a way The 1975 always has once I finally gave in to liking a “boy band.” From “Looking for Somebody (To Love)”, a song about school shootings, to the bridge of “When We Are Together”, where Matty sings about “Central Park being SeaWorld for trees”, this album is as varied and as methodically put together as all of their other projects. It’s just more concise. It seems The 1975’s language lessons are paying off.

5/5

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: The Wonder Years – The Hum Goes On Forever

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Every time I think The Wonder Years have finally peaked, they do something new and bring the bar up even higher. With The Hum Goes On Forever, we see the guys reckon with having younger eyes on them at all times, and the implications that has. In other words, The Wonder Years have finally grown up.

This album feels a lot like tying up loose ends in TWY lore, with callbacks to The Greatest Generation lyrically in several spots, but very in-your-face with lead single, “Oldest Daughter”, a song about “Madelyn”. There is a track called “Cardinals II”, in which we get punched in the gut with “I had that nightmare again / You fall and you’re helpless” sung in just the most devastating way vocalist Dan Campbell can find. In “The Paris of Nowhere” bridge, we get “It must get lonely / Without Colleen and Cheryl around”, a song title from their last full length album Sister Cities. This album all feels very overarching and a huge piece of TWY history. It feels effortlessly familiar

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You can buy or stream The Hum Goes On Forever on Apple Music

Every time I say, “This is their best album,” and with each release, I’m proven wrong. Somehow every album is their best, and I think it’s because of the honesty they pour into every one of their songs. They want to grow as a band, they want to grow as lyricists, but they also want to grow as people. And I think their earnestness and desperate search for something better keeps their art flowing. Even though someone who may just be getting into the band may think “everything sounds the same,” those who have been walking behind the band over the years and following their story can see the growth.

As the years have gone by and I have learned to cling to whatever is sure in life, I’ve never been more sure that The Wonder Years will stand the test of time. When I am older and my kids, or my nieces and nephews, ask for something to listen to, I know exactly who to point them to. This is one of those bands that have gotten me through my darkest days, even when they were going through their own dark times. I love this album. I love how raw it is.

I think my favorite track so far is “Old Friends Like Lost Teeth”. I’m not a parent so a lot of the tracks don’t quite hit my heart in that way, but I have lost people. I was on a run when I first listened through the album and when I heard “I wanna build you back from memory / Something that can stay / That can stay here when you go”, and “I’m caught in the gray / Drifting out here all alone”, I lost whatever breath I had left. It has still stuck with me several listens through, and i wait for it every time, which is basically my rubric for favorite album track.

I think at the crux of all of The Wonder Years’ art is just trying. And I think that’s what keeps us all around. The idea that the only thing someone could want from us is just whatever we have in our hands to offer in a demanding world is incredibly refreshing and relieving. And I think that the album title is a testament to that. Nothing will stop, the world will keep rushing around us, but for 45 minutes with The Hum Goes on Forever, or at the next TWY show, we can take whatever we need, and fill our hands with something to get us through. As the album ends, “Put in the work / Plant a garden / Try to stay afloat.”

5/5

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Pianos Become the Teeth – Drift

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I put a lot of trust into bands I consider to be core artists for me. I’ve done a lot of preordering of albums this year, just believing that the albums will arrive at my doorstep on release day and sweep me off my feet. Drift by Pianos Become the Teeth didn’t really do that for me this time.

Pianos has been one of my favorite post-hardcore outfits for a while now, since their release of Keep You in 2015, a truly seminal album for me. In 2018, they released my year-end favorite with Wait for Love. I guess I liked the idea of a band that kept evolving; but now I’m wondering if they’ve evolved too much – maybe even regressed a bit? Drift doesn’t lack emotion, but I feel it lacks substance.

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You can buy or stream Drift on Apple Music

The album starts off with “Out of Sight” a haunting, almost a capella track that sets the tone well. When I first tossed the disc in after peeling the plastic away and put my car in drive, I thought I would be in for Wait for Love part two, where we keep walking with Kyle Durfey and the guys as they move forward with their family life, and I was sad to see that maybe things haven’t gone as planned.

What shocks me most about this album is the bare bones writing. Lines are repetitive where they were once lush and full of artistry. The track “Easy” ends with “This is all there is”, and that’s a good way to describe the writing style here. Minimal. The band do make up for it with some of the musical choices, a very blurry, dreamy landscape of sound, but when you’re used to a full combination platter from a band, it’s hard to not see things missing. 

My favorite track here is “The Days”. It feels like a Wait for Love B-side, with a little bit of a darker undertone. Lines like “But I’m writing down everything you say for my dementia days” are the gut punch, visceral lyrics I’ve come to appreciate from the guys, and this is an album where those moments are few and far between.

The album is cohesive; I’ll give it that. And I feel like this is an album that taking a break from will cause me to return with fresh eyes and see what they were going for. They have leaned heavily into the shoegaze genre here, surpassing the post-hardcore sound completely. They used an Echoplex in production, which does lend that watery, easy feeling. The production is as good as it always is on their projects, and that is a redemptive quality for me.

I’m not against a band that wants to do something different on each of their albums. I think it can be a good exercise in creativity and keeping things fresh and exciting as both an artist and a fan. When I listen to Drift though, I get that they’ve definitely changed, but it doesn’t feel like it’s for the better. As they repeatedly say in “Mouth”, “We are not who we used to be”. I wish they could go back.

3/5

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Panic! At The Disco – Viva Las Vengeance

Viva Las Vengeance is a shockingly brilliant album. Brendon Urie and Panic! At The Disco have conquered almost everything there is between the emo scene and the glitzing echelon of the pop world. Instead of trying to outdo quite possibly his best album, Pray For The Wicked, Urie swerved and presented us something far deeper, angrier, and more personal than anything he’s released thus far. Viva Las Vengeance is a Broadway fever dream that channels the sleepless nights when everyone who has done you wrong haunts your dreams with the whimsical beauty only Panic! could deliver.

Viva Las Vengeance is a low-key answer to the band’s divisive sophomore album, Pretty. Odd. This is what Panic!’s second album could have been if they had stylized themselves after classic glam rock instead of The Beatles. 

You can buy or stream Viva Las Vengeance on Apple Music

Because of that, Viva Las Vengeance sounds like Hellogoodbye tried their hand at channeling Queen, adapted it into a Broadway show, and then let Brendon Urie run loose vocally. He shows off the extent of his vocal range while exorcizing demons he’s held since the age of 17 and writing a semi-concept album.

The record is stripped back in terms of what Panic! has written previously. Production lacks the over-the-top glamor and polish associated with a worldwide headliner, but it is astoundingly clean. Every instrument shines through with absurd perfection. Orchestral parts proliferate the album, from swirling violins and frantic trumpets (“Something About Maggie”) to the tambourine almost acting as the main instrument during the chorus (“Local God”). People talk in the background. The results are a lively album that breathes and swoons.

Urie also went off the deep end with time changes and thematic tonal diversions from song to song. After the second chorus in “Sad Clown”, for example, the music tempers itself while the violins and piano swell, almost as if it were the music played during a fight in Final Fantasy. Or in the case of “Something About Maggie”, the music is constantly interrupted by the deep voices of inner conflict before the heavily orchestral pop song sways to become the sound of madness for 15 seconds before resuming the cheery atmosphere it previously bore.

Viva Las Vengeance will be something that people either absolutely adore or hate, much like a stage show. Either way, it feels more personal than anything Urie has ever written. Sandwiched between the lyrics “‘Shut up and go to bed,’ she said,” Urie gets the grievances that have followed him for years off his chest during his rise to fame. Everything on the album is what keeps him up at night.

I saw Panic! perform as an opening act for Blink-182 just a couple of weeks after songwriter Ryan Ross’s departure. Urie stood still on stage in a suit, looking stunned and dejected, as if he were lost. Just a couple years later, he was one of the biggest names in the world, backflipping topless across the stage. At the pinnacle of his stardom, Urie finally seems to have let go of the anger he’d been holding back all along.

It’s in the appropriately named title track that Urie kicks off his ode to Pretty. Odd., Ross’s dream album. “Someone did me wrong, stole my favorite song / Yes, it really hurt”, he sings before chiming, “I don’t wanna be a diva, I just wanna be free / On a sofa with sativa, living the dream.”

“Local God” addresses Ross directly (“You had so many chances to become a star, but you never really cared about that”) as well as the hard early days of the band (“We signed a record deal at 17, hated by every local band”). 

“Sad Clown” goes through the struggles of either Urie or possibly former drummer Spencer Smith with addiction and the need to break free (“I pop a pill to feel euphoria / Five minutes, 10 minutes to half an hour / But not the rest of my life / Leave me alone”). 

Meanwhile, “Say It Louder”, a thunderous rock anthem, shows the stresses of having achieved the fame Urie always set out to gain as he sings, “Everybody hates you now, but don’t you let it break you down / Breakin’ out of your small town, show them what you’re all about”.

In the midst of everything, there’s also possibly a conceptual story involving a ‘God’ (“Local God”, “God Killed Rock and Roll”), a ‘King’ and playing music for the downcast (“Star Spangled Banger”), but looking too deep into it made my head hurt. All I know for sure is that “Star Spangled Banger” is the first song Panic! has ever released that I hope to never hear again. 

Viva Las Vengeance is astounding in many ways. It attacks and overachieves at the idea of what Pretty. Odd. could have been. It’s angry and resentful. It’s elegant, beautiful and so over-the-top that it’s impossible to take seriously as anything other than absolute magic. Panic! At The Disco continue to experiment and remix themselves so deeply it’s hard not to be in absolute awe of the results.

4.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and is curious how early is too early to put up Halloween decorations in good taste.

Review: The Interrupters – In The Wild

The Interrupters managed to do the impossible by making ska-punk appear on the radio for the first time in decades. Fight The Good Fight was a shot of adrenaline to the genre that has reverberated since its release four years ago. In the Wild, the band’s fourth record, takes a step back from the breakneck pace of earlier releases to broaden their take on the genre and expand their sound in ways that feel natural and fresh.

In the Wild succeeds by jumping into new lanes. Vocalist Aimee Interrupter delves into personal topics, ranging from abusive relationships (“Let ‘Em Go”) to anxiety (“In the Mirror”) and dealing with the loss of a loved one (“Love Never Dies”). Although the content is deeper and uglier, it pairs well with the buoyant guitars and reggae beats plastered throughout. While in theory this album is about facing the demons that haunt you, it still tempts you to dance and sing to the remarkably catchy choruses.

You can buy or stream Into the Wild on Apple Music.

The Bivona brothers play to their strengths and jump into these songs with simplistic ska sounds, raging guitars (“Jailbird”), and a swirl of steady beats (“As We Live”, “Worst For Me”) that make the most of their time. While much of the album retains the swagger that helped the band find their audience, (“Worst For Me”), there are some stretches to find the limits of genre. “My Heart” experiments with a doo-wop sound that initially sounds out of place, but quickly leaves its mark in the band’s pantheon. “Kiss The Ground” slows down to a reggae jam session before quickly launching at full speed into “Jailbird”, a furious single chasing the highs of “She’s Kerosene”. 

Singer Aimee once again is a force of nature on the mic. Her gravelly vocals generate an electricity that demands attention. She runs the scale from softer notes that seem to be musings (“Anything Was Better”) to shouting chaos and pushing herself to throat-shredding limits (“Jailbird”). She carries a hypnotic leading quality that tempts the listener to sing back to her, be it the chorus or the drunken “la la la’s” in “Worst For Me”. Most striking perhaps is “Raised By Wolves”, which somehow manages to turn a wolf howl into an integral part of the chorus instead of a cringe-inducing detail.

Although every song is a genuine sing-along, there are moments that stop the listener in their tracks with the realness that slips through. In the piano-driven closer “Alien”, Aimee struggles to relate to others (“My bones are the bars of a jail and I’ve never felt completely female / I sleep when the sun starts to rise so I spend the night drying my eyes / And I watch all the humans, they move place to place and hide in plain sight with that look on their face / Do they feel the same or is it just me?”).

Meanwhile “Afterthought” explores a disastrous relationship (After the sad song of my childhood, you were a warm, familiar tune / You cut me deeper than the ocean then I poured whiskey in my wounds”) before boasting about the clarity that came after moving on from it (“Thank you for the bruises, thank you for my broken brain / ‘Cause I made it through the battle stronger than I used to be”).

The Interrupters managed the unenviable task of following up a breakthrough album by doubling down on what made them stand out in the first place. In The Wild is a more measured album than the band has ever released. However, taking time to occasionally slow the journey down doesn’t mean the album isn’t brimming with energy. The Interrupters not only managed to revive a genre that was on life support, they’re making it fuller and richer than it’s been in years.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and he finished two novels today. He is currently lost, wandering the fields like an old goat trying to find a new series to read.

Review: Anberlin – Silverline

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We’ve reached the time of year where I begin to put my favorite Anberlin album into heavy rotation. There’s something about the back half of summer that just makes Dark is the Way, Light is a Place sound perfect. It’s an album that marked a sonic change for one of the aughts most revered rock bands, a notion that aligns perfectly with the feelings of coming change that are in the air this time of year.

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You can buy or stream Silverline on Apple Music

Over the course of what we thought were the band’s final three albums, Anberlin leaned hard into new territory, experimenting heavily with influences that they had previously sprinkled throughout their nearly bulletproof discography. By the time Lowborn arrived in 2014 as the band’s swan song, I couldn’t help but wish that there was another chapter or two to explore.

But as we’ve come to find in this scene, nothing is ever really over, and Anberlin is no exception. After a smattering of live performances in 2018 and 2019, the band embarked on a livestream series spanning their full catalogue before finally giving fans a taste of new tunes late last year with “Two Graves”. And now, Silverline, the band’s new EP and first proper release in eight years is here.

I’ll sheepishly admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Two Graves” upon its release, but here as the opener to Silverline, the track is kind of perfect. What isn’t quite apparent within each of these tracks alone, is that as a whole, the five songs serve as a fine blend of Anberlin’s past three albums. It’s in the bridge and outro of tracks like “Two Graves” and “Nothing Lost” that you can truly feel the rich textures of sound that the members of Anberlin can so brilliantly build. Credit to Christian McAlhaney and Joseph Milligan for bringing their A-game throughout.

The smooth intro of “Nothing Lost” is everything I’ve been missing from this band. Anberlin have always had a knack for implementing anthemic elements of decades past into their songs, and this song simply soars, particularly once the chorus hits with Stephen Christian singing, “Say nothing is ever gone / Stay here tonight / Stand down, you’re never lost / On the right path, wrong road”. By the time the bridge arrives, the rest of the band is ready to bring the house down.

Perhaps it’s because of this opening one-two punch that the next track, “Body Language”, seems like a slight letdown. It’s a stark change of pace and tone that continues into “Asking”. In a recent interview with Chorus.fm, Christian mentioned that two Silverline tracks were originally Anchor & Braille songs that were held back because he “heard them sonically and lyrically as Anberlin.” It’s easy to see the connection, although the back half of “Asking” begins to crescendo into something familiar to the best parts of Lowborn.

Silverline’s final track, “Circles” is classic Anberlin closer material, full of energy, emotion and a well-deserved sonic payoff that leaves you wanting more. If we’re lucky, maybe this is a new beginning for a band that never really felt like it was ready to call it quits in the first place. For nearly two decades, Anberlin has been a mainstay in a rock scene that felt like its walls couldn’t quite hold what the band was capable of building. Silverline is a worthy new entry into a catalogue full of delightful and unexpected twists and turns.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple pop culture outlets and was previously an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife, daughter, and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Review: Emery – Rub Some Dirt On It

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I originally wasn’t going to write anything about the new Emery album, Rub Some Dirt On It. Anyone who has followed my pieces here on It’s All Dead knows my love for Emery and I think I’ve written or talked about almost every one of their albums in the five years since I started contributing here. I just kind of felt I had nothing new to add to the conversation. But where I was lacking inspiration, Emery stepped up and filled in the blanks for me.

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You can buy or stream Rub Some Dirt On It on Apple Music

Rub Some Dirt On It is Emery’s hardest hitting album to date. I think one of the privileges of being a band for 20 years is being able to drop the filter and really lean into the art you want to make. Over the past few years, the scene has often been up in arms over the members of Emery’s podcasts, or artistic choices with album art, or the shift in their lyrical content. A few years ago, they released a song called “People Always Ask If We’re Gonna Cuss in an Emery Song” for God’s sake. They’re basically an ouroboros now, just devouring the criticism and turning it into more incredible and thought-provoking art than ever before. Just when you think it’s quiet on the Emery front, they release a single like “I Don’t Know You At All”, and you’re sucked right back in. If Emery has anything going for them 20 years into their career, it’s their talent for constantly staying in the back of the scene’s mind.

For Rub Some Dirt On It, I wrote off the title as an uber-masculine dude-fest at first, but Emery is at their most vulnerable here. The songs detail church abuse (“Stranger”), the way faith falters over the years (“You Stole God From Me”), and just the regular old guy/gal songs we know and love from South Carolina’s post-hardcore darlings (“You Said Enough”). And just in case we get too overwhelmed or in our feelings over it, they end the album with “Lovely Lady”, a complete turn-around musically, but a cool picture of just how well they mesh as a band, and a fitting closer to a very deep and personal album.

The album has some of Emery’s most interesting instrumentation, and more cutting lyrics than even in their edgy era when they were young. The 20+ years together have only tightened their sound and refined their artistic presence. They were a force to be reckoned with in the scene when they began, and they’re even more of a force now.

The band recorded this album in one take on a 2-hour livestream spectacular, and other than some minor tweaks here and there for recording’s sake, gave us the album as it was originally performed. I’ve said this before, but Emery really took the independent release format by the horns and completely flipped the script. Every time they’ve released something in their indie era, it’s better and fresher than what they did before. It’s almost like they challenge themselves to try something new every album cycle, and we’re privileged enough to come along for the ride.

5/5

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Valleyheart – Heal My Head

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Well it’s time, folks. Time to talk more about an album I haven’t been able to shut up about: Valleyheart’s Heal My Head. It’s finally out in the world, and it’s just what I’ve needed. This is an album perfect for spring and summer, and it is the perfect offering to usher us into sunnier days.

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You can buy or stream Heal My Head on Apple Music

What drew me to Valleyheart initially is their lyrical honesty and fresh take on the alt genre. Their first album, Everyone I’ve Ever Loved, hit me deeply in a way only a kid who grew up in New England churches can get hit. In a part of the country affectionately known by other religious areas as the “frozen chosen,” what Valleyheart had to say about church and the way that kind of upbringing tosses you into adulthood with little else but questions really resonated with me.

Their new album, Heal My Head, feels like defrosting. The sounds are lighter, the chords are major, and it’s all around giving me a chance to catch my breath. Vocalist/guitarist Kevin Klein and the guys have focused on time, and the way it ebbs and flows. We get songs about their success, songs about hoping for more, songs about friendship. There’s something here for everyone.

From the initial notes of “Birth”, a soft entrance through the door of this house Valleyheart built, we are pushed into the lead single, “The Numbers”. It’s easily one of the best songs of the year thus far, and a great representation of what we can expect here from the rest of this piece. This song is about Spotify stats at its core, but it really is about more than that: It’s about slowing down and taking the time to appreciate where we’ve been and where we’re going. It’s a song about gratitude. 

“Warning Signs” is the most different track, a very pop heavy song that was instantly a favorite for me. It’s catchy, and it breaks up the album just enough to keep things interesting. I fell head over heels for their harder rock sound, but tracks like this, along with “Back and Forth” and “Vampire Smile” are reminders that this band can do whatever they want and make it sound incredible, while keeping it congruent with the rest of what they’re trying to bring forth.

I love this album more every time I listen to it. Each time there’s something new for me to find or to think about. There truly are no highs or lows here. Every track has been chosen and placed with the steady hand of a master, and everything fits together like the pieces of the clock in the album art. The album is filled with joie de vivre. As I’ve spent time with it, I’m struck more and more of how this came at the perfect time for me. I am continually in awe of when things in my life completely sync up with a band’s releases, and this album has already begun to feel like home to me.

I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve found a new band to obsess over. 2013 began my love for From Indian Lakes, in 2015 came Pianos Become the Teeth, 2020 brought Gleemer. 2021 up to now and far into the future has brought me Valleyheart. A band close to home and now close to my heart and soul. Heal My Head is an album that will stay with me for a while, to say the least. It feels like coming up for air.

5/5

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Harry Styles – Harry’s House

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It’s no surprise that Harry Styles chose to open his newest album Harry’s House with a jazzy, larger than life track. “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” is the perfect opener for this latest iteration of Harry’s talent, and was an immediate fan favorite. It fits in well with his past discography as well. Is Harry becoming…predictable?

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You can buy or stream Harry’s House on Apple Music

“As It Was” starts with a piece of a voicemail from Harry’s goddaughter: “Come on Harry, we want to say good night to you!” In the video, this plays as he is seemingly stuck behind a door, and the song itself is about shutting himself out from everyone. It’s the closest we get to true self expression here, and even though it’s a great track for radio, it’s a risky set of lyrics to base everyone’s initial opinion of an album on. Some could say it follows suit from “Sign of the Times”, which is nothing short of gut-wrenching even (and especially) now, with its use of melancholia to pull us in.

What shocks me most about this new album is the amount of references to substances. Cocaine has at least three mentions and it’s clear he’s had a struggle with alcohol as well. Gone are the days of a carefree Harry singing about treating people with kindness or a girl who he wants to bring home to his mom. It seems these past few years have taken their toll on him, and it shows. He hides it pretty well behind the synths and harmonies, and callbacks to 70’s arena rock, but it’s there nevertheless.

Other than glimpses here and there, not much is said here about how Harry’s personal life is going, given the title of the album. Mentions are made of him and his lover riding bikes in New York (“Daylight”), and making breakfast (“Keep Driving”). 

I do love this album. It feels carefree, and will be a summer soundtrack for most of us, surely. The production is perfection, something we’ve come to expect from him. What I think has been missing from Harry’s career as a whole is intimacy. He talks a lot about his experiences in therapy, most recently in his interview with Zane Lowe, but that doesn’t seem to translate to his bodies of work. I truly wonder whether there will be a time when we get a softer, more personal album from Harry, and whether he will stop concealing himself behind power pop.

Harry’s House is a misleading title. It leads us to believe he will finally let us in, finally give us a real, genuine taste of who he is and who he is becoming. But, like his past releases, he sings so little about himself that he seemingly lets us in the foyer only to say, “Thank you so much for coming, hope you can come again soon!” before ushering us out and away from getting too close to him.

4/5

Photo by Lillie Eiger

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Florence and the Machine – Dance Fever

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I always have trouble figuring out how to open a review, especially when the body of work speaks for itself and anything I add won’t be any more enlightening, maybe even less so. I almost never feel this way more than when I think of Florence Welch. A startling force to be reckoned with in the music world. She stands like justice above it all, with the past in one of her scales and modernity in the other. With Dance Fever, she first uses her sword to rip away her blindfold, and then ours.

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You can buy or stream Dance Fever on Apple Music

Never am I more anticipatory of a release cycle than one of Florence’s. Her attention to detail and obsession over the visual arts in combination to her musical craft are second to none, and Dance Fever is no different. From billboards that look like Renaissance paintings from a museum wall to a series of music videos telling us exactly what she wants us to glean, Florence spares no emotional expense to bring us into her world.

The album begins with Florence being torn between two lifestyles: domesticity and the quietness it brings, or the energy of being on the stage and creating new life with her words. “King” was the first single and I mentioned it in a past Queue It Up. I bring it up here because in tandem with the rest of the singles it provides a personal look to Florence’s recent struggles, but in the context of the album it is a tale of womanhood in a broader spectrum. When she lets loose at the end, it’s a nod to any woman who has ever been frustrated by whether she should settle for a life of nurturing, or to keep growing the thing inside of her that longs for freedom and the desire to run from anything that will tie her down. 

It ends with “Morning Elvis” and her having made her decision through song. Throughout, she sings of feeling like she is at once too much and not enough. She sings of old times at shows and cutting her teeth on her own career. She sings of traveling and feeling big feelings and dealing with her addiction on her own. She sings of being strong and being weak and being alone and yet when she is feeling love she feels uncomfortable. She contains multitudes, as do we all.

I think the album as a whole is a lament on years lost to time. Maybe for some that is through the pandemic that prevented us from being as close to normalcy as we wish, and for others it is through choices that have taken them far away from where they thought they could or should be by now. I know for me I feel at 25 I should feel more secure in where I am and where I am headed. It’s comforting to know someone like Florence, who exudes pure confidence in her stage presence, struggles with the same idea.

Lyrically, this is a call back to Lungs and Ceremonials, where she spins her words into gold from ages ago –  even calling a track Cassandra”, a woman from Greek myth whose curse was telling the truth but never being believed. I think it is telling that we hear a song like this from Florence. She has been singing  about the same thing for years, songs of bettering society and taking care of nature and finding the worth in ourselves, only for the world to sink deeper and deeper. 

Back in 2018, when Florence’s last album released, none of us could have foreseen that we would be stuck in time for almost three years. Months and months of not being able to personally partake in art has taken its toll on artists and listeners alike. I am certainly not the same person who put up a piece on High as Hope. Even the title is hard to bear, because hope feels so far away these days. But if High as Hope was Florence at her most demure, an ode to where we have been, then Dance Fever is an ode to where we are going. Nowhere but up.

4/5

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.