The 1975 – I like when you sleep, for you are beautiful yet so unaware of it (7.3/10)
The 1975 receive a title they do not deserve: boy band.
The band comes from England, the same country that produced boy-band megastars One Direction. We also can’t forget about The Wanted, who have fallen off the face of the planet since their 2011 hit “Glad You Came.” Britain’s former colony of Australia has produced some sort of Blink-182-One-Direction hybrid, in the form of 5 Seconds of Summer. The U.S. has failed to produce a successful boy band since the days of N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys. In this country, we seem to reserve boy bands for cruise ships.
The 1975 is not a mass produced boy band built for arena tours, radio singles, nor a Beatle-mania quantity of screaming pre-teen and teenage girls. While the band has been successful, they are a band that strives to make music rather than money. The looks of the artists should not define the style of the band. (Louis CK once noted that every musician is good looking, and there has never been an ugly guy who kills it at guitar.)
The band’s latest album (whose title is too long to repeat or turn into an acronym) proves that they care about their craft. No boy band would make a long-winded album (84 minutes) with a long-winded title.
This is not pop in the style of Justin Bieber and Timberlake. This is electronic pop rock in the style of Phoenix and Passion Pit. The centerpiece of the album is “The Sound,” a great heavy-synth song with a rapid-fire chorus. Another highlight is “If I Believe You,” which is a slow ambient breakup song with God.
The album rallies between fast synth-pop to slow, sometimes lyric-less electronica. One outlier is the song “Love Me,” which sounds like an interpretation of David Bowie’s “Fame,” wholly based in a guitar riff.
Overall, The 1975’s latest album looks to be a success that may garner a radio hit with “The Sound,” but it should not be grouped with the likes of One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer.
Best Tracks: “The Sound,” “Love Me,” “If I Believe You”
Santigold – 99 Cents (7.1/10)
Santigold is a product of M.I.A. and Diplo around the time of Kala and “Paper Planes.” 99 Cents is the Philadelphia-based singer’s third album after four years.
The singer’s last album, Master of My Make Believe, was a dark turn from her self-titled debut. The first album was an eclectic collection of global indie pop, which produced a handful of successful singles as well as two backing tracks in commercials for everyone’s favorite citrus-flavored gutter water, Bud Light Lime.
99 Cents is a return to positive pop for the singer. The album starts with highlight, “Can’t Get Enough of Myself,” a self-love confidence anthem in almost a similar vein to Kendrick Lamar’s “i.” Santigold’s chilled out vibe from the first album carries on to “Chasing Shadows,” as well as a world music tone on “Banshee.”
Another hit from the album is “Who Be Lovin’ Me,” a smoldering R&B jam with iLoveMakonnen. Overall, 99 Cents is a decent indie-pop album. It’s coming out at the right time, as temperatures rise and sunlight comes back in time for spring. Santigold has always seemed like springtime sunshine block party music. 99 Cents is perfect as students return to Yampa for the final weekends of the school year.
Best Tracks: “Can’t Get Enough of Myself” (featuring BC), “Who Be Lovin’ Me” (featuring iLoveMakonnen), “Banshee”
French Montana – Wave Gods (6.4/10)
Before it was called The Life of Pablo, Kanye’s album was going to be called Waves, which lead to a controversy with Wiz Khalifa over the legacy of incarcerated rapper Max B. Seeing an opportunity, perennial struggle rapper French Montana dropped a mixtape called Wave Gods with former collaborator Max B five days later.
The Life of Pablo is by no means a masterpiece, or even a complete work, but compared to Wave Gods those qualifiers can be overlooked. Kanye may have a lot of bandwagon fans, but French Montana is a bandwagon rapper.
The two albums share several collaborators: Chris Brown, Metro Boomin, Travi$ Scott, the incarcerated Max B on a prison phone and, yes, even Kanye himself. A$AP Rocky, Big Sean, Puff Daddy, Jadakiss, and Future also appear on the album. Yet even collaboration can not make French Montana successful.
French Montana rapping sounds kind of like a garbling moan. His lines aren’t very memorable and they are generally delivered slowly, but somehow in a way that you can’t understand.
If it weren’t for the collaborations themselves, no one would be talking French Montana. Not only did Max B pull up the weak French Montana, but after Max B went to jail, Rick Ross and Puff Daddy also signed French Montana to their labels.
Every song independently by French Montana falls flat. The best tracks are the collaborations “Figure It Out,” with Kanye and Nas, and “Lockjaw,” with up-and-comer Kodak Black.
Luckily, Wave Gods is a free mixtape, so if you want to check it out, it won’t cost you in Spotify streams. Pick and choose what you hear, don’t waste 48 minutes with the perpetually slurry French Montana.
Best Tracks: “Can’t Figure It Out” (featuring Kanye West & Nas), “Lockjaw” (featuring Kodak Black), “Off The Rip” (Remix featuring A$AP Rocky & Chinx)