Heart­throb flair

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - – Glenn Gam­boa/ News­day/ Tribune News Ser­vice Ch­ester Chin CC

WIN­NER EXIT: E YG En­ter­tain­ment

THE pe­riod be­tween the re­lease of de­but al­bum 2014 S/ S and this ex­tended play saw WIN­NER caught up in a pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion. Af­ter all, 18 months is a long time to be away from the charts – even more so for a rookie act in a highly sat­u­rated scene.

In that sense, EXIT: E can be seen as the five piece’s de­par­ture from tem­po­rary ob­scu­rity. Where its pre­vi­ous full- length rides on the wave of rel­a­tively un­ob­tru­sive num­bers, their lat­est stu­dio en­deav­our sees the boys sam­pling a flashier sound.

Al­though, you won’t be able to tell right away with the mod­est, al­beit bril­liant open­ing track BABY BABY. The song takes ev­ery­thing that 2014 S/ S does best – ro­man­tic melodies flirt­ing along the edges of R& B- flavoured hooks – and packs it within a dreamy mid- tempo of­fer­ing that show­cases the all- male en­sem­ble’s heart­throb flair.

The guys pick up the tempo on the is­land lilted IM­MA­TURE. But the real sur­prise on this 5- track of­fer­ing is SEN­TI­MEN­TAL, an ar­dent pop song that swoops and soars within the trap­pings of ebul­lient hip hop.

EXIT: E doesn’t re­ally veer far from its pre­de­ces­sor in terms of de­liv­er­ing ra­dio- friendly hits. But as far as im­pres­sions are con­cerned, the boys are good for now. –

Foxes All I Need Sony

WHEN Louisa Rose Allen re­leased her de­but al­bum al­most two years ago, she sounded as bland as an un­salted cracker. A tour with Phar­rell and an ap­pear­ance on BBC’s Doc­tor Who later, and not much has changed mu­si­cally for the Southamp­ton na­tive.

On her sopho­more al­bum, the English songstress – bet­ter known by her stage name Foxes – still strug­gles to sound even re­motely re­mark­able. Sure, lead sin­gle Body Talk – with its retro disco vibe and solid song­writ­ing – hints at some kind of nos­tal­gic 80s syn­th­pop great­ness, but that promis­ing pre­lude is all but lost on Allen’s lat­est stu­dio en­deav­our.

There are glim­mers of pop grandeur on tracks like the melo­dra­mat­i­cally repet­i­tive Cruel and the fre­net­i­cally thump­ing Feet Don’t Fail Me Now.

Else­where, the al­bum dis­ap­point­ingly fiz­zles out. The more up­beat num­bers lack vigour while the bal­lads are down­right lethar­gic. All this makes for a dull lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence akin to mind­lessly switch­ing TV chan­nels on a Mon­day night.

De­spite air­tight pro­duc­tion and com­mend­able songcraft, it’s easy to just glaze over All I Need’s lengthy run­ning time. Much of the record’s fail­ure has to do with Allen’s generic dis­po­si­tion as a pop­star. The 26- year- old can’t de­cide whether she wants to be an in­die dar­ling or a main­stream dance vixen. That in­de­ci­sive­ness shows and in Allen’s case, it might just lead to a pre­ma­ture down­fall. –

Matt DeFre­itas Cover Ses­sions, Vol. 2 In­de­pen­dant

BY now, you would have heard Adele’s Hello and Wiz Khal­ifa’s See You Again on the ra­dio so many times that you’d prob­a­bly be sick of them al­ready.

But leave it to YouTube crooner Matt DeFre­itas to in­ject fresh­ness into a num­ber of oth­er­wise over­played pop num­bers. On the se­cond vol­ume of his cov­ers col­lec­tion, the English singer tack­les ear­worms from The Vamp’s Wake Up to Tay­lor Swift’s Wildest Dreams with much gravitas.

Granted, DeFre­itas’ vo­cals are mid­dling at best. He strug­gles when it comes to the higher notes – most no­tably on One Di­rec­tion’s Per­fect, where his voice stretches too thin. What the man lacks in the vo­cal depart­ment though, he com­pen­sates with smart melody ar­range­ments. In DeFre­itas’ hands, Demi Lo­vato’s sexy Cool for the Sum­mer is turned into a solemn and haunt­ing num­ber.

The stand­out in this nine- track col­lec­tion is a mashup of Lit­tle Mix’s Black Magic and Cyndi Lau­per’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Who would have thought that songs from a post- Face­book girl group and 80s pop star could sound so good to­gether? – CC

An­i­mal Col­lec­tive Paint­ing With Domino

WITH its 11th al­bum Paint­ing With, An­i­mal Col­lec­tive seems like it’s at a cross­roads.

It opens with FloriDada, a crazy- sound­ing hodge­podge trib­ute to both the Sun­shine State and the Euro­pean art move­ment that sounds like Noah “Panda Bear” Len­nox, Dave “Avey Tare” Port­ner and Brian “Ge­ol­o­gist” Weitz are bounc­ing off the walls to ex­pend all the artis­tic en­ergy they are pack­ing into the song, from tongue twisters to jit­tery rhythms. And there are sev­eral songs like Ho­cus Pocus where Len­nox and Port­ner trade off lead vo­cals on ev­ery other syl­la­ble, cre­at­ing a ping- pong­ing ef­fect that forces the lis­tener to lis- ten to the lyrics even more care­fully just to fig­ure out what’s hap­pen­ing.

How­ever, the band is also de­liv­er­ing more “nor­mal” in­die- rock songs like the straight­for­ward Golden Gal, which quotes The Golden Girls di­a­logue, adds sweet har­monies, and bops along at a ra­dio- friendly pace to praise women. On the sleek, syn­thy Bagels In Kiev, their in­tri­cate har­monies make the fas­ci­nat­ing story more dra­matic, even as they de­clare “Bagels for ev­ery­one!”

So will An­i­mal Col­lec­tive con­tinue its sound ex­per­i­ments or opt for a more con­ven­tional fu­ture? Paint­ing With of­fers no real clues, but maybe that’s part of its charm.

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