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.