Keep chas­ing wa­ter­falls

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Music -

TLC TLC 852 Musiq

TLC, the iconic 90s-era girl group, is back af­ter 15 years away and these women are clearly not wast­ing any­more time. “We don’t need no in­tro­duc­tion,” they boast on the first song of their new self-ti­tled CD. “No, we don’t need no in­struc­tions/We al­ready paved the way.”

They’re right. For those of you who have no idea whom TLC is, we’ll wait while you go to the clos­est older per­son who can ex­plain how im­por­tant No Scrubs,

Wa­ter­falls and Creep were for a gen­er­a­tion raised on the band’s mix of fe­male empower­ment and so­cially con­scious lyrics. (Ed Sheeran is clearly a fan – he had to credit No Scrubs for his hit Shape Of You.)

Back? OK. The self-ti­tled al­bum is from the sur­viv­ing mem­bers, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Ro­zonda “Chilli” Thomas. Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes died in a 2002 car crash. The new al­bum heart­break­ingly in­cludes an old record­ing of Lopes’ voice as an interlude, a nice way to in­clude her in 2017.

As for the al­bum, funded in part by Kick­starter, it’s a kalei­do­scope of dif­fer­ent sounds and moods, be­fit­ting an al­bum with some 20 dif­fer­ent song­writ­ers. It’s ex­ec­u­tive-pro­duced by Ron Fair, who has worked with Vanessa Carl­ton and the Pussy­cat Dolls, while Watkins had a hand in almost ev­ery song.

It veers from the stripped-down acous­tic of Per­fect Girls – a sort of up­dated Un­pretty – to the R&B-flavoured Joy Ride. There’s a techno-touched Scan­dalous and a 70s-disco boo­gie It’s Sunny, which sam­ples Earth Wind & Fire.

Watkins and Thomas look back a few times – they take a nos­tal­gia tour with Snoop Dogg on Way Back that name-checks Prince and Marvin Gaye – and for­ward with the elec­tro-poppy Haters. They get se­ri­ous on the haunt­ing protest song Amer­i­can Gold.

You want co­her­ence? Well, it’s over­rated. This is TLC, af­ter all. It’s just a joy to hear them again and to have it be with a new, strong joy­ous al­bum seems even bet­ter. We’ve waited long enough. What are you wait­ing for? – Mark Kennedy/AP

Imag­ine Dragons Evolve Uni­ver­sal

IMAG­INE Dragons, af­ter tak­ing some time to re­group with their last al­bum Smoke And Mir­rors, are ready to blur the bound­aries of rock and pop again.

Evolve blends big rock an­thems with el­e­ments of hip-hop, R&B and EDM to cre­ate a catchier, more cur­rent sound, the sound that fu­elled smashes Ra­dioac­tive and It’s Time. Rock purists may hate that sound, but it’s way more likely to grab lis­ten­ers on pop ra­dio than any­thing more tra­di­tional.

The first sin­gle, Believer, with its hip-hop-in­flected verses and EDM drops in the cho­rus, shows just how flex­i­ble singer Dan Reynolds’ vo­cals can be. The open­ing of the fol­low-up, Walk­ing

The Wire, could be a coun­try hit be­fore it builds into a mas­sive rock cho­rus. Mouth Of The River welds grunge-era al­ter­na­tive verses and a cho­rus that could have come from Adele’s last al­bum.

The Las Ve­gas band’s will­ing­ness to throw out rock con­ven­tions in the name of pur­su­ing the best mu­si­cal idea is re­fresh­ing, es­pe­cially when the spare, Lorde-like verses give way to in­ven­tive per­cus­sion in Thun­der or the 80s-in­spired soul of Start Over that would fit nicely with the new Paramore al­bum.

Un­like pre­vi­ous al­bums, Imag­ine Dragons worked with pro­ducer Alex da Kid, who dis­cov­ered and signed the band to his la­bel, as well as Mattman & Robin, and Joel Lit­tle, who worked on Lorde’s de­but. And those new col­lab­o­ra­tors seem­ingly sparked re­newed risk-tak­ing from the band.

Danc­ing In The Dark, for ex­am­ple, in­cor­po­rates the elec­tro-soul of James Blake so ef­fec­tively that it could even hook what­ever hip­sters may stum­ble onto it.

With Evolve, Imag­ine Dragons seem ready to tran­scend genre la­bels – they just want to make good mu­sic that in­ter­ests them. – Glenn Gamboa/Newsday/Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Fleet Foxes Crack-Up Warner

AF­TER two ac­claimed al­bums of lush, heav­enly har­monies and gen­tle, Lau­rel Canyon or­ches­tra­tion, Fleet Foxes went into hi­ber­na­tion. Crack-Up is their first since 2011; in the in­terim, leader Robin Pec­knold took classes at Columbia, and their for­mer drum­mer Josh Till­man grabbed the spot­light as Fa­ther John Misty.

Crack-Up is a more com­plex, darker al­bum than their first two. Songs are full of ques­tions: “If I don’t re­sist / will I un­der­stand?”; “Who stole the life from you?”; “Can you be slow for a lit­tle while?”

Sev­eral songs are suites that stretch past seven min­utes and move from lonely, solo ru­mi­na­tions into densely or­ches­trated grandeur, but whereas in the past the tone was tri­umphant and af­firm­ing, here it is of­ten dis­so­nant and con­flicted. The sig­na­ture har­monies are still there, as are mo­ments of beauty in songs such as If You Need To, Keep Time On Me and the ti­tle track. The sun-dap­pled melodies have given way to some­thing deeper and more de­mand­ing but still re­ward­ing. – Steve Klinge/ The Philadel­phia In­quirer/Tri­bune News Ser­vice

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.