Al­bum reviews

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -


FEATH­ERS De Oro (To­tally Gross Na­tional Prod­uct) With his ghostly falsetto and his lyri­cal in­fat­u­a­tion with ru­ral Wis­con­sin, Justin Ver­non is an un­likely can­di­date for a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the hip-hop singer. Yet the Bon Iver front­man has lent his haunt­ing voice to some of the most ar­rest­ing tracks on Kanye West’s last two al­bums, My Beau­ti­ful Dark Twisted Fan­tasy and Yeezus. But Ver­non pushes things into much stranger ter­ri­tory with his con­tri­bu­tions to De Oro, a satir­i­cal con­cept al­bum he co-wrote, pro­duced, and per­formed with the Florida-na­tive and Min­neapo­lis-trans­plant alt-rap­per Astro­nau­talis. The mix of syrupy crunk beats, elec­tro syn­the­siz­ers, and vocoder over­dubs is sur­pris­ingly well matched to Ver­non’s high-pitched croon­ing, and Astro­nau­talis’ word­play-filled raps. In the al­bum’s con­cocted nar­ra­tive, the two in­die singers re-cre­ate them­selves as a space cow­boy and a South­ern rap­per, swag­ger­ing studs out to scan­dal­ize the small towns of the Florida Pan­han­dle. It’s a fan­tas­tic al­bum, but one that would para­dox­i­cally em­bar­rass many of its lis­ten­ers were it to spill from their car win­dows or ear­buds. Over nine tracks, the two men, in their fic­tional iden­ti­ties, make pseudo-boasts of sex­ual con­quests at a Court­yard Mar­riott and in­dulge in gang­ster pos­tur­ing at a Golden Cor­ral’s buf­fet line. But they do so in the company of some of the most lus­cious beats and hyp­notic cho­ruses to come out this year. It’s high camp meets high art, a se­ri­ously un­se­ri­ous rap al­bum, or per­haps hip-hop’s first spaghetti western. — Casey Sanchez

CARI­BOU Our Love (Merge Records) Dan Snaith (aka Cari­bou) be­gins his lat­est ef­fort with “Can’t Do With­out You.” The sub­tle dance track uses the phrase as a mantra — Snaith loops it at a low fre­quency for a few mea­sures be­fore springing the phrase into a ghostly falsetto — while build­ing to a frenzy, bring­ing the plain­tive sen­ti­ment into a bee­hive of loud beats and buzzing sound ef­fects. It’s quite the en­trance for an al­bum that spends the rest of its du­ra­tion tak­ing things down a notch. This is not al­ways a bad thing. “Sil­ver” is a soul song that ap­pears to sim­ply hover in space, and “Mars” lets a flute slither across a min­i­mal­ist, East­ern-style beat. How­ever, el­e­ments of Our Love feel re­hashed from the last decade of trends: it has el­e­ments of the laid-back, hazy genre of chill­wave, as well as the soul­ful mum­bles and yacht-rock nods of what’s be­come known as “in­die R&B.” Whether or not your ears have been tuned to those sub­gen­res, you’ll likely en­joy the way he con­denses the best as­pects of them into brief songs. Snaith’s spe­cialty is in mak­ing sam­pled sounds ad­vance and re­cede like they’re run­ning laps and you’re stand­ing at one end of the track. It’s an al­lur­ing trick that helps pro­duce hyp­notic head­phone mu­sic, but as with much of the al­bum, it’s a trick we’ve heard be­fore. — Robert Ker

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