Group of Seven
Beach House make it sound so easy. The Baltimore duo have yet to release a bad song, and their core sonic blueprint — Victoria Legrand’s sonorous vocals and purring organ, Alex Scally’s twinkling guitars — seems bulletproof. Their seventh album keeps their streak alive; if you’re looking for curveballs, you’ve come to the wrong band. Beach House continue to explore new crannies of their familiar dream pop sound, occasionally highlighting a new aspect of their style without ever changing it completely. The pitch-warped synths of “Lemon Glow” capture the band at their trippiest, while “L’Inconnue” layers Legrand’s reverb-soaked vocals like a church hymnal, and hypnotic seven-minute closer “Last Ride” is led by an uncharacteristically sparse piano figure. Minor evolutions aside, there’s not a whole lot to set 7 apart from the six albums that preceded it. Don’t take them for granted, since it’s hard to think of another band that has delivered so reliably for this long. (Bella Union/Sub Pop)
that Joyride was due for a rollout in 2015, but despite a single or two, it looked like it wouldn’t see the light of day. A second effort, 2016’s Nightshade, was a mixtape meant to tide us over, but by then we were too primed for the much-promised release. Joyride is finally here and it highlights the artist’s promise and potential, while, at the same time, leaving us wondering what the wait was about. The title track is a foreboding number, despite its hard-driving promise of “living life,” with ominous percussion giving way to a surprising string-oriented groove at its climax. That’s the overall feel of Tinashe the performer and vocalist: a mix of innocence, ambition and sensuality. “He Don’t Want It” is a sleepy, enticing bedroom jam; “Ooh La La” is a breezy midtempo song about unrequited love; and “Stuck With Me” is a fun, stripped-down danceable distraction à la Janet Jackson, but then comes along a track like “No Contest” that feels like a number Ciara might have passed on in 2012.
What’s it like making album seven compared to album one?
Legrand: The older we get, the less of a fuck we give. You can see it in all people as they get older, until you’re in your 70s and you’re wearing three different kinds of outfit all at the same time. I think a natural part of getting older is you just give less and less of a fuck. I think for artists, it’s a really amazing, fascinating experience. Most artists, probably, are into getting older, because of that feeling.
How does not giving a fuck impact your music?
When I say “not giving a fuck,” I just mean that. As you’re making something, you eradicate the knowledge of other things around you. You just fully go into your fantasy or your nightmare or your obsession. That energy of not caring at all what anything particularly means when you’re making it is just getting more solid as Alex and I work together.
Things pick up with “Salt,” a sensual, slowed-down guitar-driven effort, showcasing Tinashe’s maturing vocals, while the poppy, straightforward “Faded Love” is destined to be a hit, as is the chill groove that is “No Contest” and the pop ballad of “Stay the Night.” Indeed, whether by perception or reality, the vibe can’t help but feel a bit dated through Joyride, with grooves and chords feeling a bit “early to middecade” instead of 2018. Tinashe’s Joyride is a stop-start journey that doesn’t quite stall out, but does feel like some ground has been lost. It does move, however, and it will be interesting to see where things go from here. (RCA) R& B Isolation is a sure-footed declaration of independence, and each track presents one of Uchis’s different facets. The album’s collaborators are curated perfectly; with help from Thundercat, Steve Lacy and Jorja Smith, Uchis floats seamlessly between moods and genres. She drizzles liquid vocals over standouts like “Just a Stranger,” “Tyrant” and the motivational funk ballad “After the Storm.” The spirit of Amy Winehouse echoes on sweeping soul tracks like “Flight 22” and “Feel Like a Fool,” and Uchis flirts with hip-hop on “Coming Home,” an interlude that begs to be a full song. Putting a spotlight on her Colombian roots, Uchis sprinkles in dashes of Spanish and teams up with Reykon for “Nuestro Planeta,” last summer’s sultry reggaeton scorcher. Isolation works because Uchis displays impeccable command over her voice and her style, bending genres to her will rather than allowing them to absorb her identity. (Rinse/ Virgin/EMI)