A good ‘Summer,’ but not the best
By HARDEEP PHULL
Albums of the Week
KANYE WEST’S G.O.O.D. MUSIC
Not everything Kanye West touches turns to gold, and this long-awaited compilation of tracks fashioned by artists on his G.O.O.D. Music label proves it.
There are moments that fly close to the world-beating heights Yeezy has regularly scaled in recent times — the cinematic single “Clique,” for example, finds him in dominant lyrical form and gets a boost from equally slick verses courtesy of Big Sean and Jay-Z.
But tracks like these are haphazardly thrown in with filler such as the sleepy slow-jam “Higher” (which features G.O.O.D. second-stringer Pusha T, among others) and Kid Cudi’s tuneless drone “Creepers.” It may only be a hobby project for West, but that unfamiliar feeling of disappointment is hard to shake.
THE Killers have always made it known that they want to be big, but “Battle Born” reveals the true scale of the Las Vegas group’s ambition. Their fourth album is awash with stadium-size sounds, but in Brandon Flowers, the band boasts a songwriter who can make all their musical contrivances sound surprisingly profound.
The spiced-up soft-rock of “The Way It Was” and “Here With Me” would be unbearable in the hands of lesser frontmen, but Flowers brings these narratives to life, with a yearning howl that convincingly puts across his characters’ nostalgic longings.
Let the music snobs sneer, because the Killers aren’t interested in creating ripples of cultish appreciation. They want to make huge waves, and “Battle Born” should do exactly that.
The “Cruel Summer” compilation album from artists on Kanye West’s record label feels cobbled together, with hits from Big Sean (left) and dull slow jams from Kid Cudi (right).
Downloads of the Week
“Song Groove” (a k a “Abortion Papers”)
JACKO’S private demos have been raided for the 25th anniversary of his 1987 album, “Bad” — the most notable being this provocative tale of a girl wrestling with the prospect of an abortion. Paradoxically, it’s set to a particularly funky groove and an almost inappropriately catchy chorus. Had it been fully realized, it could have been one of Jackson’s finest — and most controversial — tracks.
The “True Love” on Pink’s new album is a stormy breed of love and hate, with an assist from Brit singer Lily Allen.
JON SPENCER BLUES EXPLOSION
THIS downtown institution has returned after an eight-year silence, and this kick-ass, three-chord rock ’n’ roll number goes a long way toward explaining why their new record is called “Meat and Bone.” Welcome back fellas, we’ve missed you.
IT’D be a stretch to describe Grizzly Bear’s new record, “Shields,” as a collection of out-and-out pop songs, but the lush, harmonic quality of this track certainly typifies a new directness for the Brooklyn band. It sounds as big as Coldplay but burns out with a chilling noise section worthy of Radiohead, and will undoubtedly be a highlight of their show at Radio City on Monday.
BAND OF HORSES
“Heartbreak on the 101”
THE earthier, roots-rock direction that Band of Horses has taken in recent years has yielded some humdrum results. But this countrified cut (which closes the new album “Mirage Rock”) is a sublime reminder of the starry-eyed melodies that used to make hipsters swoon.
CARLY RAE JEPSEN
“Beautiful” (feat. Justin Bieber)
AMID the mind-destroying onslaught of sugary synth-pop that makes up Jepsen’s new album, “Kiss” is this slightly more considered acoustic ballad sung with the Biebs. It’s hardly tinged with greatness, but at least it provides a welcome respite from the Canadian’s irritatingly homogeneous sound.
“True Love” (feat. Lily Allen)
IF you’ve ever wanted to be a fly on the wall for Pink’s stormy marriage to Carey Hart, here’s your chance. This slice of pop-soul from her new album “The Truth About Love” hints heavily at domestic disorder: “You’re an a – – hole, but I love you” sings Pink repeatedly. Divorce lawyers of the world, take note.
“How Deep Is Your Love” (feat. Kelly Rowland)
WITH such cringe-worthy couplets as “You are the magnet/I am the steel,” it’s not hard to see why Sean Paul doesn’t show his sensitive side too often. Weak lyrics aren’t the only thing wrong on this cut from new album “Tomahawk Technique.” It’s a generic-sounding production all around — and Kelly Rowland sounds like she recorded her part while half-asleep.
LIKE an embarrassing and tipsy aunt at a family party, Nelly Furtado sounds desperate to prove her hipness on the current single from her largely awful comeback album “Spirit Indestructible” — which finds her doing a second-rate M.I.A. impression over third-rate grime beats. Quick, let’s ditch her while she’s trying to do the bump!
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