Paul Carr: Even after nine albums, Spoon manage the remarkable feat of releasing a song that sounds nothing like anything in their remarkable canon. Whilst every album has seen them experiment with their sound in some way, “Can I Sit Next to You” sees the band move in a funky dance pop direction. It sounds supremely confident with the strut and the swagger of a band who have full faith in what they are doing. A welcome return that shows that Spoon are still capable of pulling off a few surprises. [7/10]
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Experimental Brazilian composer Sentidor wasn’t always a fan of countryman Tom Jobim, the legend behind such bossa nova classics as “The Girl from Ipanema” and “Waters of March”. It was only after listening to 1987 album Passarim that he found a point of convergence between Jobim’s ideologies and his own. Focusing on both the personal and the environmental, Passarim has a dark edge to it—one that resonates with Sentidor’s political viewpoints and talent for musical deconstruction. On Am_Par_Sis, Sentidor takes Passarim apart and stitches it back together in wild and wondrous ways, laying out a vast, futuristic vision of Brazil built out of samples of Jobim’s work.
Andrew Paschal: The Durham, NC duo has a way of crafting sparse electropop gems with an easy, natural openness to them. “Die Young” is no exception, and places among their strongest efforts to date. Amelia Meath delivers memorable, almost folksy hooks without veering too far into the saccharine or hokey, as Sylvan Esso has at times done in the past. Not that the song doesn’t also have its own glaring darkness: I can’t decide whether I think it’s about actual suicide deferred by sudden love, or if Meath merely sings about faking her death to make a getaway and then having to scrap that plan too. I hope the latter; the airy “Die Young” would not quite do justice to a topic as weighty as suicide, and would come across in that case as a little emotionally manipulative. If nothing else, though, you can always choose simply to bask in the warm, synthy sunshine and ignore the irony. [7/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: The tale Murs tells is a poignant one, painting a picture of living life in constant danger. Each part of the story is true for someone; Murs makes that clear. There are moments of hope, of seeking refuge in music that comes from artists who understand growing up among violence and poverty, but in the end, the message is clear: for countless people, particularly black Americans, the social system has failed, leading to far too many young lives lost. From a lyrical standpoint, “GBKW” hits hard, and from a production standpoint, Murs has put together an impeccable piece of music. These are uncomfortable images, and Murs confronts his listeners with each one, letting us know that avoiding the problem sure as hell isn’t going to fix it. [9/10]
Jack Savoretti’s last work, 2015’s Written in Scars, revealed an artist working at his full potential. An accomplishment of melodic infrastructure, Savoretti bolstered his tunes with solid grooves that never felt forced or contrived. It was one of the few efforts that year to merge a folk-pop sensibility with a few urban rhythms in ways that were seamless and fresh.