Ari Rosenschein: As if signing the brilliant Grimes wasn’t enough of a gift to music for one decade, 4AD continues to churn out releases by brilliant female Canadians. This time, the goods come from a Chicago-born Torontonian, who goes by U.S. Girls. The woozy chords at the heart of “Navy & Cream” sound like Wham’s “Everything She Wants” at half speed. The singer’s vocal squeak borders Cyndi Lauper territory—a locale well worth exploring. By the time the Princely guitar fireworks kick in you will believe. [8/10]
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Sam Taylor: Let’s be clear, Beyoncé‘s greatest asset has always been her voice. On “Formation”, she might not be belting out another insta-classic like “Crazy in Love”, but she continues down an increasingly dark and enthralling path, stripping back her sound and redefining what makes ‘Beyoncé’ so distinctively… well, Beyoncé. Utilising the unique potential of the surprise release—and the Super Bowl—to whip the Internet into a frenzy, she’s using her stature in the industry (and the black community) to expose an army of fans to something truly new. On both “Formation” and in its accompanying video, Beyoncé retains the confident swagger of her eponymous 2014 album, harnessing this progression to produce a track that not only serves as a potent statement that #blacklivesmatter in 2016, but that good music does too… and it still has the potential to really get people talking. [8/10]
Atlanta producer Chris Hunt previously applied his compositional skills to the work of Cloudeater, but following the break-up of that outfit, Hunt has struck out on his own in developing the Tomb project. Juxtaposing wide cinematic flourishes with elements of jaggy noise that almost create a heavy metal effect, his new music is throughly visceral in some of the same ways as Rabit’s recent music on Communion.
Jedd: Beaudoin: Helloooo. Where did this come from? Love it. It’s got that (forgive me) Kate Bush/Peter Gabriel thing happening for it while also having its own character. Coming back to this one again and again. [9/10]
Stephen Wyatt: PUP’s anonymity will be short lived. They write anthems and odes the perils of puberty and the abyss of adulthood, and “DVP” is no different. Holding onto hardcore music’s finer elements—frenetic guitar work, drums peaking at the end of an amphetamine rush, and the admixture of screaming diatribes (“I need to grow up!”) and surfer melodies—PUP primes themselves for a future that would benefit for a revival in hardcore music. [8/10]