Mike Schiller: This is ponderous, man. Our first taste of Kevin Martin and Earth’s collaborative album-length follow-up to the Boa/Cold EP from a few years ago carries little of the pure menace of their previous work, but all of the tremendous, sludgy, doomy, dubby instrumental power one could hope for. It sets a mood and then sticks with it for five minutes, never bothering to change, because why should it have to? Picture an abandoned island town slowly being leveled by lava, and you’re most of the way to imagining what this sounds like. [8/10]
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Mike Schiller: Somehow, some way, Blondie is topical, political, energetic, and danceable. To be one of these is not a surprise; to be all of them is a bit of a shock, particularly when you realize that Chris Stein is 67 years old and Debbie Harry is 71(!). It’s a video that stars an initially-sullen androgynous space traveler who finds a glamorous space drag queen who presumably guides our protagonist to that great discotheque in the sky. It’s a story of not just acceptance, but a celebration of self and others. It’s a story where gender and sexuality is a fluid concept. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a story with a happy ending, something that’s awfully hard to find or even imagine given a political climate that seems hellbent on punishing and taking away the rights of the most vulnerable. The song underneath it all is a lightweight disco tune, nothing new but very much classic Blondie, and as a vehicle for the video, it’s perfect. [8/10]
Chris Ingalls: Denmark’s Mew are a band that’s known to fuse their indie pop music with a slight accent of prog, this fits the bill nicely. From the soaring choruses and sophisticated musical arrangements to the nagging earworm catchiness, it’s as if Muse or Coldplay made an album after spending the weekend listening to Genesis’ Duke. Which, to me, is not a bad thing. [7/10]
“Our motivation is to be different than [what] we were,” notes Nuno Gonçalves, and boy he isn’t kidding.
Answering a question asked back in 2011 when PopMatters visited the Gift in Spain, the keyboardist and lead songwriter of Portugal’s the Gift has made it clear that no two albums will sound the same. Amazingly, over the course of two decades, the band has kept this promise.
Paul Carr: Breaking up is hard to do, but for NAO it is the only way to spare a lover from the pain of a failing relationship. Over spacious, off-center beats, NAO creates a lush, lunar atmosphere for her powerful, intimate lyrics. She sounds torn, filled with self-doubt but her hesitancy slowly gives way to the cold hard realization of the inevitable. In this way, it feels like peeking into her diary as she wrestles with her decision. “In the Morning” is a thoughtful exploration of the fragility of relationships. [8/10]