Andrew Paschal: Big Sean’s latest is an anxious stream-of-consciousness narrative, his verse flowing over discordant and menacing piano with a horror movie vibe. He certainly achieves the mood he sets out for and pulls the listener into his own discomfort. Lines like, “I realized when it comes to girls / That chemistry means way more than anatomy” do not exactly make for the most profound revelations, however, making the track feel somewhat juvenile despite itself. Still, Big Sean’s emphasis on mood and atmosphere here make for an interesting and unusual listen. [7/10]
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Steve Horowitz: “Going to the car wash….” whatever happened to Rose Royce? No matter, this video brilliantly exposes the show on the windshield thanks to the space age music of Teengirl Fantasy. It beats going to a Pink Floyd laser show or whatever else is happening at one’s local Planetarium. The cosmic sounds take one on a journey to the outer space that lies within. The mixture of the mundane and the magic reveals there is no difference between the two as we are only stardust. [8/10]
It’s been almost three years since the Flint Water Crisis began making headlines. Still, the residents of Flint, Michigan, are still affected by a human-made disaster that’s left them without safe drinking water and led to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Among those who took notice of Flint citizens’ plight were Jen de la Osa and Henry Beguiristain of Boston-based indie rockers Aloud and Kendra Jones and Tom Stuart of Brooklyn ensemble Cold Blood Club. Frustrated by what they saw as a tragic and criminal event that wasn’t getting as much attention as it deserved, the two groups pooled their resources and crafted a new song entitled “Agua Mala”.
Andrew Paschal: Following the exuberance and bombast of “WTF” and “Pep Rally”, “I’m Better” takes a dark and skeletal turn, making for the most classic Missy offering yet of her comeback. Supported by a menacing, minimal three-note motif, the track expertly applies and then withdraws the bass and electronics to create a sense of dynamism. Lamb’s laid-back delivery and carefree lyrics feel oddly ambiguous or even deceptive in the context of the song as a whole; he comes across like a mysterious character yet to reveal all of his cards. What’s more, the music video just further confirms how adept Missy Elliott is at synthesizing fashion, song, and dance to make potent artistic statements. [9/10]
Gallant broke out big in 2016 with his stunning debut Ology. Even Elton John is a huge fan and the pair performed “Weight in Gold” back in September. Gallant recently played NPR Music’s Tiny Desk series and, on “Bourbon”, Chance the Rapper collaborator Saba thrills with his fast, on-point rapping flow. Gallant pens songs that sound like instant classics and he’ll be a force to reckon with in soul music for many years to come.