We live in a time where all genres of music from all over the world are, quite literally, at our fingertips. This month, I sorted through February’s best albums, top singles, and the complete flops, so that you don’t have to. The reviews below span from rock to reggaeton, so there is guaranteed to be something for everyone. Happy listening!
Everyone’s favorite psychedelic rock project, Tame Impala, did not disappoint with their latest release, The Slow Rush. This is Tame Impala’s fourth album, with a five year gap between the release of “The Slow Rush” and its predecessor, “Currents”. The record is eccentric and a relatively easy listen— no surprise there. Only three songs out of twelve are under four minutes, and the lengthiness of the tracks heavily contribute to the feeling of other worldliness that Tame Impala is known for.
The standout tracks mostly occur in the last third of the album and include “Lost in Yesterday” and “Is It True”. A common and valid critique of “The Slow Rush” is that many of the songs sound similar and can blur together. However, I feel like that’s the point. The idea is to provide the listener with a trippy, calming experience— accomplishing that doesn’t exactly constitute a highly diverse album. All in all, “The Slow Rush” was well worth the wait.
Upon discovering this album, I struggled to find a track that didn’t deliver electropop excellence. “Look at Us Now Dad” is made up of both quippy and heavy beats that pair perfectly with Banoffee’s high pitched vocals. Standout songs include “Tennis Fan,” “Contagious,” and “This Is for Me.” In an industry dominated by formulaic electronic pop, Banoffee found a way to rewrite the narrative and create something truly unique.
The first song I listened to off “Expectations” was the track of the same name. My immediate thought was that it sounded extremely similar to Fleetwood Mac, but while Katie’s album is highly reminiscent of past classics, she clearly has her own distinctive perspective and style. When Katie sings, she demands you listen, but she doesn’t yell or scream her lyrics. In fact, she does the opposite. Katie’s soft voice and sonic style is refreshingly simple. The album was created with only instruments and Katie’s vocals. In other words, there’s no no real electronic influence, which is refreshing. “Expectations” is palatable to all music tastes, however, that does not make it boring or insignificant. Katie’s album appeals to different audiences because of its exploration of intrinsically human topics such as religion, sexuality, love, and mental health. “Expectations” is beautiful, stripped back, and vulnerable.
In a plot twist, Green Day did not use their newest project to discuss politics and social rebellion. Instead, they made what is arguably their most chill album yet. Don’t get me wrong, “Father of All…” is definitely a true rock album. Green Day has been making music for 34 years, and they definitely have their unique sound down to a science. You can hear a song and know immediately that it’s Green Day. However, the band always manages to get creative and produce something completely new every time they release music, for better or for worse. Luckily this time, “Father of All…” is definitely for the better.
In preparation for their upcoming fourth studio album, “CALM” (TBR March 27, 2020), 5 Seconds of Summer released singles “No Shame” and “Old Me”. Both songs are more on the pop side of pop-rock and are complete bangers. “No Shame” stayed consistent with the Australian band’s newer and grungier aesthetic while “Old Me” only strayed from the new sound in terms of promotion.
Leading up to and after “Old Me” was released, 5 Seconds of Summer posted many, many old pictures of the band members as kids and teenagers. It was a nice touch that read as a thank you to the band’s fans, especially those who have followed them from the beginning.
In true Kehlani fashion, her whimsical yet strong vocals muse over a sexy hip-hop beat in “Konclusions.” The song, which was fittingly released on Valentine’s Day, also includes verses from rapper YG. Overall, the song is good, but not a standout for either artist.
Even though the song is sung in Spanish, you don’t need to speak the language to immediately understand that “Tattoo” is a love song. The single has a cheery reggaeton beat and Rauw’s smooth vocals blend seamlessly into the music. The result is an adorable, captivating song that I will be playing on repeat for a hot minute.
The Strokes are back at it again with “At The Door.” The 80’s-esque track is dramatic, but understated in the way only a band like The Strokes can accomplish. The song begins with a harsh, yet harmonic noise that mimics the unmistakable sound of a Tesla Coil. At the two minute mark, the song shifts dramatically to a juxtaposed soothing sound. Just before the three minute mark, there is another shift to a sound that is reminiscent of The Killers. Overall, this is a longer than usual, emotional, and dynamic single.
A reggaeton beat paired with smooth vocals always makes for a good song. “TBT” isn’t the most unique or groundbreaking song, but it’s a quality single nonetheless. I would categorize “TBT” as a chill listen, but the fact that it’s a reggaeton song keeps the vibe of the song fun and light.
The Weeknd delivers yet again. “After Hours” tone is unsettling, but not overwhelmingly so. The song’s bass is strong and steady. The vast majority of the Weeknd’s music falls somewhere between eerie and mainstream R&B, and “After Hours” is no exception.
I will apologize in advance to Directioners and Niall Horan stans, but Niall has yet to produce a track that is more than an annoying radio hit. Don’t get me wrong, radio hits can be high quality songs. However, Niall’s music tends to sound simplistic and lack substance of any kind.
I have a million questions for Pearl Jam after listening to this song. No part of the experience was pleasant, and the song can be best described as sonically dissonant. Pearl Jam has released a whopping 10 studio albums and 15 live albums since their career began in 1990. It feels as though they’re, for lack of a better phrase, beating a dead horse. Unless Pearl Jam is willing to start releasing quality music again, they might as well retire and save our ears from experiencing another “Superblood Wolfmoon”.
Selena just dropped her latest and highly successful album, “Rare,” in January, so the release of “Feel Me,” confused me. But when I found out that the song was only released because fans begged, I had high expectations. Unfortunately, they were not met. “Feel Me” is just an alarmingly lackluster pop song.
This song isn’t actually a bonafide flop. However, I have sky high expectations for Khalid, so a mediocre EDM pop song will not cut it. He can do better, and until then, this song will be banished to the flop list.
This song sounds like its creators threw a bunch of random EDM sounds together to create an absolute mess that should have never been released. “Regenerate Love” is jarring with its lack of quality transitions and sounds exactly like the stereotypical idea of electronic music being nothing more than futuristic robot noises. I’m assuming that was on purpose, but it ended up sounding like a Macbook going through the shredder.
Check out Spire’s Best of February Playlist.